The Trump administration has directed the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to crack down on foreign students who are in the U.S. using approved employment authorization documents to work for American companies.
As a result, ICE recently arrested 15 international students who were working with approved optional practical training (OPT), work permits, for allegedly fraudulently reporting employment with U.S. “companies that don’t exist.”
For background, OPT enables international students to work in the U.S. in positions related to their field of study, for up to one year, (with an additional 24 months for students in STEM fields) following graduation.
Under tough administration rules, students are now required to report employment information to the Department of Homeland Security in order to remain in status. Students on OPT who remain unemployed for more than 90 days are required to either leave the country, re-enroll in school or change to another visa status. Working for a U.S. company in a field unrelated to a students field of study is a violation of student status.
ICE plans to continue investigations of international students to verify authorized employment and reportedly intends to revoke hundreds of approved OPT work permits and even deny future STEM OPT extension applications.
As a result, international students need to be very cautious about working in jobs which are not related to their degrees. You can read more about the ICE arrests by visiting our enewsletter site at: www.americanimmigrationcentral.com
** Contributions to this Column are made by Attorney Caroly Pedersen, Esq. of the American Immigration Law Center