Effective May 10, 2016, a new rule published by the DHS extended the Optional Practical Training program for international F-1 students pursuing training in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to 24 months. Along with this extension, the DHS has increased employer reporting requirements and added the potential for employer site visits.
The STEM OPT program requires employers to designate an official to certify information, complete a training plan, and file Form I-983. Form I-983 requires employers describe the specific skills, techniques, or knowledge the student is expected to gain and demonstrate how those tasks directly relate to the student’s STEM degree. Employers are also required to detail their oversight of the STEM OPT student, and must be familiar with the student’s progress, as they must attest to the accuracy of the student’s annual self-evaluation. Lastly, the employer must notify the designated school official within five business days if employment is terminated for any reason.
The new rule allows the DHS to perform employer site visits to locations with STEM OPT students in order to promote the integrity of the program. During such visits, the DHS will verify the information provided on Form I-983. DHS may also check that the employer has sufficient supervisory personnel and resources to conduct the program. Employers will be given 48-hour notice, unless the site visit is triggered by a complaint.
If you have any questions regarding your STEM OPT program, please do not hesitate to CONTACT US.