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STEM OPT May Be Limited to In-House Work Only

Last week, USCIS updated its STEM OPT guidance webpage, limiting the types of employers who can employ STEM OPT students. This update comes from a new interpretation of what constitutes a bona fide employer-employee relationship between the company and the student.

Generally, USCIS has provided that:

  • The employer that signs the Form I-983 Training Plan for STEM OPT Students must be the same entity that provides the practical training to the student, utilizing its own personnel.

  • The training experience must take place on-site at the employer’s place of business or worksite, and may not take place at the place of business or worksite of the employer’s client or customer, because ICE would lack authority to visit such sites.

  • Since ICE would be unable to access the location, online or distance learning arrangements may not be used to fulfill the employer’s training obligation to the student. For example, the employer may not fulfill its training obligation by having the student make periodic visits to the employer’s place of business to receive training, while he or she is actually working at the business or worksite of a client or customer.

  • Staffing and temporary agencies may seek to employ students under the STEM OPT program, but only if they provide the training at its own place of business.

This will have a substantial impact on staffing and temporary agencies, as well as consulting firms, and it appears that remote work of any kind may no longer be permitted for STEM OPT Students. At this time, we have not seen any additional updates on when or how this may be implemented, including how this will affect students with approved STEM OPT based on off-site work. Please check back, as we will provide updates as new information comes out regarding this topic.  

Please find the link below for more information: