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USCIS Clarifies EVerify Requirement for STEM OPT Extension for F1 students
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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that F-1 students who are applying for a 17-month extension of optional practical training (OPT) on the basis of a degree in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) field must have a job or job offer from an employer that is enrolled and in good standing in the E-Verify employment eligibility verification program at the site where the student will be employed. If the STEM graduate is employed by more than one employer, all of the graduate's employers must comply with the E-Verify requirement.

Under USCIS's new OPT regulation; an F-1 student who has a degree in a STEM field that is the basis for the student's current period of OPT is eligible for a 17-month extension of practical training, provided that he or she is employed by a business that is enrolled and in good standing in the E-Verify program. As published, the regulation does not specify the extent to which an employer must use E-Verify in order to employ a STEM graduate on extended OPT. For example, many employers use E-Verify at specific locations only, rather than company-wide. However, USCIS has now clarified that it is not enough for the employer to merely be registered in E-Verify at any location; it must be enrolled in and properly using E-Verify at the site where the STEM graduate will be employed. The employer must provide its E-Verify identification number for inclusion on the STEM graduate's Form I-765 application for employment authorization.

Note that the employer should use the E-Verify system to confirm the STEM graduate's employment eligibility only if the graduate is a new hire. E-Verify cannot be used to verify the employment eligibility of existing employees.

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