USCIS “Reminds” Universities and F-1 Students to Update Employer Information24 Aug 2020
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued a reminder to universities and F-1 students employed pursuant to post-completion optional practical training (OPT) to ensure that changes in employer information are updated in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Per the USCIS reminder, “[f]ederal regulations require F-1 aliens to notify their [designated school official (DSO)] within 10 days of any changes to their personal or employment information.” Contrary to this assertion by the USCIS, however, the regulations do not actually require students engaged in the initial 12-month period of OPT to report such changes.
During the initial period of OPT, a student is required by regulation to notify the USCIS and DSO within 10 days of any legal changes to the student’s name or address. Per policy guidance issued by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), “Students are encouraged to report changes in employment to their DSO as soon as possible. SEVP recommends that students report changes within 10 business days of the change…” Neither the regulations nor ICE, however, have ever claimed that such reporting was mandatory.
There are additional reporting requirements for F-1 students working based on a STEM OPT extension, which includes having to notify the DSO of loss or change of employment within 10 days. This requirement does not extend to the initial OPT period.
Students and DSOs Have Ability to Update Employer Information
Regardless of whether this reporting is a legal requirement, the student typically should submit this information to avoid potential immigration troubles in the future. The student may update this information through the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) portal. Or, the student may notify the DSO, who in turn is responsible for updating the information directly in SEVIS.
During the initial 12-month period of OPT, the student may have no more than a total of 90 days of unemployment. An additional 60 days of maximum unemployment time is granted for an F-1 student granted a STEM OPT extension. If a foreign national working based on OPT exceeds the unemployment limit, this typically would be considered a status violation.
In the past few years, there have been numerous attempts to frame substantive rule changes as mere “reminders.” Regardless of whether this provision is enforceable, however, F-1 students should generally strive to promptly notify the school’s DSO of any employment changes.
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