STEM OPT From Employer’s Standpoint

The new STEM OPT regulations have a potential impact on the employers. Some of the FAQs are listed below for the employer’s quick reference.

Question: Are the employers responsible for Form I-983?
Answer: Yes, the STEM OPT employers must work with the student to complete Form I-983 and an Official with the Signatory Authority must certify that the information is true and correct. The employer is responsible to provide specific information about the company, practical training schedule, compensation and a formal training plan. The STEM OPT official with the Signatory Authority must be familiar with the student’s goal and performance.

Question: Can the student work at end client location?
Answer: No, the student has to be employed at the STEM OPT employer’s locations only and can not work at the end client sites.

Question: Is the STEM OPT employer obliged to follow prevailing wages?
Answer: Yes, the employment has to be paid at the prevailing wage of the company location and minimum 20 hours of work at the prevailing wage has to be given.

Question: DHS will conduct any site visits to employer locations where STEM OPT students are trained?
Answer: Yes, the new provision allows DHS to conduct site visits where STEM OPT students are trained to ensure they receive structured and guided work based learning and experience. During the site visit, DHS will confirm that the training opportunity is accurate, as reported on student’s Form I-983. DHS will provide a notice of 48 hours in advance of any site visit. If there is any complaint or noncompliance of STEM OPT regulations, DHS may not provide notice. Also, if DHS requires any updated or correct information, it will notify the employer in writing with specific instructions after the site visit.

Question: Should the STEM OPT employer report to DSO of any material change?
Answer: Yes, any material change or material deviations must be reported to the DSO. The material changes can be change of Employer Identification Number, reduction in student compensation, significant decrease in hours per week, or change in employer’s commitment or student’s learning objectives as documented on the Form I-983. But these changes will not cease student’s employment authorization.