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Unshackled #5: USCIS fee hikes, H-1B job board, & compelling circumstances EAD

published4 months ago
5 min read


Happy Wednesday. ✨

Soundarya here, from Unshackled. :)

I’ll be soon recruiting proof-readers for my book, Unshackled. For now, if you’d like to be one of the first few people to read and give feedback on sections of the book, just hit reply and let me know.

Thanks to a post of mine on LinkedIn that went viral (!), we welcome almost 600 new wonderful folks to the newsletter since last week. If you joined based on that post: welcome :) I really hope you find the newsletter valuable & would love your feedback.

Now, onto the top stories!

This week's TL;DR

  • Just 32 days more to voice your comments on the USCIS proposed fee hikes. Give your feedback here.
  • FY24 “cap-subject” H-1B initial registration opens between March 1st to March 17th.
  • A job board put together by businesses in Chicago for laid-off H-1B workers.

📌 Stories you should know about

US visa fees set to soar in 2023: Make your voice heard in < 2 minutes

You’ve probably heard about USCIS’ proposed fee hikes for pretty much every visa application out there. This is the first hike since 2016, and it’s a pretty significant one. For e.g. filing for an H-1B is increased to $780 from $460, and for O-1 it's even higher at $1055. The biggest jump of all happened for the EB-5 investor visa, from $3,675 to $11,160. You have 32 days until you can share your feedback on the fee hikes & make your voice heard. And it takes less than 2 minutes: click here, click on “Submit a formal comment”, and share your feedback. USCIS will go through every comment — so make yours heard!

FY24 “cap-subject” H-1B initial registration opens March 1st, 2023

Heads up, folks! If you or someone you know is looking to apply for H-1B, now’s the time to get ready. H-1B cap registration will open between March 1st to Mar 17th. Talk to your employer and get started on the registration process. There were over 480,000 applications received last year, and there’s a good chance the number will be over 400,000 this year too. This isn’t great news if you’re applying, but know that there’s something called the “cap-exempt” H-1B for you if you work at a university, non-profit, or government-funded entity.

Indians to brace for likely Green Card delays even for EB-1 category

The current cut-off date for EB-1 for Indian and Chinese nationals is February 1st, 2022. What does that mean? If you filed for your EB-1A on February 1st, 2022, you would’ve gotten it today. Essentially, it means that it will take a year of waiting to get your EB-1A green card after it gets approved. I know that’s not fun to hear — but with the USCIS fee hike, the promise from the government is to clear up the backlogs and hire more personnel, so I’m hoping this doesn't get too out of hand.

🎁 Resources curated for you

Chicago H-1B Connect: Helping folks who got laid off on H-1B

If you or anyone you know on H-1B was affected by the recent wave of tech layoffs, check out the Chicago H-1B Connect: an exclusive job board put together by businesses in Chicago that want to welcome immigrants and sponsor their H-1B. As of now, they seem to show 1,200+ open positions!

Should you consider the I-140 “Compelling Circumstances” EAD if you were laid off?

Something called the “Compelling Circumstances EAD” has been making rounds on WhatsApp groups with people calling that out to be a viable option for folks who got laid off. While USCIS did mention it as a potential option on their site, it’s important to temper some of the optimism. If you’re considering this path, check out this post by Sameer Khedekar, an immigration lawyer, and reach out to him for further help.

The legal aspects of early-stage startup fundraising

If you’re a founder, and specifically an immigrant founder, this is worth giving a read. Legalpad clarifies the definition of various terms like “convertible notes” and “preferred stock”, while sharing advice specific to immigrant founders. (TL;DR: you can start a company and raise money on a visa).

💡 None of the information shared in this newsletter is meant to be legal advice. If you're looking for legal advice, speak to a lawyer, or hit reply and let me know so I can connect you with one.

📕 What's the latest on Unshackled?

There’s a phase while writing a book when you feel equal parts overwhelmed and excited. I’m in that phase now with Unshackled, [FORMATTED_FIRST_NAME GOES HERE]. There’s a ton of work to be done over the next few months, but it’s all energizing.

The past week, I’ve been working on three chapters mainly: L-1 visa, EB-2 NIW green card, and the intro to the whole book (where we’ll take you through the gripping story of what happened in 2013-14 when the Obama administration tried overhauling immigration). In parallel, Ben (my researcher) is building a repository of resources for EB-1A aspirants, which we plan to share with anyone who purchases the book.

The design of the book is continually being improved: below is a sample page from the book where the work is still in progress. We’re paying attention to every element on the page (heading color, font size, spacing, emphasis elements, etc) so that when you read the book, it feels seamless and enjoyable.

Our goal is to finish the manuscript with all edits and feedback from proof-readers by the end of March, send it to the printer by mid-April, and get the book into the hands of everyone who preordered by mid-May.

Speaking of which, if you haven't yet, be the 765th person to pre-order the book below. 👇

Thank you so much for reading till here, [FORMATTED_FIRST_NAME GOES HERE]!

Got a burning question? Did you come across a resource that seemed useful? Want to say hi?

Whatever it is, hit reply and tell me more. I read and respond to every email.

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Until next week, stay awesome.

Yours truly,

Soundarya 💚

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Help immigrants in America take control.

I help immigrants in America stay informed on the latest news, resources, and trends around immigration and take control of their future in the country.