The new STEM OPT regulation will take effect May 10. The regulation allows F-1 students with degrees in approved STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields to extend their Optional Practical Training for an additional 24 months (instead of the current 17-month extension) beyond the initial one-year OPT period. Students may be eligible for one additional STEM extension if they obtain a second U.S. STEM degree at a higher level. The regulation also imposes several new reporting requirements and other obligations on students, designated school officers and employers, including a formal training plan signed by the employer and student.
Additional key points:
The updated Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) will be released May 13, and DHS has developed workarounds for the SEVIS issue to ensure students are able to file on time.
An FAQ released by U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement is available here.
BAL Analysis: Employers who need assistance and guidance with STEM Employment Authorization Document extensions may contact their BAL professional for specific advice. Given the short deadline for filing the seven-month extensions, special note should be given to these cases. Once on the new STEM Employment Authorization Document, employers will want to set up processes to notify BAL if an F-1/OPT employee’s job conditions change or if DHS contacts the employer to perform a site visit.
This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact BerryApplemanLeiden@bal.com.
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