Loss of Accreditation Determination by the U.S. Department of Education
Based on the recent determination by the U.S. Department of Education that it no longer recognizes the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (“ACICS”) as an accrediting agency, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is having to revisit the effect of same on the 24-month science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (“STEM”) optional practical training (“OPT”) extension programs and individuals with degrees conferred on or after August 19, 2022 who may be applying for certain immigration benefits.
F-1 STEM OPT extension program students must have a STEM degree from a Department of Education-accredited U.S. educational institution at the time of filing their application to qualify for STEM OPT extension. Students who receive a denial of their application will have sixty (60) days to depart the U.S., transfer to a different school, or begin a new course of study at an accredited Student and Exchange Visitor Program (“SEVP”) certified school.
Further, degrees conferred on or after August 19, 2022 by colleges and universities which are no longer properly accredited will not qualify for the H-1B advanced degree exemption (i.e., the H-1B master’s cap exemption) and individuals who hold degrees from non-accredited institutions conferred on or after August 19, 2022 will be affected where I-140 petitions are filed under the advanced degree and professional classifications where the credentials must be a U.S. degree or foreign equivalent. Contact your immigration counsel immediately to discuss the potential impact of these new developments on your or your employees’ immigration proceedings.
COVID-19 Flexibility Continues Through January 2023
USCIS has further extended the coronavirus (“COVID-19”) flexibilities through January 24, 2023 for certain receipts and notices issued between March 1, 2020 and January 24, 2023, inclusive. The extension for government responses apply to Requests for Evidence (“RFEs”), Notices of Intent to Deny, Revoke, Rescind, and Terminate proceedings, and Motions to Reopen an N-400 and USCIS will consider responses received within sixty (60) days of the indicated due date to be timely filed. USCIS has also extended consideration of certain appeals, motions, and requests for a hearing if the required forms are filed within 90 calendar days from the date of decision and if the decision date was made by USCIS between November 1, 2021 and January 24, 2023.
DID YOU KNOW?
Munsch Hardt’s Immigration Team successfully argued a successor-in-interest case to assume the predecessor company’s prior immigration benefits for its employee and obtain approval of an I-140 Immigrant Petition. If your company is in the acquisition or merger mode, be sure to review any pending immigration matters for the entity joining your corporate family as soon as possible to determine the necessary steps to ensure employees’ valid immigration status post-transition.