ICE Arrests F-1 OPT Students and Threatens to Revoke / Deny Many More OPTs

On October 21, 2020, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that the agency had arrested 15 students in F-1 status with approved optional practical training (OPT), who allegedly committed fraud by reporting employment with “companies that don’t exist.”

In addition, ICE reportedly intends to revoke several hundred approved OPT permits and deny many future STEM OPT extension applications. ICE claims that “[e]very instance of fraud is a job an American worker could have had, and with so many Americans looking for work this crime is even more unacceptable.” It is not clear, however, how nonexistent jobs allegedly reported by the students who were arrested, would deprive American workers of employment opportunities.

DSO’s Role at Universities / Colleges

Based on the existing OPT rules and regulations, a designated school official (DSO) at the university or college is required to recommend the initial year of post-completion OPT to all eligible students regardless of whether they do or do not yet have a job offer. The regulations provide that students must not accumulate 90 days or more of unemployment during the first-year OPT. However, the students are still allowed to look for work as long as they do not exceed the 90-day unemployment limit.

ICE claims that the responsibility of the DSO is to vet all employment opportunities that students receive during the first year and, if it is not the case, the DSO should be terminated. However, it is unclear what legal basis would support or require such an action.


The Murthy Law Firm is following this important news and will share updates as they become available.


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