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ISSO Scholar Services Communiqué

Volume 2, Number 5

October 26, 2005

The Communiqué is an on-going series of messages to departments who sponsor international scholars at Boston University. With the Communiqué, we offer information that helps in the processing of scholar immigration-related documents and petitions. We hope you find the Communiqué a useful tool in working with the ISSO and in successfully hiring and sponsoring scholars from around the world. Past Communiqués are archived on our web site. Click here to go to the archive page.

Updated Intake Forms
We have recently made a few small but significant changes to our H-1 Supplement Form and to Form B (the form completed by international scholars as part of each new and extension request regardless of immigration status).

The changes to the H-1 Supplement Form should make clearer the section on training and experience required for the position. We have also re-worded the section that asks how many people the H-1B employee will supervise to make it clear that we are trying to determine the number of full-time, non-student employees that this person will hire, train, supervise and dismiss directly. This should not include student workers, teaching assistants, or research assistants for which the person has a small role in training and/or supervising.

The update to Form B is the addition of item number nine, Travel Plans, found on page two. This new section allows the scholar to inform us of any plans to travel outside of the U.S. while the petition is in process which might have an affect on the petition.

Please discard any versions of these forms you may have saved -- electronically or otherwise -- and begin using the new forms immediately. All scholar forms can be downloaded from our web site at

http://www.bu.edu/isso/administrators/checklist/index.html.

Please make every effort to complete all ISSO intake forms electronically by opening them in Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader and typing the requested information in the fill-in fields, check-boxes, and drop-down lists. Handwritten forms are more difficult to process and, more importantly, errors are more likely to occur in the spelling of names, entry of dates, etc. Errors such as these on government documents can cause delays during the visa application process, at ports of entry, and in any number of other steps in the process of obtaining lawful immigration status.

It is strongly recommended that you use the latest version of Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader (version 7.0.5 is the latest as of this writing) to complete the forms. You can download updates to Reader at www.adobe.com. Acrobat must be purchased. Academic licenses for the product are inexpensive and can be obtained from the BU Computer Store (http://www.bu.edu/univcomp/).

Timing is Everything
USCIS processing times for any given petition type (H-1B, TN, J-1, O-1, etc.) can vary greatly throughout the year. For example, this past Spring the USCIS Vermont Service Center was processing H-1B change of status petitions as quickly as six weeks. At the moment, USCIS is taking a minimum of 6 months to process H-1 change of status petitions. Because of the many factors involved in these processing time variations, we cannot predict or anticipate changes. Therefore, it is absolutely vital that Boston University departments submit requests to the ISSO in accordance with our processing time chart.* Currently, any request involving a change of status to H-1B that is submitted less than six months prior to the employee's appointment start date will require Premium Processing. As you know, the USCIS charges $1000 for Premium Processing and this fee must be paid by the BU department.

* http://www.bu.edu/isso/administrators/index.html

Requests that are Complete Speed Processing
Delays in the handling of your cases can be greatly reduced if the ISSO receives request packages that are complete. It is often difficult, if not impossible, to assess the efficacy of a request when it is missing even one item such as an appointment letter, copy of the scholar's degree, the scholar's resume, or any other required item. Little can be done to begin processing your request without every item listed on the Department Checklist and the International Scholar Checklist. Please make every effort to send us request packages that are complete.

The H-1 Letter of Support from the supervisor is a critical document. We send this letter to supplement all of the other H-1 application forms that we prepare at the ISSO. The letter of support must indicate the official position title and the MINIMUM educational requirements necessary to perform the job. The letter should then detail how, when and where the candidate met these requirements and a description of the job duties. We encourage you to review and follow closely the sample letter of support found on the ISSO web site at the following link:

http://www.bu.edu/isso/forms/h1_support.pdf.

Fill in all the fields. Just as important as having all the requested documents is to have the forms answered completely; no blanks. Every question and piece of information we ask for in Form A, the supplements and Form B are necessary for processing your request. Most items correspond directly to information required on government applications, petitions or the SEVIS database. Please fill in all the fields.

USCIS Fee Increases
The USCIS recently announced minor increases to their fee structure for various petition and application types. Those most pertinent to Boston University include an increase from $185 to $190 for Form I-129 (used for H-1B, O-1 and TN petitions); an increase from $195 to $200 for Form I-539 (most often used by our scholars to extend the status of a dependent in H-4 classification, or for a scholar to change status); and an increase from $175 to $180 for Form I-765 (most often used by J-2 dependents to apply for employment authorization). As you are aware, the ISSO pays the fee for I-129's, and the scholar pays the for fee for I-539's and I-765's.

Appointment Letters for BUSM Employees
Jo Ann F.R. Walsh, Manager of Compensation and Benefits in the Office of Human Resources, is now the contact person for all School of Medicine appointment letters. She has taken over this role from Cindy Young Hillman who left the University recently. Ms. Walsh can be contacted at joawalsh@bu.edu or (617) 638-4610.

New Statistics are now on the ISSO Web Site
Did you know that there are 1135 international scholars* from 92 countries or that Germany has been one of our top ten most-represented countries in each of the past four years?

We recently updated our international scholar statistics on the ISSO web site. Please take a look. The numbers paint an interesting picture of the international diversity of our research and teaching community.

You can see the statistics at:

http://www.bu.edu/isso/about/statistics/index.html

* International scholars, in this context, refers to anyone who is in a non-immigrant status (i.e., not a U.S. citizen and not a U.S. permanent resident) employed by BU or visiting BU as a researcher, lecturer, etc.

Staffing Changes at the ISSO
After more than 17 years of service to Boston University and the ISSO, Jane Rosenberg has taken a position in North Carolina to be closer to her family. James Leck has been promoted into her post as Associate Director for Student Services. While James has already begun his new duties, he will continue to work with the scholar services team until a new Assistant Director for Scholar Services is hired. He will continue to process TN petitions, sign I-9 forms, and answer general inquiries, among other duties. Jeanne Kelley, Director of the office, will process all H-1B petitions, as well as advise departments and scholars on O-1 and permanent residence processing. As announced in the last Communiqué, our new international scholar advisor, Jill Ostrowski, will focus on providing services related to our J-1 Exchange Visitor Program.

Your ISSO Scholar Services Team

Jeanne E. Kelley
Director
jkelley@bu.edu

James Leck
Associate Director
jleck@bu.edu

Jill M. Ostrowski
International Scholar Advisor
ostrowj@bu.edu

 

ISSO
Boston University
February 28, 2005

Boston University International Students & Scholars Office