The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has issued a final rule that allows foreign graduates of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (“STEM”) programs from U.S. universities an additional 24 months of F-1 Optional Practical Training (“OPT”) work authorization. The final rule will go into effect on May 10th. The rule will allow STEM OPT extensions of up to 24 months, replacing the current rule that allows for only 17-month extensions. The core purpose of the STEM OPT extension is to allow participating students to supplement their academic knowledge with valuable practical STEM experience.
What Employers Need to Know
Currently, in order for F-1 students to be eligible for the STEM extension, they must be employed by employers who participate in E-Verify. Under the new rule, employers also will be required to implement formal training plans and add wage and other protections for STEM OPT students and U.S. workers.
Students and employers will be required to submit a formal training plan (i.e., learning objectives for the student) and certain employer attestations to protect the U.S. workforce—both of which the student and employer must submit on Form I-983 Training Plan for STEM OPT Students.
New reporting requirements will apply for students and their employers, including confirmation of the student’s physical residence and employment status every six months, regular evaluations regarding the student’s progress with the training plan, and immediate notification regarding termination of the student’s employment.
The new rule will permit DHS to conduct site visits at employer locations in which STEM OPT students are employed. The DHS will generally give advance notice of such visit.
If you have any questions about filing a STEM extension under the new OPT Rule, please contact Attorney Silas Ruiz-Steele, Chair of the Immigration Law group, at (610) 898-7153 or firstname.lastname@example.org.