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USCIS News : STEM OPT Employment Permitted at Third Party Worksite. What’s the Catch ?

Earlier this year, there were some changes to the USCIS website that said STEM OPT Workers cannot work at third party worksites. There was conflicting information on USCIS website vs. ICE website on this topic and some DSOs were not issuing I20s for students with third party worksite option.  With the recent F1 Visa Unlawful Presence Memo by USCIS , students on STEM OPT were worried regarding working at third party worksite as they could accrue unlawful presence…Let’s look at what has changed and what is permitted for STEM OPT offsite employment.

Background – Before the Change – STEM OPT  Third party worksite requirements  :
USCIS website had the below exact two paragraphs, before they changed it last week. In short, the previous text tells that someone on STEM OPT cannot fulfil training requirements by working at third party worksite or client location and have remote arrangement. Also, it clearly tells that student’s practical training experience must be provided by employer’s own trained supervisor at the employer’s location.  You can check the exact  USCIS STEM OPT archived copy

USCIS STEM OPT Training Requirements Before ChangeUSCIS Stem OPT Requirements work at Same Location Before Change

New USCIS Update on STEM OPT Working at Third party worksite or Client Location
The original paragraphs that are in above screenshot were removed/ modified and modified to reflect as in below screenshots. Pay close attention to the highlighted text.  In short the summary is below :

  • Employers must maintain bona fide employer-employee relationship with the student during STEM OPT employment and training.
  • Employer must have enough resources to train the student on STEM OPT and it has to be done by the employer’s personnel and NOT end client’s or customer personnel
  • Students may engage in employment on STEM OPT in third party worksite or offsite as long as the bona fide employer-employee relationship is maintained and training is done by the employer’s personnel and NOT customer/ end client’s personnel.
  • Check actual updated info at USCIS STEM OPT Employment

USCIS STEM OPT Changes to Third Party worksite After Change
USCIS STEM OPT Change after Third Party worksite change

Next question : What is this bona fide employer-employee relationship ? How to establish ?
In fact, this is not something new, it has been there for quite some time since H1B FY 2011 season. You can check below articles that covered the same in the past from FY 2011 : H1B Neufeld Memo – Employer – Employee Relationship . Below are the set of questions that USCIS typically looks at to check for Right to control to make sure bona fide employer – employee relationship exists. This screenshot is taken from the Original Neufeld Memo from USCIS .
Employer Employee Relationship Set of Questions USCIS Bona fide relationship

USCIS also provided full guidance on the same and we have covered the same in the past on how to establish employer employee relationship. You can read article at : USCIS Guideline to establish Employer Employee Relationship

What do you think of this change ?  Will it help students ?


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  1. I currently have STEM OPT with a staffing company and about to extend this fall. I work in 3rd party site obviously. Idk how to prove my employer overseers and supervises me, but the company says there will be no problem. FYI, I’m in the process of green card with the company. What do you think? Should I stop the process and look for another full time job?

    • Well, there are some things that used to be fine in the past, but with new regulations, things are not as smooth with violations. USCIS has given guidance on how employer can prove that and it is not something new, the above article talks about it. You can speak to your employer’s attorney and get it clarified on how they will handle it. Well, it is up to you, you need to look at how your employer is supporting you and what is correct part in that and how it can impact your future and then make an informed decision.

    • What all documents do we need to prove bona fide relationship when working at client site?

      I got an RFE to submit those. Please assist me.


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