In May 2018, USCIS quietly changed the rules for offsite STEM OPT workplace placement on its website that disallowed STEM OPT students from being placed with a third party. For many foreign nationals who travel to the United States to study and earn a bachelor’s degree in the fields of science, technology, engineering or mathematics (“STEM”), the 24-month extension of their Optional Practical Training (“OPT”) is a critical to their growth and professional development in their field of study. USCIS originally claimed that a broad prohibition of offsite placement was necessary to ensure ICE’s ability to conduct site visits and enforce program requirements. To learn more about the original rule change, please click here.
in August 2018, USCIS have updated its STEM OPT website, again without announcement, clarifying that employers can place STEM OPT students and third-party worksites provided that all STEM OPT regulatory training obligations are met. Now, as long as the STEM employers and the students have a valid employer-employee relationship, and the employer that signs the STEM training plan is the same entity that employs the students and provides the practical training experience, third party placement can be permissible under the STEM OPT program. USCIS also took this opportunity to remind employers and students to adhere to all STEM OPT reporting requirements which are also listed on the website. To learn more about H-1B visa requirements, please click here, to learn more about other options for working in the United States, please click here.
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