For F-1 students and employers participating in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) optional practical training (OPT) program, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) may visit employer locations.
Overview of Employer Site Visits
The March 2016 STEM OPT rule allows the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to conduct site visits of employers that train STEM OPT students. These are routine visits that SEVP initiated shortly after the rule became effective in 2016.
Reasons for Employer Site Visits
The visits provide a mechanism for DHS to ensure that STEM OPT students are engaged in a structured, work-based learning experience that is consistent with the goals of practical training and with the information supplied on the student’s Form I-983, “Training Plan for STEM OPT Students.” DHS visits a cross-section of employers to obtain information about the mentoring process and assess how the program is working for students and employers. Per the 2016 STEM OPT rule, employers will receive advanced notification prior to a site visit.
How to Prepare
Students and designated school officials (DSOs) can take steps to prepare for site visits to student employers.
- Students: Make sure your employer information and home addresses are up-to-date by updating your information via the SEVP Portal or reporting updates to your school official. Your employer address should be the address you report to for work. If you work at a client site, which is different from the employer address, the client name and address should be listed along with the STEM OPT employer.
- DSOs: Be prepared to provide the student’s Form I-983 if requested and ensure the Form I-983 is up-to-date. DSOs are encouraged to use the upload evidence functionality in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
What to Expect
As part of a site visit, DHS may:
- Confirm that the employer has sufficient resources and supervisory personnel to effectively maintain the program.
- Ask employers to provide the evidence they used to assess wages of similarly situated U.S. workers.
In an effort to streamline the review process, DHS may request information concerning compliance by email or phone before conducting an inspection. This request may seek to confirm the work locations of STEM OPT students and their supervisors or may request documentation on the STEM OPT program to assist in assessing the commensurate wage requirements or similar regulatory requirements.
For more information about the rules and regulations regarding employer site visits, please visit the Employer Site Visits page on the STEM OPT Hub on Study in the States. For case specific questions, students should reach out to their designated school official or they can contact the SEVP Response Center.