On April 18, 2017 President Trump signed Executive Order 13788 entitled, "Buy American and Hire American." One important component of this Executive Order reads:
"Hire American generally refers to the body of law and policy concerning how our immigration, visa and guest worker programs are operated to ensure protections for American workers."
In response to this new Executive Order, USCIS is very carefully reviewing Optional Practical Training (OPT) applications and has revised some of the information students must include with their application. This means that the process is a bit more difficult and may take more time to review and approve.
What does this mean to you?
- Apply early for your OPT - you can apply up to 90 days before the end of your program.
- USCIS is no longer required to send requests for evidence. That means that if they determine that there is a problem or question with your application they are likely to deny the request, send the entire application back and we'll need to start again. By applying early we want to try to ensure that if that happens there is time to re-apply.
- Understand that the OPT process could be more difficult than in the past.
CPT's Impact on OPT
While the immigration laws concerning CPT(curricular practical training) and OPT have not been changed, USCIS is now raising more questions about the amount of time students are spending in CPT and how it might impact their ability to use OPT. Again, the existing rules have not changed - yet. However, it is possible that a change could be made in the future and as we have seen with other changes they can sometimes be applied retroactively.
Here is what the Code of Federal Regulations currently states with regard to CPT:
(i) Curricular practical training. An F-1 student may be authorized by the DSO to participate in a curricular practical training program that is an integral part of an established curriculum. Curricular practical training is defined to be alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school. Students who have received one year or more of full time curricular practical training are ineligible for post-completion academic training Per 8CFR 214.2(f)(10)Ii)
Beginning immediately students are being required to list all prior CPT approved positions on their OPT application. Again, while the existing regulations have NOT changed it appears that USCIS is raising concerns over student who have done close to or at least 12 months of part time CPT.
What does this mean to you?
- If you are considering CPT as part of your degree program speak with someone in the International Office early to ensure that your proposed plan is appropriate.
- All CPT must be for credit in your major
- You must be registered for CPT credit and receive that credit during the semester you are completing the internship. (Ex. if you are interning in the spring you must be registered for the course and obtain the credit in the spring.)