This Memo seeks to educate you on the new and harsher regulations regarding the 24-month STEM OPT extension. The Department of Homeland Security issued this new rule effective May 10, 2016 which replaces the 17-month STEM OPT extension option. These changes may affect both the company (“Employer”) and students who plan to apply for the STEM OPT extension (“Student”). Key changes include training requirements, employer attestations, and reporting requirements. Below you will find 1) requirements for the extension; 2) STEM OPT Extension compliance measures; and 3) key points to remember to avoid liability or non-compliance:

PART I. Requirements for Extension Eligibility (the petition prepared by ALO)

*If you are applying for a STEM OPT Extension for the first time, you must:
• Have been granted OPT and currently be in a valid OPT period;
• Have earned a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree from an accredited school;
• Have a STEM degree (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics);
• Work for an Employer who meets all of the requirements (See Part II for details);
• Submit Form I-765 (Employment Authorization) & I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status) endorsed by your Designated School Official (“DSO”).
• The petition must be submitted during the Student’s validity period:
Within 90 days of current OPT’s expiration
Within 60 days after DSO enters the recommendation.

*If you are currently participating in STEM OPT based on a 17-month extension/pending application (and you want to add those 7 months), you must:
• Have at least 150 days of valid employment authorization remaining;
• Work for an Employer who meets all of the requirements (See Part II for details);
• Submit Form I-765 (Employment Authorization) & I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status) endorsed by your DSO (on or after May 10, 2016);
• The petition must be submitted during the Student’s validity period:
Within 60 days after DSO enters the recommendation and;
BEFORE August 08, 2016
Please note: Students are not required to submit this extension. They may continue with their 17-month option until it ends with the previous standards still in place.

PART II. STEM OPT Extension Compliance Measures

*If you are the EMPLOYER of a student who has been granted a 24-month STEM OPT extension, you must:
1. Be enrolled in e-verify and remain in good standing;
2. Report ALL material changes in the Student’s employment to their DSO within 5 business days of the change;
3. Implement a formal training program (see below) to enhance the student’s academic learning through practical experience;
4. Provide an OPT opportunity that corresponds with similarly situated U.S. workers in regards to work duties, hours, and compensation (ALO will include a prevailing wage page in the petition to show proper compensation is being provided);
5. Complete the Form I-983 (Training Plan) where you will make the following attestations:
You have enough resources/trained personnel available to properly train the student;
The student will not replace a full/part-time temporary or permanent US worker;
Working for you will help the student attain his or her training objectives.
Form I-983 / Formal Training Program (Employer requirement #3):
A completed Form I-983 (Training Plan) will be signed by the Employer and submitted to the Student’s DSO in order to provide endorsement (ALO can prepare this form). USCIS may request a copy as well. The DSO cannot provide the required endorsement without reviewing the contents of this form. The form will require the following:
• Disclosure of Student’s compensation and adjustments;
• An explanation of how the training is directly related to the Student’s STEM degree;
• Goals for the training along with how these goals will be achieved;
• A Performance Evaluating Process and other methods of supervision;
• Certification of Adherence to the training plan by signatory authority;
• Employer attestations (as listed above)

Please note: If any material changes in the terms/conditions of this I-983 take place, a new form must be prepared and submitted to the Student’s DSO within 10 days.
ALO will prepare a formal support letter to be submitted in the petition. This letter will include a Monday-Friday scheduled Training Plan which corresponds to the form.
6. New regulations have place restrictions on certain types of employment because they do not constitute a bona fide employer-employee relationship. The following will NOT support a STEM OPT extension:
? Employment through consulting firm arrangements
? Volunteer/unpaid positions
? Self-employment
? Multiple employer arrangements
? Sole proprietorship
? Employment through “temp” agencies
Always remember: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may visit your worksite at any time to verify that you are meeting these program requirements.
Be prepared.

*If you are the STUDENT who has been granted a 24-month STEM OPT extension, you must:
1. Report changes (legal name, residence / mailing address, e-mail address, employer’s name, employer’s address) to your DSO within 10 days of the change;
2. Report to your DSO every 6 months to confirm the information listed above;
3. Complete two self-evaluations: one within the first 12 months of OPT period and one concluding the OPT period. These must be submitted to the DSO. This responsibility is also shared with the Employer in ensuring practical training goals are met. ALO will prepare a template evaluation for you to ensure compliance with requirements.

PART III. KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER (for the Student and Employer)
• Calendar your validity periods, filing deadlines, and DSO reporting deadlines;
• Ensure Students are adhering to the formal training program and its requirements;
• Ensure Students are being paid the proper amount and are working appropriate hours;
• Ensure Students are working at the company location only (no client sites);
• In case of an ICE visit, ensure all documents are properly signed and safely stored;
• Contact ALO with any questions or concerns. We are here to help you!