Forbes reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is conducting on-site inspections at worksites of students working on STEM OPT. Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) Optional Practical Training (OPT) employment is a 24-month period of temporary training for certain foreign national students, which directly relates to the students program of study in an approved STEM field. Although this is a new practice, under the regulations ICE has the authority to conduct these compliance site inspections.
According to the Department of Homeland Security’s Study in the States website, the site inspection will address how the salary of STEM OPT employees is determined, whether there is sufficient structure to provide supervision and training of the employee, and the nature of the employer/employee relationship at any third party worksites. The website states the following:
Site [inspections] will be limited to checking information related to student STEM OPT employment and ensuring that students and employers are engaged in work-based learning experiences that are consistent with the information supplied on the student’s Form I-983.
Because of the site inspections, employers and students should:
- Carefully review Form I-983, Training Plan for STEM OPT Students, and instructions. Form I-983 provides specific information about the training program.
- Notify the designated school official (DSO) if there are any material changes to the training program.
- Update Form I-938 with the student’s progress in the training program.
- Be familiar with Form I-938s content.
- Be prepared to describe the training program to the ICE officer.
As with any site inspection, front line employees, such as security officers or administrative staff, should ask the ICE officer for a business card, and ask the officer to wait until a designated person at the worksite is called. While the ICE officer may want to tour the worksite, we recommend the officer be accompanied by a designated person on-site.
Please contact our office to assist with STEM OPT applications and with questions about ICE’s compliance site inspections.