On August 17, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated its website to reflect changes to the Optional Practical Training Extension for STEM Students (STEM OPT). Importantly, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) clarified that participants of this program can participate in training experiences that take place at offsite locations. Training experiences that are at locations other than an employer’s principal place of business are permissible so long as all training obligations are met, such as demonstrating that the employer maintains a bona fide employer-employee relationship with the student.
DHS will review and confirm whether there is a bona-fide relationship between the parties signing the Training Plan on a case-by-case basis. DHS will also verify that the employer that signs the Training Plan is the same entity that employs and provides training experience.
USCIS also updated reporting procedures regarding STEM OPT. These reporting changes have been made to ensure that DHS can properly oversee the program. Students and employers must submit a modified Form I-983 to the Designated School Official (DSO) reporting any material changes at the earliest opportunity. In addition, employers must report a student’s termination or departure to the DSO within five business days. Students, on the other hand, must report certain changes within 10 days.
If you have questions on STEM OPT, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!