September 30, 2019

ICE Begins Conducting On-Site Inspections for STEM OPT Employment

According to recent news reports, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) has started conducting on-site inspections for STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) employment. The Department of Homeland Security has also updated its Study in the States website to include some details about the on-site inspection. Specifically, site visits could involve a review of the following:

· How the STEM OPT employee’s salary was determined;

· Whether sufficient structure exists to provide supervision and training of the STEM OPT employee;

· The nature of the employer/employee relationship at any third-party worksites; and

· Whether the STEM OPT employee’s work-based learning experience is consistent with the information supplied on the Form I-983 (Training Plan for STEM OPT Students).

Thus far, reports indicate that the typical length of site visits ranges from 1 to 2 hours. In addition, ICE has so far provided 2 days’ notice of the inspection by emailing the STEM OPT employee’s manager. However, it is important to note that ICE is not likely to provide such notice in all cases, especially if the inspection was prompted by a complaint.

In light of these new on-site inspections, we encourage employers of STEM OPT workers to carefully review the Form I-983 and update the Training Plan as needed. Furthermore, the employer and the STEM OPT employee should both be familiar with the content of the I-983 and be prepared to explain the training opportunity to the ICE officer.

Because STEM OPT on-site inspections are a new practice, we encourage employers to continue checking the Study in the States website and watch for additional updates. If you have questions about STEM OPT on-site inspections, please contact our office today.

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