ILW.COM - the immigration portal Immigration Daily

Home Page

Advanced search

Immigration Daily


Processing times

Immigration forms

Discussion board



Twitter feed

Immigrant Nation


CLE Workshops

Immigration books

Advertise on ILW

VIP Network


Chinese Immig. Daily


Connect to us

Make us Homepage



The leading
immigration law
publisher - over
50000 pages of free

Immigration LLC.

< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

INS Approves Signing Bonuses for F And J Nonimmigrants in the H-1B Classification Affected by the H-1B Cap This Fiscal Year

As many employers are aware, there are presently no further visa numbers available for H1-B applicants, as the numerical limitation for fiscal year 2000 has been met. The U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service recently made an important announcement regarding signing bonuses which may be accorded to an F-1 or J-1 alien by a prospective employer prior to the approval of that alien's H-1B petition. As a result of this announcement, a prospective employee may accept a signing bonus from a prospective employer while awaiting new H-1B visa numbers, which will again become available as of October 1, 2000, the beginning of the new fiscal year. The only proviso to such an acceptance is that any such signing bonus must not constitute reimbursement for services rendered, nor can it be made in anticipation of future services.

On March 17, 2000, the I.N.S. Commissioner Doris Meissner announced that she was officially extending the duration of status for certain F-1 and J-1 nonimmigrant aliens whose applications cannot be further processed by the I.N.S. because the numerical limitation on H1-B visas has been reached for this fiscal year. As a result, these persons may remain in the United States in lawful nonimmigrant status until their H-1B petitions are approved permitting the commencement of employment as of the start of the new fiscal year. She further stated that a nonimmigrant alien may receive a signing bonus before the validity date of the H-1B petition. Most importantly, however, she stated that a signing bonus does not represent a salary or reimbursement for services rendered and, as a result, may be accepted by the alien without any effect upon the pending visa petition.

To clarify this policy statement, in a letter dated May 3, 2000, the Acting Branch Chief of the Business and Trade Services Branch of the I.N.S., Efren Hernandez, officially stated that a prospective employer may give a signing bonus to a prospective employee whom the employer will sponsor for a H1-B visa, but who must wait for an H1-B visa number to become available as of October 1, 2000. What is exactly considered a signing bonus? Mr. Hernandez stated that the signing bonus may be given in any traditionally utilized form, including non-monetary signing bonuses, like stock options, but it may NOT be made in expectation of future services nor as reimbursement for services rendered.

As a consequence of these policy statements, it is presently legally permissible for a prospective employer, who has submitted an H-1B petition for a prospective employee after the numerical limitation on H-1B classifications had been reached this year, to award a signing bonus to that prospective employee, in either monetary or non-monetary form. It should be clearly and unequivocally understood between the employer and the employee, and should be well-documented that any such signing bonus does not represent reimbursement for services rendered, nor a payment in expectation of future services to be rendered by the prospective employee. It must be a flat out signing bonus, with no conditions attached.

Should you have any questions regarding this important announcement, please contact our firm to speak with one of our immigration attorneys.

NEW YORK, NY 10007
Tel: 212-233-8100, Fax: 212-233-9238
Website: www.PPID.COM

All rights reserved worldwide.