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USCIS Changes its Position on STEM OPT Eligibility at Off Site Client Locations

Posted by Karen-Lee Pollak on Sat, May 12, 2018 @ 10:38 AM

Without any formal announcement, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has recently updated its STEM OPT webpage to reflect a change in the agency’s interpretation of the 2016 STEM optional practical training rule for F-1 students.  The webpage now clearly states that the training experience must occur on site at the employer’s principal place of business or a location to which the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has authority to make visits. Its rationale is that ICE needs such access to ensure that the employer is satisfying the program’s training requirements. The USCIS states, “the [STEM OPT] training may not take place at the place of business or worksite of the employer’s clients because ICE would lack authority to visit such sites.”  For this same reason, distance or online training are prohibited, even if the employee makes periodic visits to the employer’s office. 

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