US Rule Allows STEM Students On OPT To Work For Startups

Most international students in the USA are on an F-1 student visa (a non-immigrant category) that allows students to enter the U.S.A. to study at renowned colleges, universities, and other academic institutions. Moreover, students with such visas can participate in “practical training,” which is an authorized work opportunity in their field of study. This gives small businesses the opportunity to hire international students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) to cultivate new ideas in their workplace. With a recent new US government policy, STEM-OPT students can be hired by eligible startups. Let’s read more about the policy and STEM-OPT students below. 

USCIS’ New Policy For STEM Students 

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued new policy guidance for international students with F and M visa status (the M visa is for students attending vocational training programs). According to Jackson Lewis P.C., a US-based law firm, the policy manuals contain two major clarifications to help students and companies that will employ them in OPT. This guidance provides insights into numerous topics like eligibility requirements, practical training, school transfers, and employment. The clarifications of the policy are listed below: 

Firstly, STEM students are eligible for an additional two years of Optional Practical Training (OPT), meaning they have three years of work experience after study. 

Secondly, students with F and M visa status must have a residence abroad that they don’t intend to leave. These students can use PERM labor certifications or an immigrant visa petition. This policy simply means that students must maintain their foreign residence and depart if their temporary student residence expires. 

Understanding Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a temporary employment benefit program available for US international students with an F-1 student visa. Some key highlights of OPT are mentioned below: 

Eligibility – F-1 students should enroll in an academic program for at least one year to be eligible for OPT. This allows them to apply for OPT. 

Duration – Students can work for a maximum of 12 months under this program.Authorization – OPT is officially granted by USCIS for international students to work legally in the USA

Leave a Reply