U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services issued updated policy guidance in December regarding the F and M student nonimmigrant classifications.

Among other points, the guidance:

  • Clarifies that while F and M students must have a foreign residence that they do not intend to abandon, they may be the beneficiary of a permanent labor certification (PERM) application or immigrant visa petition and may still be able to demonstrate their intention to depart after a temporary period of stay.
  • Specifies that F students seeking the STEM Optional Practical Training extension may be employed by startup companies if the employer meets training plan requirements, remains in good standing with E-Verify and provides compensation commensurate with that provided to similarly situated U.S. workers, among other requirements.

Background: The nonimmigrant academic student (F-1) classification allows a noncitizen to enter the United States as a full-time student at a college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school or other academic institution, or in a language training program. The nonimmigrant vocational student (M-1) classification includes students in established vocational or other recognized nonacademic programs other than language training programs.

BAL Analysis: The guidance largely consolidates existing policy but is nevertheless a welcome development, particularly the portions related to green card sponsorship and STEM OPT and startup companies. A USCIS policy alert on the updated guidance is available here.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice Group.

Copyright © 2024 Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. All rights reserved. Reprinting or digital redistribution to the public is permitted only with the express written permission of Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP. For inquiries please contact copyright@bal.com.