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Newsletter #1: USCIS hikes prices, 15-min free consults, & layoff resources

January 22, 2023

Welcome to the new, revamped weekly newsletter where I share insights on immigration. I was down with the flu and COVID-19 for two weeks in December, followed by moving countries (Surprise: I'm in India now!). So I apologize for not sending this newsletter for a few weeks. But, the extra time gave me a chance to create it from scratch again.Hope you like this new format. Let me know what you think -- I'm just an email away!

Immigration is a complex world. So every Wednesday, I try to simplify that by sharing top stories, curated resources, & fun tweets from the internet. I also sprinkle it with updates on my book, Unshackled, at the end. If you want to get this straight to your email inbox, come sign up! You can read all past editions here. 💃 

📌 Stories you should know about

USCIS hikes up prices for pretty much every visa, including the H-1B, O-1, & EB-5​USCIS makes 96% of its funding from application fees. Sooo that means every time they need more funding to, say, hire more personnel or update their technology, they have to turn to us, the immigrants, for the extra funding. Not Congress. They've increased the application fee for pretty much every visa category out there, except for humanitarian applications & asylum seekers. In their words, they are "distributing fees based primarily on the filers’ ability to pay." So it makes sense that the EB-5 application jumped from $3,675 to a whopping $11,160.Congressional Reps have asked to extend H-1B "grace period" to 120 days​140,000 tech workers lost their jobs in 2022. 10-15% of that were immigrants on visas. If you too fall in that category, you know about the fateful "60-day" grace period, which is the time you get before you have to leave the country. Anna Eshoo and Zoe Lofgren, two democratic representatives, have called on the federal authorities to extend this to 120 days. It's very possible that this doesn't lead to any change, as with most immigration bills. But it's a step in the right direction.​The EAGLE Act, which would've helped folks from India & China, is dead​The EAGLE Act, also known as the "Equal Access To Green Card For Legal Employment", was proposed by Rep. Zoe Lofgren back in 2008, to remove the "country-cap" for employment-based green cards, which would've mainly helped tech workers from India & China. It has a long and complicated history; but for now it remains a dream as it was not brought up in 2022 in the House for a vote. With Republicans taking over the House from 2023, the chance of it being brought up is slim.

🎁 Resources curated for you

​15-min free consultations if you're looking for an O-1, EB-1, or EB-2 NIW​PassRight, an immigration tech startup that specializes in extraordinary visas, is offering 15-min free consultations for folks who want to do a quick evaluation of their profile for an O-1, EB-1, or EB-2 NIW visas. Make use of this!​6 options for you to stay back in America if you got laid off on a visa​I wrote a post on all the options at your disposal if you got laid off and want to stay back in America. Soon after I posted this, USCIS launched a memo from their end with your options. A lot of people got optimistic reading this memo, thinking that they could apply for the "Compelling Circumstances EAD." I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you're planning to apply for that, please read this post first.​List of employers who are hiring & ready to sponsor a visa​Zeno, a new immigration-tech startup, crowdsourced a list of employers who are still hiring and willing to sponsor your visa! Check it out, and share it with a friend who might benefit from this.

📕What's the latest on Unshackled?

Writing & research: My fantastic researcher, Ben Merrill, and I are meeting everyday to make slow but steady progress on all the chapters. We're 50% through the book now. My estimate is to finish the whole manuscript by the end of March and send it for printing in April.Design: Now that I'm in India, I'll be meeting my designer, Komal Telagavi, in-person to sit with her and finalize the design system for the book. I guarantee you would not have read a book as visually pleasing like Unshackled!Community: I know many of you are waiting to know what's happening with the community. For now, to ensure we write the best book possible, the focus is on the book. But as February comes by, I'll share more updates on the community. It's always there at the back of my mind!Hey, by the way, if you haven't yet, be the 716th person to pre-order the book below. 👇Get UnshackledThank you so much for reading till hereUntil next week, stay cozy.Yours truly,Soundarya 💚​


Unshackled is the name of a book and its accompanying online community. On here, you’ll find articles on everything from building your profile for an O-1A visa to starting a company on your H-1B. Want to get such resources directly in your Inbox? Join 7000 immigrants who hear from us every Wednesday.

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