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New Regulations for F-1 STEM OPT

The core education subjects known as STEM for science,technology,engineering and math in white text on stylized hands and arms on a square paper background

As of May 10, 2016 a revised STEM OPT program, that, inter alia, places new requirements on employers who have hired an international student on the F-1 visa, will go into effect. These new requirements are only required when seeking a grant of STEM OPT under the new regulations. In this article, we will focus on those requirements that concern employers.

What do the new changes mean for employers?

These new regulations require employers to keep training records for the students obtaining the OPT. Furthermore, employers will be required to complete a training plan for each F-1 on a STEM extension and update the plan if there are any changes to the F-1 program. The employer shall conduct evaluations of the F-1 through the STEM extension period and submit said evaluations to the DSO. The new rule provides for 24 months of STEM-OPT as opposed to 17 months that was allowed under the old rule.

These new requirements will only affect the employers of F-1s who are working on a STEM OPT that was approved under the new regulations. These new regulations will not be effective during the first 12 months of the F-1s OPT or during the 17 month STEM OPT if it was approved before May 10, 2016.

How will the new rule affect employers filing a STEM OPT extension before May 10, 2016?

The answer to this depends on whether the F-1’s application for a STEM extension is approved either on or before May 9, 2016 or after. If approved after May 9, 2016, the employer is subject to the new requirements. With these new requirements, USCIS will request from the employer and the F-1 student, evidence that the new training plan is being implemented. Furthermore, the employer must submit the evidence of the training plan to the DSO so they receive a new I-20 form with a new STEM OPT endorsement. If the extension is approved on or before May 9, 2016, the EAD card will be effective for 17 months which will allow the F-1 to continue working for another 17 months. If approved after May 9th 2016, the EAD card is valid for 24 months.

Steps to take:

Due to the sensitivity and complexity of the new process, we highly recommend you contact an Immigration Attorney. At the Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal, Attorney Sweta has over 10 years’ experience with immigration law and is located in the heart of Silicon Valley. Attorney Sweta Khandelwal will be able to answer any questions you may have so you can make an informed decision.



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