The new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) OPT regulations issued in March create a new set of requirements and benefits for students and employers seeking to participate in the program. For those not familiar with STEM and OPT, these concepts relate to foreign students and work authorization which typically applies after the student completes a degree program. The traditional OPT, which stands for optional practical training, program allows the foreign student up to twelve months of work authorization per program of study (degree level) to obtain practical on-the-job type experience before returning home. There are special rules for foreign students within the STEM degree fields that allow the OPT time to extend out an additional 24 months. This extra OPT time comes with some strings attached for the employer.
The primary addition in the new rule relates to training plans and evaluative processes. Foreign students must now have a training plan that sets out goals for the STEM practical training period. The plan requires a description of the skills, techniques and knowledge the student will obtain through the opportunity with the employer as well as an evaluation process and a description of how the student will be supervised. These new requirements take effect for STEM extensions filed by students after May 10th.
For more information on the new STEM program click here.