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Aug 29, 2018

Third-Party-Placements Once Again Permitted under OPT

Joshua H. Rolf and Jonathan A. Grode

Earlier this year, we reported on an apparent change to USCIS’ website that would prohibit F-1 Students working under STEM Optional Practical Training (“OPT”) to be placed at third-party worksites, no matter the circumstances. At the conclusion of this advisory, we noted that the American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”) had raised the issue to the Department of Homeland Security, which planned to review the new guidance that would severely limit F-1 STEM OPT workers from obtaining valuable professional experience.

Recently, USCIS confirmed that it has amended its stance on this issue, allowing third-party placements for F-1 STEM OPT workers in certain situations. Specifically, and as confirmed on its STEM OPT website, “STEM OPT participants may engage in a training experience that takes place at a site other than the employer’s principal place of business as long as all of the training obligations are met, including that the employer has and maintains a bona fide employer-employee relationship with the student.” This approach matches-up with the employer-employee relationship required in the H-1B context, and represents a reasonable alteration to USCIS’ treatment of F-1 STEM OPT workers seeking professional experience in real-world situations. 

If you have any questions regarding a potential or existing third-party placement for an F-1 STEM OPT worker, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

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