A new provision in the STEM OPT rule allows DHS to perform site visits to employer locations that train STEM OPT students.
Site visits ensure that STEM OPT students receive structured and guided work-based learning experiences and reduce the potential for abuses of the STEM OPT extension. During the site visit, DHS’s intent is to confirm that information reported on the student’s Form I-983 concerning the training opportunity is accurate, while not placing an unnecessary burden on employers.
DHS will provide notice to the employer at least 48 hours in advance of any site visit, unless the visit is triggered by a complaint or other evidence of noncompliance with the STEM OPT extension regulations. In these cases, DHS reserves the right to conduct a site visit without notice.
Conducting Site Visits
Site visits 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.
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.
DHS will conduct site visits in a manner that balances the burden on the employer with the need to ensure compliance with the STEM OPT program. This means that while DHS may physically inspect some sites, it may first or instead request information concerning compliance through email or by phone. DHS will maintain information obtained during a site visit.
Oversight of Site Visits
DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is responsible for overseeing employer location site visits. ICE federal employees will be the individuals conducting site visits.
When appropriate, DHS may refer matters to the U.S. Department of Labor or any other appropriate federal, state or local agency should a site visit suggest that such a referral is warranted.
Site Visit Follow-Up
If, as a result of a site visit, DHS determines that an employer or student needs to submit updated or corrected information, this request will be sent to the employer in writing, with specific instructions on how the employer or student must submit the new information.
Download SEVP's Training STEM OPT Students presentation for more employer-related compliance information.