By Rahul Reddy and Sophia Asare, Attorneys at Law


1. I obtained a Master’s degree from a for-profit institution in the U.S. I applied for an H-1B petition under the FY 2013 Master CAP and USCIS approved the H-1B petition. Can USCIS now tell me that my H-1B is not valid?

Yes. In order to properly file an H-1B petition under the Master CAP exemption, an alien beneficiary must possess a master’s or higher degree from a United States institution of higher education as defined in section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965. According to section 101(a), an institution of higher education is an educational institution that is, among other things, a public or other nonprofit institution and is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association or has been granted preaccreditation status by such an agency or association recognized for granting preaccreditation status.

The school that you obtained a Master’s degree from is for-profit and does not meet the definition of an institution of higher education as defined in section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

USCIS can now find that your school does not meet the Master CAP exemption and that you are subject to the H-1B numerical limitation.

2. I obtained a Master’s degree from for profit, unaccredited institution in the U.S. I applied for an H-1B petition under the FY 2012 Master CAP and USCIS approved the H-1B petition. I have since traveled to India for visa stamping. Am I safe now?

No. The school that you obtained a Master’s degree from is unaccredited and does not meet the definition of an institution of higher education as defined in section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965. Successfully obtaining a visa stamp does not change this fact. USCIS can now find that your school does not meet the Master CAP exemption and that you are subject to the H-1B numerical limitation.

3. In 2010, I obtained a Master’s degree from for profit, unaccredited institution in the U.S. I applied for an H-1B petition under the FY 2012 Master CAP and USCIS approved the H-1B petition. My current H-1B visa expires in September 2014. What should I do now?

The school that you obtained a Master’s degree from is unaccredited and does not meet the definition of an institution of higher education as defined in section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965. With the new filing window opening on April 1, 2014, you may want to consider filing a new H-1B petition under the Bachelors Cap in order to avoid future problems with your H-1B visa.

4. I obtained a Master’s degree from a private, for-profit institution in the U.S. I applied for an H-1B petition under the FY 2011 Master CAP and USCIS approved my H-1B petition. I filed a petition to extend my H-1B status in the fall of 2013 and it was approved. Am I safe now?

No. In recent months, the California Service Center has denied extension petitions of H-1B Beneficiaries whose initial H-1B petitions were filed under the Master CAP exemption based on Master’s or higher degrees from universities that do not meet the definition of an institution of higher education as defined in section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965. The school that you obtained a Master’s degree from is for-profit and does not meet the definition of an institution of higher education as defined in section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965. USCIS is not required to approve petitions where eligibility has not been demonstrated, merely because of prior approvals which may have been erroneous.

5. I obtained a Master’s degree from for profit, unaccredited institution in the U.S. I applied for an H-1B petition under the FY 2009 Master CAP and USCIS approved the H-1B petition. My I-140 was approved in 2011 and I now I am just waiting for my priority date to become current in order to file my I-485. Am I safe?

If you are currently in H-1B status, the answer is no. The school that you obtained a Master’s degree from is unaccredited and does not meet the definition of an institution of higher education as defined in section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965. Successfully filing an I-140 does not change this fact. USCIS can now find that your school does not meet the Master CAP exemption and that you are subject to the H-1B numerical limitation.

6. In 2009, I obtained a Master’s degree from an accredited, nonprofit institution in the U.S. In 2012, I obtained a Master’s degree from a private, unaccredited university. I applied for an H-1B petition under the FY 2014 Master CAP and USCIS approved the H-1B petition. Will this cause any problems in the future for me?

You obtained one of your Master’s degrees from a school that meets the definition of an institution of higher education as defined in section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965. As this school meets the Master CAP exemption, you are not subject to the H-1B numerical limitation based on your previously granted H-1B nonimmigrant status in the past 6 years.

7. I recently graduated with a Master’s degree from a private, for-profit institution in the U.S. and I am currently participating in Occupational Practical Training (OPT). My OPT employer would like to file an H-1B petition for me on April 1, 2014. Can I file my H-1B petition under the FY 2015 Master CAP exemption?

The school that you obtained a Master’s degree from is for-profit and does not meet the definition of an institution of higher education as defined in section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965. Consult with an attorney to consider filing under the under normal quota.

 

Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is an immigration law firm in Houston, Texas. For over 15 years, our firm has successfully represented corporate clients across the United States in their efforts to bring foreign workers and business professionals to the United States. Our experienced team of immigration lawyers in Houston & Dallas advises clients throughout the H-1B visa application process, including responding to various requests for evidence and consular processing issues. From filing, through approval, and on to appeal, we do everything possible to ensure that your company can bring the best and brightest in the world to the United States.

We recently informed readers of our weekly newsletter about a telephone scam targeting Indian immigrants to try to get money. This morning the scam reached our own office when Attorney Rahul Reddy received a phone call from an individual claiming to be from the Bureau of Criminal Investigations. Initially, the caller tried to reach Mr. Reddy at his home phone number. Mr. Reddy’s cell phone number was provided to the caller and minutes later, a threatening voicemail message was left on his cell phone about legal action that was being taken against his identity. Anticipating that the call was related to the same scam discussed earlier, Mr. Reddy called back to find out how the scam works.

A “Senior Criminal Investigator” named Don Lawson took the call. He asked if there had been any contact with the local police department or the Bureau of Criminal Investigations. He proceeded to tell Mr. Reddy that there was an affidavit filed against him by the government because he “violated the tax code of 1967” and mentioned two other charges related to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and a criminal investigation.

The scammer said that if he did not take care of it right now, the local police would immediately come to his home to arrest him. Mr. Reddy asked how it can be taken care of and the scammer said that, according to the affidavit, the IRS is ready to file a criminal case against Mr. Reddy unless he agrees to a settlement amount of $3,464. If he did not agree, then he could fight the case in court but it would cost $72,000. He could avoid all the hassle by paying $3,464 right now. And if it later turns out that the charges were a mistake, they would refund 80% of the money.

The scammer gave instructions for making the payment of $3,464. Apparently they do not accept checks and their “EFT system” was down so they could not take credit card payments over the phone. Mr. Reddy was asked to obtain “Green Dot Money Cards”, conveniently available at any Wal-Mart store. He was instructed to buy 3 prepaid cards in the amount of $1,000 each and one card in the amount of $464. The caller would not allow Mr. Reddy to call back after he obtained the cards. He instructed that he would wait on hold while Mr. Reddy went to the store to purchase the cards. Then he would take the card information over the phone. If Mr. Reddy were to hang up during this process, the police would immediately be notified to arrest him. As soon as the payment is made, the scammer told him all charges will be dropped.

At this point, Mr. Reddy informed the scammer that he would complain to the authorities and the call was immediately disconnected by the scammer. While it may seem easy for many to conclude that this kind of call is just a scam and hang up, clearly there are people out there who followed the caller’s instructions and were cheated out of a large amount of money. Otherwise, these scammers would be out of business. Don’t be a victim!

 

Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is an immigration law firm in Houston, Texas. For over 15 years, our firm has successfully represented corporate clients across the United States in their efforts to bring foreign workers and business professionals to the United States. Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is highly experienced in working with employment-based visas, adjustment of status, green cards, and PERM labor certification. From filing, through approval, and on to appeal, we do everything possible to ensure that your company can bring the best and brightest in the world to the United States.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has approved the statutory maximum 10,000 petitions for U-1 nonimmigrant status (U visas) for fiscal year 2014. This marks the fifth straight year that USCIS has reached the statutory maximum since it began issuing U visas in 2008.

Each year, 10,000 U visas are available for victims of certain qualifying crimes who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse and are willing to help law enforcement authorities investigate or prosecute those crimes. A U visa petition requires certification of assistance from law enforcement.

Congress created the U visa program to strengthen the law enforcement community’s ability to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and other crimes, while also offering protection to victims. More than 89,600 victims and their family members have received U visas since the program was implemented in 2008.

Though USCIS has reached its statutory cap of 10,000 U visas, it will continue to review pending petitions for eligibility. USCIS will send a letter to all eligible petitioners who, due solely to the cap, are not granted U-1 visas, notifying them that they are on a waiting list to receive a U visa when visas again become available and what options they have in the interim. Petitioners and qualifying family members must continue to meet eligibility requirements at the time the U visa is issued.

USCIS will resume issuing U visas on Oct. 1, 2014, the first day of fiscal year 2015, when visas become available again.

 

Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is an immigration law firm in Houston, Texas. For over 15 years, our firm has successfully represented corporate clients across the United States in their efforts to bring foreign workers and business professionals to the United States. Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is highly experienced in working with employment-based visas, adjustment of status, green cards, and PERM labor certification. From filing, through approval, and on to appeal, we do everything possible to ensure that your company can bring the best and brightest in the world to the United States.

By Rahul Reddy & Emily Neumann, Attorneys at Law, Reddy & Neumann PC


If your U.S. master’s degree is from a private, for-profit university or an unaccredited school and you obtained your H-1B approval under the Masters Cap exemption, you may run into problems obtaining an H-1B extension. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is taking a second look at H-1Bs approved under the Masters Cap exemption after some petitions appear to have been approved in error. For those cases where the initial H-1B petition was approved under the Masters Cap and the degree used to qualify for the exemption was from a private, for-profit school or an unaccredited university, the USCIS could deny the H-1B extension on the grounds that the worker was never actually counted towards the H-1B numerical limitations and is now subject to the H-1B quota. USCIS could also potentially revoke the approved H-1B petition.

On October 1st of every year, the U.S. government makes available 65,000 H-1B visas for the upcoming fiscal year. In addition, there is an advanced degree exemption provided to the first 20,000 petitions filed for an individual who has obtained a U.S. master’s degree or higher. However, not all U.S. master’s degrees are created equal when it comes to qualifying for this exemption. The school issuing the master’s degree must meet the definition of an institution of higher education as defined in section 101(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

According to section 101(a), an institution of higher education is an educational institution that is, among other things, a public or other nonprofit institution and is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association or has been granted pre accreditation status by such an agency or association recognized for granting pre accreditation status. Under this definition, a university that is private and for-profit or that is unaccredited is not considered an institution of higher education.

If your school is a private, for-profit institution or it is unaccredited and you obtained an H-1B approval under the Masters Cap, you should contact a qualified immigration attorney as soon as possible. With the new filing window opening on April 1, 2014, you may need to consider filing a new H-1B petition under the Bachelors Cap in order to avoid future problems with your H-1B visa. In addition, if you are a current F-1 student or recent graduate and are planning to file an H-1B petition in the upcoming filing window, consult with an attorney before filing under the Master CAP exemption if you attended a private, for-profit university or your school is unaccredited.

The U.S. Department of Education has published a list of regional and national accrediting agencies that are recognized by the Secretary as reliable authorities concerning the quality of education or training offered by the institutions of higher education or higher education programs they accredit. Here is a link:

http://www2.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/accreditation_pg6.html

Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is an immigration law firm in Houston, Texas. For over 15 years, our firm has successfully represented corporate clients across the United States in their efforts to bring foreign workers and business professionals to the United States. Reddy & Neumann, P.C. is highly experienced in working with employment-based visas, adjustment of status, green cards, and PERM labor certification. From filing, through approval, and on to appeal, we do everything possible to ensure that your company can bring the best and brightest in the world to the United States.