Clarity and Strength in Immigration Law

STEM 24 Month OPT Extension: Changes, Challenges, and Compliance (Part 3 of 3)

This post is the third in a three part series of blog posts on the new STEM 24 month OPT extension regulations, which are in effect as of May 2016.

The first post in the series provides an overview of the new regulations, including a summary of what is changing and what is not.

In the second post, we will focus on the training plan requirement, and look at what types of employers the STEM 24 month OPT extension may best be suited for.

The final post in the series will look at compliance issues for both the student and the STEM OPT employer.

What are the STEM OPT Student’s Obligations for Compliance?

The F-1 STEM OPT extension student must meet the following requirements:

  1. Apply for STEM OPT before the regular OPT ends
  2. Complete and sign the training plan (I-983)
  3. Validate information in the SEVIS record and report information to the DSO within 10 days of the reporting date
  4. Complete and sign the student self-evaluation
  5. Report to the DSO any material changes to or changes from the existing training plan
  6. Notify the DSO and submit a new training plan when changing employers, within 10 days
  7. Report a change in name, residential or mailing address, employer name or address, and/or loss of employment to DSO, within 10 days
  8. Report noncompliance to the US Department of Homeland Security

What are the STEM OPT Employer’s Obligations for Compliance?

These requirements represent a big change from the previous STEM regulations. An employer who hires a STEM OPT extension student must be sure to comply with all requirements, including the following:

  1. Complete and sign the training plan (I-983)
  2. Complete and sign the student self-evaluation
  3. Report to the DSO any material changes to or changes from the existing training plan. This includes changes to the employer’s FEIN resulting from a corporate restructuring, a reduction in compensation, and any decrease in hours below 20 hours a week
  4. Report the termination of the student’s practical training to the DSO within 5 business days (or the student’s failure to report for the training for 5 consecutive business days)
  5. Report noncompliance to the US Department of Homeland Security
  6. Certify the training plan, which includes (but is not limited to) agreeing to provide compensation commensurate with similarly employed workers, and confirming that the STEM OPT extension does not replace a full-time or-part time temporary or permanent US worker

The employer should also keep in mind that by participating in this program, they are agreeing to have unannounced site visits by FDNS (Fraud Detection and National Security) officers.

Please keep in mind that there are several changes to the new STEM OPT extension. Students should coordinate carefully with their DSOs to make sure that all requirements are met.

 

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