Volume 2, Number 2

February 25, 2005

Greetings from the ISSO scholar team!

The Communiqué is an on-going series of messages to departments who sponsor international scholars at Boston University. With the Communiqué, we will offer information that will help make more effective — and streamline — 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.

New H-1B Law: $500 Anti-Fraud Fee and Prevailing Wage Changes

On December 8, 2004, President Bush signed the Fiscal Year 2005 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 4818) into law. This law incorporates the “H-1B Visa Reform Act of 2004,” which contain two significant provisions affecting the H-1B specialty worker category.

1. A new $500 “fraud protection and detection fee” will have to be paid by all employers (including institutions of higher education) who file an H-1B petition: a) initially to grant an alien H-1B status, and b) to allow an H-1B nonimmigrant to change employers. This provision becomes effective for petitions filed on and after March 8, 2005. The University administration has decided to provide the ISSO with a supplementary budget from which this fee will be paid so that individual department budgets are not burdened with this cost. This speaks to the value the administration places on the hiring of international employees.

2. Five per cent rule eliminated. The H-1B and permanent labor certification “prevailing wage 5 percent rule,” which considered employers paying no less than 95 percent of the prevailing wage as meeting the prevailing wage requirements, will be eliminated; employers will now have to pay at least 100% of the prevailing wage to comply with that wage requirement. This also becomes effective March 8, 2005.

In addition, the Department of Labor will increase from two to four the number of levels used to determine the prevailing wage. Each level is commensurate with experience, education, and level of supervision. Currently, only two wage levels exist, which makes it very difficult for employers of mid-level employees to meet the prevailing wage requirement. The additional wage levels will, hopefully, make the requirement to pay 100% of the prevailing wage more attainable.

A Greater Emphasis on Using the J-1 Exchange Visitor Status/Visa Whenever Possible

Considering the new $500 fee for H-1B petitions (see above), it is even more important than ever for the University to employ international scholars under the sponsorship of our J-1 Exchange Visitor Program, rather than in H-1B status, when this is feasible. Though each new employee’s situation will be considered carefully and immigration decisions made accordingly, the ISSO will make use of our J-1 Exchange Visitor Program as a first choice whenever possible.

Feel Free to Contact Us

As always, if there are any questions or concerns, please feel free to call us at (617) 353-3565. You can also e-mail us at the addresses below.

Your ISSO Scholar Services Team

James Leck
Assistant Director for Scholar Services

Naomi Moca
International Scholar Advisor