The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has streamlined its policy manual regarding international students in F and M status, offering enhanced clarity on various aspects, including eligibility requirements, school transfers, and employment options. This move aims to provide comprehensive guidance to both international students and US educational institutions.
According to The Times Of India, a release from Jackson Lewis P.C., a law firm based in the United States, states that there are two updates to the policy manual that are especially beneficial for students and the companies that hire them for Optional Practical Training (OPT).
Extended OPT For STEM Students
Students in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields are now eligible for an additional two years of Optional Practical Training (OPT), totaling three years of post-study work experience. The guidance addresses concerns about start-up companies supporting STEM OPT extensions, specifying that, if certain conditions are met, being a start-up does not disqualify a company.
Green Card Application And Student Status
The policy clarifies that students in F and M status, who must maintain a foreign residence, can still be beneficiaries of PERM labor certifications or an immigrant visa petition. Initiating a green card application doesn't automatically jeopardize student status. However, consular and Custom Border Protection (CBP) officers will assess individual cases to determine compliance with foreign residence requirements.
These clarifications, particularly regarding STEM OPT extensions and concurrent green card applications, bring more transparency to the complex landscape of international students' stay in the US. The USCIS aims to facilitate a smoother process for both students and educational institutions, offering a clear framework for navigating post-study work options and potential immigration paths.