Mar 14, 2016

Date 03-14-2016

Dear Client:


On March 11, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published the final rule on STEM Optional Practical Training (STEM OPT) which pertains to work authorization for certain students with degrees in certain Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) fields of study. The new rule will take effect on May 10, 2016. This long-awaited rule makes sweeping changes to the current STEM OPT process.

I. The Significant Changes Included in the New Rule

• Extension of the STEM OPT period from 17 months to 24 months;

• Establishment of a required Training Plan (Form I-983: Training Plan for STEM OPT STUDENTS), which must be signed by the student and the OPT Employer and submitted to CIS with Form I-765;

• Evaluations due every 12 months in regard to Student's progress as per the Training Plan;

• Confirmation of Student's Physical Residence and Employment Status every six (6) months;

• Employer must immediately notify DSO regarding termination of the student's employment;

• Employer must attest the student will not replace a full-or part time, temporary or permanent U.S. worker;

• Employer Site Visits will be given 48 hour in advance, unless the site visit is to address complaint or evidence of noncompliance, in which case no notice will be provided;

• Unemployment remains at 90 day limit on during initial post-completion OPT but extends the STEM OPT limit to 150 days of unemployment.

II. Provisions that Remain the Same

• All employers of STEM OPT individuals must be enrolled in E-Verify and be in good standing;

• Employers must report changes in a STEM OPT individual's employment within five (5) business days;

• STEM OPT individuals must report name/address changes or changes in employment to their Designated School Official (DSO);

• Cap-Gap extension remains if a timely H-1B petition is filed.

Employers or STEM-eligible applicants with questions or concerns regarding this new rule and its implementation should contact their Nair Law Group Counsel for further information.