Indian students in USA stand to benefit all thanks to a change recently made by USCIS (the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services). The change was a reversal of a former guideline about STEM students. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Students from these streams are called STEM students.
Earlier this year, the USCIS website stated a formal rule which prohibited STEM students from OPT at customer worksites. Now, the rule has been reversed, meaning the STEM students can apply for their OPT even for the jobs where their training will involve direct customer dealing.
What is OPT meaning?
OPT full form stands for Optional Practical Training. It is usually a paid training done by international students with F-1 Visa in USA. The training is done in an industry, which is related to your specialization field of study. When it is for the students of STEM, it is usually known as STEM-OPT. if students opt for OPT before their graduation program completes, it is called Pre-completion OPT. If OPT is done after completion of the program, it is called Post-completion OTP.
International students in USA can apply for 12 months of OPT, with students from STEM courses in USA can apply for a further 24-month STEM OPT extension.
STEM-OPT rule & the changes:
In Early 2018, the official website of USCIS stated that international students from STEM streams cannot observe their OPT on customer worksites. In short, students from Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics cannot be chosen for OPT by employers to work where there are direct customer dealings. The students cannot be hired where they will be dealing directly with the customers. Because of this, the employers can give opportunities to these students on their worksites.
With these rules in practice, the OPT job opportunity for STEM students drastically decreased. As not every organization/employer will necessarily have an environment not directly linked to customer dealings. That risked career opportunities for Indian Students in USA, since STEM streams have a large percentage of students pursuing graduate programs.
Revision and Changes:
Recently, USCIS had removed the rule from the implementation. This means that the industry can again hire STEM students for OPT, even if the training position is on the customer worksite. This bears as good news for thousands of Indian students in the USA, and another thousand looking to Study in USA.
Other Important Rules about OTP:
According to USCIS, the employer and employee must meet the STEM-OPT training requirement that is predefined. Some of the Requirements are:
- Employers must carry outa training plan to perform I-983.
- Employers must have sufficient resources and Training Personnel to carry out the training.
- A written training program document.
- A bona fide Employee-Employer Relationship (student should not be an employee ‘in name only and should not work on ‘volunteer basis’)
- Students should not replace a full-time or part-time, permanent or temporary US worker.
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