THE FORM I-983 LOOKS VERY COMPLICATED AND EMPLOYERS/STEM EMPLOYEES MUST BE VERY CAREFUL WITH THEIR INTENTIONS, ANY MIS-REPRESENTATION OR FRAUD MAY LEAD TO SEVERE PENALTIES. Read More Below.
Please comment with your thoughts so we engage in a discussion on this Topic!
The new STEM Regulations effective May 10, 2016 will have a serious impact for OPT Students who plan to extend their OPT. The rule may create serious problems for OPTs employed with I.T.Consulting and Staffing Firms as the new Rule requires that an Employer-Employee Relationship to be established and the OPT is a direct Employee of the Employer and NOT provide services at a Third-Party Client sites as in a Regular Consulting Arrangement.
There must be an employer-employee relationship between the employer and the F-1 student. During the STEM OPT period, employment for a staffing agency and other labor-for-hire arrangement will not qualify.
I request readers to note that OPT STEM candidates may not even engage in a business activity or Volunteer Employment during the STEM Period
Volunteer employment does not qualify.
Another problem for Employers is to require submission of a plan and attest the Form I-983, which comes with several obligations. If STEM Employees/Employers do not comply with the Regulations, it is possible that they may face serious consequences. The form needs to be signed/attested by the Employer, DSO, and the Employee/Student in Question.
The DHS or ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) may, at its discretion, conduct a site visit of the employer to ensure that program requirements are being met, including that the employer possesses and maintains the ability and resources to provide structured and guided work-based learning experiences consistent
with this Plan.
The 2016 final rule that reinstates the 24-month STEM OPT regulations increases the educational benefits that F-1 students receive from their practical training experiences by requiring the submission of a formal training plan.
The formal training plan must clearly articulate the STEM OPT student’s learning objectives and affirm the employer’s commitment to helping the student achieve those objectives. To fulfill this requirement, a student and their employer must complete and sign Form I-983 and submit it to the student’s DSO.
STEM OPT students and their employers are subject to the terms and conditions of the 24-month STEM OPT extension regulations, the Form I-983 instructions and the completed Form I-983, effective as of the employment start date requested for the associated STEM OPT period, as indicated on the Form I-983.
STEM OPT students may participate in entrepreneurial ventures where the student is an employee. However, they may not act as their own employer or as the signatory for the employer for the purposes of the form.
A substantially revised STEM optional practical training (OPT) program will take effect on May 10, 2016. The new program expands OPT to 36 months for F-1 students with a qualifying U.S. STEM degree – 12 months of initial OPT plus a 24-month extension of OPT – but imposes significant new obligations on students, employers, and schools. The new requirements will apply only to those working in or seeking a grant of STEM OPT under the new regulations. The standard 12-month OPT program will remain unchanged. F-1 students granted a 17-month STEM OPT extension before May 10, 2016 will remain subject to the prior STEM rules unless they file for an additional seven months of OPT under the new rules.
Under the new regulations, F-1 students with a qualifying STEM degree can hold OPT work authorization for up to 36 months – 12 months of initial OPT and 24 months of STEM OPT. Some F-1 students who already have a 17-month STEM OPT will be eligible to apply for an additional seven months.
During an F-1’s STEM OPT period, employers will be subject to increased obligations, including:
- Completing a training plan for each F-1 on a STEM extension, and updating the plan if there are changes to the F-1’s training program;
- Conducting regular evaluations of the F-1 through the STEM extension period and submitting evaluations to the student’s designated school official (DSO);
- Making required reports to the F-1’s DSO;
- Ensuring that the F-1’s compensation and other working conditions are commensurate with those of similarly situated U.S. employees;
- Attesting that the employer will not replace a U.S. worker with an F-1 on STEM OPT and
- Undergoing compliance inspections conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
These obligations will apply only to employers of F-1s working on a STEM OPT approved under the new regulations. They do not apply during the F-1’s initial 12 months of regular OPT or during a 17-month STEM OPT that was approved beforeMay 10, 2016 and will not be further extended under the new regulation.
What types of employment are permissible during the STEM OPT period?
The 24-month STEM OPT period is limited to certain employers and employment opportunities, as follows:
- As noted above, a STEM OPT employer must be enrolled in and using the E-Verify program at the STEM OPT worksite.
- A STEM OPT employer must have an Employment Identification Number (EIN).
- The employment opportunity must be directly related to the student’s qualifying STEM degree.
- There must be an employer-employee relationship between the employer and the F-1 student. During the STEM OPT period, employment for a staffing agency and other labor-for-hire arrangement will not qualify.
- Volunteer employment does not qualify.
- An F-1 may not work concurrently for multiple employers during the STEM OPT period.
What do you think? Do you think this makes life miserable for OPT Students and IT Consulting Businesses?
PLEASE COMMENT WITH YOUR OPINIONS, THOUGHTS, SUGGESTIONS!