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U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced Tuesday that it is creating the Optional Practical Training (OPT) Employment Compliance Unit, a full-time unit dedicated to monitoring and investigating employer and student compliance with OPT and Curricular Practical Training (CPT) programs.
The OPT Employment Compliance Unit will have authority to:
Background: The OPT and CPT programs allow F-1 students to be employed under qualifying training programs for up to 12 months. In 2008, the OPT-STEM extension was introduced allowing eligible students with STEM degrees to extend their one-year OPT program for an additional 17 months. In 2016, a regulation replaced the 17-month OPT-STEM extension with a 24-month OPT-STEM extension.
BAL Analysis: The announcement states that the new unit is intended to ensure that employers are not using OPT programs in a way that harms U.S. workers or foreign student employees. Employers should anticipate greater scrutiny and enforcement of all requirements under OPT, OPT-STEM extension and CPT programs, and are encouraged to review their policies and procedures. BAL can assist in a compliance review and assessment.
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