USCIS Strengthens Regulations for Students in F and M Visa Categories

USCIS Refines Policies for F and M Visa International Students, Providing Clarity on Eligibility, Transfers, and Employment

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has revised its policy manual governing international students in F and M status, aiming to offer clearer guidance on key aspects such as eligibility requirements, school transfers, and employment opportunities. The move is geared towards providing comprehensive direction for both international students and US educational institutions. According to a statement from Jackson Lewis P.C., a US-based law firm, two updates in the policy manual stand out as particularly advantageous for students and the companies engaging them for Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Extended OPT for STEM Students

Students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields are now eligible for an additional two years of Optional Practical Training (OPT), extending the total post-study work experience to three years. The guidance addresses concerns about STEM OPT extensions for start-up companies, clarifying that meeting specific conditions allows start-ups to qualify. The policy emphasizes that being a start-up does not automatically disqualify a company from supporting STEM OPT extensions.

Green Card Application and Student Status

The policy provides clarification that students in F and M status, obligated to maintain a foreign residence, can still be beneficiaries of PERM labor certifications or an immigrant visa petition. Initiating a green card application does not automatically jeopardize student status. However, individual cases will be assessed by consular and Custom Border Protection (CBP) officers to ensure compliance with foreign residence requirements. These clarifications, especially regarding STEM OPT extensions and concurrent green card applications, contribute to a more transparent understanding of the intricate landscape surrounding the stay of international students in the US. USCIS aims to simplify the process for both students and educational institutions, providing a clear framework for navigating post-study work options and potential immigration pathways.


Source: MSN