I have been self-employed and working as a contractor during the first 12 months of optional practical training (OPT) after graduating with a degree in a STEM field. …

… I will be eligible to apply for the 24-month STEM OPT extension in a couple of months. Can I continue to work for my own business? My company is registered with E-Verify.


In its preamble to the May 10, 2016 STEM rule, USCIS indicated, “… there are several aspects of the STEM OPT extension that do not make it apt for certain types of [employment] arrangements.” These arrangements include those employment relationships that “do not constitute a bona fide employer-employee relationship.” The USCIS provided specific examples of such relationships, including “multiple employer arrangements, sole proprietorship [e.g. self-employment], employment through ‘temp’ agencies, [and] employment through consulting firm arrangements that provide labor for hire.” Therefore, self-employment, along with the other types of arrangements listed by the USCIS, may not be a viable type of employment for STEM OPT. (22.Apr.2016)

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