hey everyone welcome back to Tech Talk I am Julia Beauchamp I am here with computer world executive editor Ken Mingis as well as CIOs Sharon Florentine we are going to be talking about the h-1b visa program some recent updates to it as well as how it relates to stem opt and as a reminder we are live on YouTube and on the computer world LinkedIn page so if you have any questions any comments we will try to get to them towards the end of our broadcast so feel free to leave them and thank you so much for tuning in with us today and Sharon thank you so much for calling in today so if you could could we discuss maybe some of the more recent changes to the h-1b visa program I know Ken we did a video with Sharon a few sort of a follow up to what we did a little while back yeah and there were some changes with the h-1b visa program at that time which included I believe some there’s a greater emphasis on like advanced degrees which has been one of the big changes I’ve been sort of surprised to see that and also these efforts to streamline the application process yeah I was gonna say and I believe it alum also had to deal with sort of how they pick exactly it had sort of changed how they pick applicants right exactly and you know it’s interesting one of the things that Sharon’s been writing about that I was not aware of this is f1 visa program and how that feeds into the stem opt and I guess we should explain that that’s what what exactly stem opt is because a lot of people may not be familiar with it stem opt is optional practical training and it’s a way for students in particular who may be on f1 visas to sort of extend their ability to stay here in the US and then that court of sort of naturally feeds into the the possibility of them being able to get an h-1b visa and staying even longer you know once that once they’re done with the schooling yeah and it seems like these f1 visa students to me it seems like they do that it seems as though they sort of tend to be masters or graduate level students because like there is sort of what what happened with the sort of updates to the program is that there was a push for applicants and preference for applicants with more advanced degrees right exactly and you know it’s it’s interesting because this has always been an issue or at least in terms of h-1b visas it’s been a real issue in terms of whether or not foreign workers could come to the US and you know be hired by companies whether they were being paid less than US workers would be paid and the idea that now you’ve got students who have this f1 visa and then can now get into this stem opt program and I guess you know stem is obviously science technology electrical engineering and mathematics I think it’s just science technology engineering okay yeah I don’t think it needs to be electrical engineering got it okay but and that’s increasingly important for IT and IT workforce obviously an IT workforce is going to have a lot of people in their workforce with stem degrees and in sort of stem technologies because you want people who are familiar with computer science data analytics not surprising for the tech industry not surprising in the least and something that we are hoping to touch on today as well is that there seems to be a renewed push for site visits for I was just gonna say that’s one of the big and one of the big concerns here is that obviously with ice in the u.s. oh hey hey Sharon I’m bad yeah all right we were just sort of going through the background a little bit of you know sort of what stem opt is f1 visas obviously you know a lot more about it than we do cuz you write about it all the time but we were just sort of giving a little bit of background again if you’re just tuning in we’re talking about h-1b visas the stem opt program some recent changes to the h-1b visa program what’s that I said that that little background was very comprehensive that segues really nicely into some of the stuff I wanted to bring up today you mentioned the ice site visits and so that’s an interesting issue back in August Forbes reported that ice had begun doing site checks for third-party stem opt employment locations and I reached out to a number of my cio sources and so I was unable to confirm that any of the CIOs that I spoke to that that ice was you know ice had not been been doing site checks at

their locations and the Forbes article did not specifically mention which companies or which consulting firms or contractors were subject to those checks so it’s definitely a possibility that those checks could happen ice has had the ability to perform those checks since I believe second quarter of 2016 whether or not they are actually happening I have not been able to get confirmation but it is definitely well within their legal right to do so so it’s something that employers definitely want to keep in mind to have that documentation ready to make sure that students and visa holders are complying with their their training programs and the learning opportunities that that they’re supposed to and while Ken and I were talking you know just a few minutes ago I was saying that it seems as though these obviously are student workers in these STEM ops programs but when I say it’s more so on the graduate and master levels it’s not as many or is it also undergraduate students as well so I’m gonna back up and do a quick I was just gonna ask you if you could let’s start with the f1 and how we get the stem opt and how that might feed that each one B’s yeah sure sure so F is the student visa for international students who are studying in in any field in the US and so the opt the optional practical training is Department of Homeland Security’s program to offer students both while they’re in school and after they finish their degree the ability to stay in the u.s. on that f1 study visa without changing their immigration status and receive training through corporate partners companies that employ these folks they have to be accredited by the student and exchange visitor program there is a list on the DHS site called study in the states it’s a really comprehensive overview of all of these programs and the requirements both for students and for participating companies so a school has to become a CVP certified and then they also have to be enrolled in customs and immigrations iver fi employment eligibility verification program so then students can go and select one of these schools and then that ensures that after they finish their degree that they’re eligible for an opt program after graduation now the stem piece of that is exactly what it sounds like companies targeting students with stem degrees and as Juliet said that’s science technology engineering and math and when students select an employer to do their stem opt training the the employer has to be able to provide a formal documented training program with specific learning objectives that that then can be reviewed and checked by DHS and customs to be able 20 hours a week of work for the student it sounds like there are a lot more requirements for companies that may be looking to to hire you know the students who have f1 visas who have opted in opted in to the stem opt program then companies might be used to if they’re just familiar with the h-1b visa program is that right there are a lot more things that they have to worry about yes yeah especially with the being a student visa obviously there’s not you know you don’t yet have a degree you don’t yet have that documented benchmark so to speak of your knowledge you’re in training you’re studying and

you’re working towards you know getting that degree as well as you know you could choose to leave the country again after you get your degree even if you’ve gone through the training you know or if if if DHS or ice decides that for whatever reason students are not complying with their training program they can be deported do we just pretty chilling yeah that’s I was just gonna say do we have any statistics at all I mean obviously the idea is out there is that ice could crack down on these things if it wanted to and you said you know the CIOs you’ve talked to have not been personally affected by something like that do we have anything that indicates whether there really has been a crack down or is this more sort of a fear that you know that that you know either the students or visa holders or companies that may be hiring them and and using them are worried about but they haven’t seen in practice yet do we have any stats or anything like that on that you know that’s something I’ve been trying to dig up and like I said I have not been able to find anything so far okay from from my understanding it’s more of an existential fear at this point although you know more broadly the current administration has made no bones about its feelings on immigration both legal and otherwise and you know it like I said it can be pretty chilling you know in just at the beginning of this month the the President signed what they’re calling a proclamation that’s going to make it harder even for legal immigrants and those who are relatives of folks that are already in the country those with green cards to to go through that process and legally immigrated the the proclamation states that immigrants who don’t have health insurance currently or who aren’t able to pay for their medical care out-of-pocket are gonna be denied the ability to come here so there’s it’s been pretty vague what those income cut-offs are going to be and even who makes that determination but you know that’s another factor here that the there seems to be an on all fronts push toward restricting immigration in general that I think is is also having an effect here in in the IT and technology industries just a quick reminder if you’re tuning in that we’re talking about the f1 visa students who have f1 visas h-1b visas the stem opt program changes to those programs and sort of how recent crackdowns in the u.s. on immigration in general may be affecting the way those programs work have we seen any or have any companies talked about how they’re concerned that these kinds of crackdowns might affect their ability to hire you know qualified workers maybe next year or the year after is there just sort of even though we don’t know you know specifically whether ice has come in and literally yanked people out and and and sent them home whether companies themselves might be more leery of taking on somebody who’s got a stem opt program or is in the program and then might they might lose them down the road um I’m not hearing that necessarily and and that could be because for now at least until the April 2020 you know the next round of h-1b visas or their workers h-1b ease filled and and working but you know it’s definitely something I plan on on keeping an eye out for over the next couple months to see and there are changes to the h-1b visa program not not talking about the f1 anymore the HP visa program that are going to be implemented in April 2020 you just touch on a few of those I think some of our viewers have a few questions about what exactly those changes will be yes absolutely so there were as you as you mentioned before and

you know what let me just pull up my notes on that real quick so I make sure that I am accurately answering those questions if you don’t mind giving me a minute here yeah one of the oops yeah connection is active again that’s right but we so we can just chat a little bit can about and then in 2020 yep go ahead I’m sorry I’m having a little issue here again with my my technology sometimes its friend sometimes it’s a phone yeah it’s uh it’s being very very argumentative this morning well you know we were talking about the story that you had written a little while ago about the changes to h-1b visas and you know we had spoken earlier about there’s a greater emphasis on advanced degrees that’s one of the big changes the streamlined application process and I mean do we do we have any idea what have they done to sort of streamline this is it streamlined for the the visa holder or for the companies so in that case and and I promise I will come back to the 2020 question it’s I will say that I I think it’s streamlined a forum for both for applicants the the application process has been streamlined in that they no longer have to fill out an entire application until they are selected so it’s a much less labor-intensive initial application process and only if they’re selected do they have to then fill out the rest of the information that’s required this also makes it a little easier I think for companies and that they don’t have to sort through piles and piles of that paperwork you know they can they can look at a smaller set of information and make the decision there so going back to your 2020 question there that’s actually one of the the major changes that will go into effect the the registration system will be electronic entirely electronic and it will have that shorter version of the application so like I said not only does that streamline some of the administrative and paperwork burden it also reduces the costs because it’s it’s automated it’s electronic and you know you’re not for instance paying a legal firm or an immigration attorney to have to go through that paperwork and you know do that kind of expensive build by the our due diligence related to this we’ve got a lot of people asking just about the procedure in general so is there a link or an article we can give them so they can go find out where to get information to apply the procedure to apply yes I would for h-1b or optical it would be okay I would direct folks to USCIS gov that’s probably the most up to date information available and if you go to the Citizenship and Immigration Services homepage and then on the top search bar if you just type in h-1b they have a pretty comprehensive and obviously that’s straight from the horses now information and application process ease okay and somebody was asking is this for Canada I’m wondering if they’re asking if it’s for people who live in Canada who want to work in the US that’s my assumption so this is for anybody who is outside of the United States and wants to work here the h-1b visa yes correct there aren’t certain countries that are that it applies to not that I’m aware of I think it’s pretty much universal if you’re not in

the US but it’s visas to work in the United States yep correct yeah yeah I got another question somebody’s asking about the DV lottery program and if it works if it’s a genuine program so do you know what the DV lottery program is that one’s a new one I’m wondering if that refers to the diversity lottery program that’s related to immigration it does seem like that’s referring to the diversity Visa Lottery okay so it’s legit it’s theirs yeah and that’s also if there’s information on the USCIS site about that specific diversity program so they can they go to USCIS gov they’ll be able to find information there same way to a search it’s right there yeah my apologies I wish I could answer that sorry and a question here about the looks like it’s the stem opt program so how much time does a student have to decide whether they want to go for the OP program or go back to their respective country I imagine that’s probably on the website too um I believe that’s on the website there’s let’s see I know I know that between there’s an initial I’m sorry let me let me get my thoughts together there’s an initial opt period after that takes place for 12 months and then between that and the stem opt or the opt extension which is for an additional 24 months between those two students have to wait 60 days there’s a grace period the HS implements and but but I’m not sure if there’s a period like a time period before they accept or decline that I’m not sure about okay again like Ken said I would probably defer to USCIS okay sure that’s all we have for right now I’ll go check and see if we get more great I have a feeling there’ll be a few comments that are always or about this program because it tends to be a hot topic and in the industry yeah for sure cool well if we didn’t get to one of our viewers questions if we didn’t get to your question we can try our best to answer it in the comments on LinkedIn so you can expect a comment from us if you have a question that’s especially pressing we’ll definitely be sure to try your best to answer that yeah we’ll take a look so definitely check back in the comments for any answers we can provide it will also try to drop in a couple of links to the USCIS site etc Sharon thanks so much a ton of information here it’s obviously a very complicated series of programs affects a lot of people and lots of changes you know this is obviously we’ll be back we’re gonna have to have you back soon to see what happens before April of course but thank you so much for being here and taking the time to explain this to us of course I really appreciate the opportunity to come back and talk about this and thank you so much for bearing with my technology heady technology Fairey know we’ll we’ll definitely have you back in the meantime just a reminder if you’re watching us on YouTube you can subscribe to the YouTube channel if you’re looking at us on the LinkedIn live page you can follow the computer world page to see what episodes are coming up speaking of next Tuesday we’re going to be talking to CSOs lucien constantine to talk about cybersecurity Awareness Month if you haven’t heard of that by now you must be dead because everybody and his brother is talking about it so definitely check back next week for that in the meantime thanks Juliet this is fun thanks Karen thank you that’s it for now

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