Yes, you must enroll in E-Verify, sign an E-Verify memorandum of understanding (MOU), and participate in E-Verify in order to employ F-1 students seeking an extension of their optional practical training (OPT) under the STEM-designated degree program. F-1 students who participate in an approved period of post-completion OPT after earning a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from the list of designated STEM degrees may apply for this extension of their OPT.
Universities seeking to hire F-1 students who are applying for the STEM OPT extension should enroll in E-Verify either as the university as a whole or as separate departments. If the university as a whole enrolls in E-Verify, the F-1 STEM OPT students may work in any qualifying STEM departments in the university. If the university departments are separately enrolled in E-Verify then only those university departments that have a signed E-Verify MOU qualify as E-Verify employers and F-1 STEM OPT students may only work for those departments.
Employment agencies and consulting firms that wish to employ F-1 OPT students who seek the extension must be enrolled in E-Verify. Third parties contracting with the agency or firm for which the student is providing services need not be enrolled.
Yes, any employer who wishes to employ a student with a 24-month STEM OPT extension must develop a formal training plan that clearly identifies the STEM OPT student’s learning objectives and the employer’s commitment to help the student achieve those goals. The student and his or her prospective employer must work together to complete this form. Please visit the Training Plan section at the STEM OPT Hub on DHS’ Study in the States website for an overview of this requirement for employers and STEM OPT students.
Employers should create a case for an F-1 student as they would for any other employee. As long as the employee and employer have completed the Form I-9 with acceptable documentation, the employer will have all the necessary information to create a case in E-Verify.
No, if an institution of higher education is both a federal contractor and wishes to employ F-1 STEM OPT extension students, it must:
- Continue to verify new hires and existing employees assigned to the federal contract as required by the federal contractor rule; and
- Enroll the hiring site or location where the F-1 STEM OPT employee will work in E-Verify, and verify all new hires at that site or location, whether or not the F-1 STEM OPT employee or other employees at that site or location are assigned to the federal contract.
Alternatively, the university could enroll as an E-Verify employer and verify all new hires throughout the university including new hires assigned to the federal contract.
As long as the student has an Employment Authorization Document (Form I-766) issued by USCIS, the student may work for the duration of the card’s validity period while a correction is in progress.
If there is one central department that signs an MOU, completes Forms I-9 and creates E-Verify cases for all of the university’s new hires, then the entire university is an E-Verify employer. If separate departments of the university (for example, a physics research lab within the university), each sign an MOU, complete Forms I-9 and create E-Verify cases separately for their new hires, then each such department or research lab would be a separate E-Verify employer. In the case of the physics research lab, F-1 OPT STEM students may only be employed by the lab that has signed an MOU with E-Verify those students may not work in any other department or lab within the university.
No, every employer who wishes to employ F-1 students with STEM OPT extensions must be enrolled in and in good standing with E-Verify. Each employer must enroll the hiring site or location where the F-1 STEM OPT employee will work in E-Verify, and verify all new hires at each site, including the F-1 STEM OPT student, if he or she is a new hire.
No, you may only create an E-Verify case for an employee who will receive payment or anything of monetary value, known as remuneration, and has completed Form I-9. Whether or not an intern is a paid employee is based on whether the intern receives payment or remuneration, such as free or reduced housing costs or meals. Check with your legal counsel or human resources professional to determine whether your intern should be considered a paid employee.
Employers may release their E-Verify company ID numbers. F-1 students applying for a STEM OPT extension must provide their employer’s E-Verify company ID number or valid E-Verify client company ID number on their Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, in order to be granted the STEM OPT extension. If you choose not to disclose the number, the student cannot complete the application and will not be able to work for you.
A company that uses an E-Verify employer agent does not have a company ID number, but rather, receives a client company ID number from its employer agent. Provide your E-Verify client company ID number to the F-1 student applying for the STEM OPT extension.