Impact of Presidential Executive Order on OPT and H1B Visas

We have been receiving a flood of calls from panicked OPT Students trying to understand the impact of the recent executive order on their status and future prospects. Here are some of the most common questions.

1. Are F1 students on OPT allowed to travel outside the country?
2. Does executive order have any impact on OPT STEM Extensions?
3. Is there an executive order in pipeline that can impact F1 students?
4. What’s the impact of new bills introduced on H1B (to increase minimum salary to 130k)
5. Will STEM OPT will be reduced to 1 year?
6. Are they stopping immigrants at domestic airports?
7. Will there be more scrutiny on OPT extensions? Esp. thru consulting firms
8. Are CPT students impacted by executive order?

We will try to address most of the questions below.

Domestic Travel: All checks are done by Customs and Border Protection agents, who are present only at international terminals. Domestic travel would not involve such inspections, so it should not be an issue.

International Travel: If you are not from one of the seven countries mentioned in the executive order, it should not be an issue. But given the fluid nature of the situation, you should consider delaying non-essential travel, until things become clearer over the next few months. Though there has been no change in Federal policy towards H1B, we have heard reports that H1B employees were subjected to detailed questioning at the airports by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers. In some cases, H-1B visa holders were even denied admission based on perceived violation of their H-1B status or alleging that there’s no evidence of availability of qualified work for them in the U.S.   

Impact on OPT & STEM Extensions: There is no immediate impact on OPT STEM Extensions. If you remember, it took a long time to pass the 24-month extension. Similarly, it will take a lengthy rule-making process or involvement by congress to change the current law. So nothing will change in the next 12 months at least, but there certainly are rumors of potential changes to the OPT rules.

So what is the real impact on OPT, CPT and H1B?

If you refer to some of Trump's comments from the past, his real issue is not with the laws, but with their enforcement. Having spoken to a number of top legal experts, we feel that the future impact will be felt in terms of increased scrutiny and enforcement of the laws pertaining to OPT, CPT and H1B. Until now, all laws were very loosely followed and enforced; expect that to change.

So what should you do? Align yourself with employers who are well-equipped to follow all future immigration changes, and who are already well-established and have been following immigration laws all along. Some employers are blindly signing the I-983 forms. According to the USCIS, to qualify for OPT Extension, you must work for an employer who meets all the requirements listed in the STEM OPT Employer Responsibilities. To qualify, an employer should

  • actually trained you extensively in a classroom based environment
  • have full-time dedicated trainers and mentors that can be mentioned on the I-983, and can prove it if there is a site visit or an RFE
  • have the facilities, resources to show that you spend time at their location before and between client projects
  • have a detailed training plan that is specifically made for each OPT student, and also a corporate training manual
  • have the administrative resources as well as the systems in place to handle all the legal and administrative work, including keeping a documented track of the ongoing supervision, training and mentoring offered as part of the OPT training plan
  • be able to pay to continuously, even between projects, according to a wage schedule that is comparable to similarly situated US worker

Employers that have been playing fast and loose with immigration should expect trouble ahead, and you don't want to be associated with them. This will not only impact your OPT, but also your future chances of H1B and GC. 

At kSquare, we have always been very diligent about immigration, and it is really paying off now. All our OPT STEM extensions have been approved so far, and we have been equally successful with H1B and GC cases as well. 

If you have a specific question related to your case, schedule an appointment with us below.

CONTACT US TODAY to discuss your case in detail. We are actively hiring 12-month OPTs with Computer Science or IT degrees. We will work with you to prepare a training plan tailored to your degree and courses, in compliance with all other STEM Extension requirements while also keeping your future H1B/GC in mind. Use the calendar at the bottom of this post to schedule a phone consultation immediately with one of our experienced recruiters; we have limited openings. 

Schedule a phone consultation to discuss your OPT with one of our experienced staff below