This episode of Immigration Law for Tech Startups was recorded before the Trump administration announced a directive on July 6, 2020, that would have required international students on F-1 and M-1 visas to take at least one in-person class in the fall or lose their visa status and be forced to leave the U.S. But even before the administration could finalize the directive, it decided to rescind the measure on July 14, 2020.
A few days after the initial announcement, Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology sued the administration in federal court. The lawsuit asked the court to prevent the administration from enforcing the new directive and declare it unlawful. Nearly 60 colleges and universities, higher education associations, and companies including Adobe, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Spotify, and Twitter, filed friend-of-the-court briefs in the case. Nearly 20 states and the District of Columbia and 20 research universities also sued the administration.
Despite the policy reversal, some universities have reported that U.S. immigration officers have blocked students’ entry to the U.S. to attend universities that are holding online classes. Most new students are already facing delayed visa processing due to the COVID-19 crisis coupled with budget and staffing shortages at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
When sheltering in place due to COVID-19 began in March, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which oversees the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), allowed international students to take a full online course load through the summer semester without facing deportation.
International students are critical to U.S. colleges and universities and the U.S. economy more broadly. International students often pay full tuition at U.S. colleges and universities many of which are facing declining enrollment and funding cuts. International students make up more than 20 percent of the student body at many top U.S. universities. They contributed $41 billion to the U.S. economy and supported or created 458,000 jobs during the 2018-2019 academic year, according to NAFSA.
In this episode, we discuss what you should know about the F-1 student visa and obtaining a work permit for Curricular Practical Training (CPT), Optional Practical Training (OPT), and STEM OPT.
In this episode, you’ll hear about:
- What to expect with the F-1 student visa application process
- What to expect when you enter the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa, such as the F-1, and what that means
- The benefits and limitations of the F-1 visa
- The requirements for CPT, OPT, and STEM OPT
- How your startup can sponsor you for OPT or STEM OPT
- How most tech employers work with OPT and STEM OPT students
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s original announcement about online classes
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s subsequent message on the new directive