Tuesday, May 17, 2016

New OPT Rules - The only one that really matters

Let us go over the new OPT rules. The only rules that most F1 students really care about is:

Restrictions on certain types of employment arrangements

The preamble to the final rule [81 FR 13079] states that,
"There are several aspects of the STEM OPT extension that do not make it apt for certain types of arrangements, including multiple employer arrangements, sole proprietorships, employment through “temp” agencies, employment through consulting firm arrangements that provide labor for hire, and other relationships that do not constitute a bona fide employer-employee relationship. One concern arises from the difficulty individuals employed through such arrangements would face in complying with, among other things, the training plan requirements of this rule. Another concern is the potential for visa fraud arising from such arrangements. Furthermore, evaluating the merits of such arrangements would be difficult and create additional burdens for DSOs. Accordingly, DHS clarifies that students cannot qualify for STEM OPT extensions unless they will be bona fide employees of the employer signing the Training Plan, and the employer that signs the Training Plan must be the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience. DHS recognizes that this outcome is a departure from SEVP's April 23, 2010 Policy Guidance (1004-03)."

This rule is about as crystal clear as possible.  You can work directly at a consulting firm if they are directly responsible for a project and you are provided with a supervisor and a training plan that is followed.

If you are working with a consulting firm that simply supplies labor for hire, like most consulting companies, then you simply cannot work for them. But you can still work companies like Capgemni, Wipro, Infosys etc. and other large consulting companies if they are directly responsible for the project.

if you are planning to work for a smaller consulting company that simply supplies labor for hire, then you are risking your 24 month OPT.  Do not do it.  Find yourself a direct employer.