ICE Increasing Site Visits at STEM OPT Work Locations

August 15, 2019

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has recently been conducting site visits at work locations to check compliance with STEM OPT regulations. Although ICE has long had the authority to make site visits for STEM OPT training, reports of site visits were very limited in the past. Lately, there have been reports from employers and students that site visits have been occurring on a more regular basis.

During a site visit, ICE can review several aspects of international students OPT training. This can include a review of pay documents to ensure that the student is being paid properly, a review of the I-983 training plan to ensure that the plan as submitted is being followed, and a review of the trainee’s workspace.

In short, ICE site visits are designed to provide a firsthand view of the STEM OPT student’s training arrangement to ensure that employers and students meet program requirements, including that they are complying with I-983 statements and that employers possess the ability and resources to provide structured and guided work-based learning experiences in accordance with the training plan. Inconsistencies between the opportunity as described in the training plan and what the student is actually doing can have serious consequences for students and employers.

This recent increase in site visits for STEM OPT training experiences is an extension of the current administration’s focus on strict enforcement of the immigration laws. It is important that students and STEM OPT employers accurately and comprehensively complete the Form I-983 training plan before applying for STEM OPT. Any material changes in the plan require an updated training plan to be submitted. Any questions associated with STEM OPT issues at Penn should be addressed to the student’s ISSS advisor.  Additional information about STEM requirements and employer site visits can be found here.