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ICE TO CARRY OUT ON-SITE INSPECTION FOR STEM OPT EMPLOYMENT

Q. What is meant by On-Site Inspection?

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will soon start On-Site inspection for STEM OPT Employment. The site inspection is meant to check the regulatory and immigration compliance of the employer and the employee pursuant to the STEM OPT Employment, based on multiple parameters, such as determination of the salary of the STEM OPT employees, availability of adequate resources for providing supervision & training to the student, and most importantly the nature of the employer-employee relationship when the employee is placed at any third-party worksite. The main motive of the intended inspection by the ICE is to ensure consistency in the information provided by the employer and the employee in Form I-983.

Q. What is Form I-983?

The Form I-983 provides for a Training Plan for STEM OPT Students, wherein the STEM OPT student, and the employer needs to provide information concerning the training program, and about any progress made by the student while undergoing the training. The employer and the STEM OPT Students are also under an obligation to keep the Designated School Official (DSO) under the loop concerning the training program.

Q. Duration of the On-Site Inspection.

The ICE site visit typically ranges from 1-2 hours, and under exceptional circumstances, it can reach up to 5 hours. ICE usually provides prior notice of inspection, which is sent through an email to the STEM OPT worker’s manager a few days ago to the date of the intended inspection. Further, under extraordinary conditions, the ICE does not provide any prior notice of inspection; this generally happens when the inspection is based on a complaint. 

 

Q. What is the possible fall out of the On-Site Inspection?

If the ICE on a site inspection, discovers any new information, which is inconsistent with the one provided under I-983, it can result in cancellation of the student status or even affect the future adjudications by the USCIS, such as at the time of the change of status. 

 

 Q.  What steps can an employer and the STEM OPT Student adopt?

The best practice is to comply with the information provided under the Form I-983 and to regularly update the DSO about any changes in the training program. Further, as per AILA, the Vermont Service Center of the USCIS has started asking the STEM OPT employers to email it the Form I-983, as part of the I-765 adjudication. Moreover, the employer and the STEM OPT Students should regularly check the USCIS website about any new updates concerning the STEM OPT Employment. 

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