Changes in STEM-OPT Supervision & Training

Practice Areas

By: Angelita Chavez-Halaka

On January 24, 2018, USCIS published an updated STEM-OPT guidance on employer responsibilities related to the training and supervision of trainees. It clarifies that STEM-OPT beneficiaries must be trained by the sponsoring employer on-site and must not be placed at end-client sites.

 What is STEM-OPT?

Post-completion optional training is a program that was created to allow certain F-1 students who obtain degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to gain hands-on experience and training in their area of study. General employer responsibilities include providing training that enhances the student’s academic learning.

 Impact on STEM-OPT Sponsors: There are two major changes regarding STEM-OPT training and supervision that impact sponsors. USCIS states that:

  1. Trainees must be trained and supervised by a manager of the sponsoring company at the sponsoring company’s location; and
  2. Trainees may not work at an end-client site.

This USCIS guidance effectively confirms that STEM-OPT beneficiaries must be supervised by the employer listed on the Form I-983 training plan.  Third party supervision, or supervision by end-client will not be considered in compliance with this requirement.

Moreover, USCIS further clarifies that training opportunities must be provided on-site by the employer listed on the Form I-983 for purposes of ICE visits.

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