Ustun Law Group, PLLC

NEWS About Fake University and Student Visa Fraud :

Since the beginning of this year, Immigration and Customs Enforcement have arrested a total of 250 foreign students at a fake university, reports the Detroit Free Press. You can find more about the news here.

In recent months 90 more students have been arrested by the Department of Homeland Security for immigration violations while they were attending a fake university in Detroit. Many of the students have already been deported”.

Various reports say the students who enrolled in this University were already aware of the anomalies, and extremely low tuition fees compared to other educational institutes of the same genre.

What is SEVP and How it is Related to Non-Immigrant Student Status?

Only schools certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) can enroll F or M nonimmigrant students. A school applies for SEVP-certification to enroll F and/or M students by completing the Form I-17, “Petition for Approval of School for Attendance by Nonimmigrant Student,” online using the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and pays all required fees online at Pay.gov

  • SEVIS tracks and monitors nonimmigrant students and exchange visitors
  • If accepted by a SEVP-certified school, foreign students may be admitted to the United States with the appropriate F or M nonimmigrant status.
  • If accepted for participation in a Department of State-verified exchange visitor program, exchange visitors may be admitted to the United States with J nonimmigrant status.
  • Records of these nonimmigrant admissions and continued participation in these educational programs are maintained in SEVIS. Further, SEVIS enables SEVP to assure proper reporting and record-keeping by schools and exchange visitor programs, thereby ensuring data currency and integrity.
  • SEVIS also provides a mechanism for student and exchange visitor status violators to be identified so that appropriate enforcement is taken (i.e., denial of admission, denial of benefits or removal from the United States).

Look for additional info to find out more about the steps after admission to an American University or vocational schools:

https://www.ice.gov/sevis/students

Who are F and M Nonimmigrant Students?

  • The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides for the admission of different classes of nonimmigrants who are foreign nationals seeking temporary admission to the United States
  • The purpose of the nonimmigrant’s intended stay in the United States determines his or her proper nonimmigrant classification
  • Some classifications permit the nonimmigrant’s spouse and qualifying children to accompany the nonimmigrant to the United States or to join the nonimmigrant here
  • To qualify, a child must be unmarried and under the age of 21.
  • F-1 nonimmigrants, as defined in section 101(a)(15)(F) of the INA, are foreign students coming to the United States to pursue a full course of academic study in SEVP-approved schools.
  • F-2 nonimmigrant is a foreign national who is the spouse or qualifying child of an F-1 student
  • M-1 nonimmigrants, as defined in section 101(a)(15)(M) of the INA, are foreign nationals pursuing a full course of study at an SEVP-approved vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution (other than in language training programs) in the United States
  •  M-2 nonimmigrant is a foreign national who is the spouse or qualifying child of an M-1 student.

What is Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study. Eligible students can apply to receive up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization before completing their academic studies (pre-completion) and/or after completing their academic studies (post-completion). However, all periods of pre-completion OPT will be deducted from the available period of post-completion OPT.

Types of OPT

All OPT must be directly related to the major area of study.

An F-1 student may be eligible to participate in OPT in two different ways:

  • Pre-completion OPT:  A student may apply to participate in pre-completion OPT after they have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one full academic year at a college, university, conservatory, or seminary that has been certified by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to enroll F-1 students.
  • A student does not need to have had F-1 status for the one full academic year; if they can satisfy the “one full academic year” requirement even if they had another nonimmigrant status during that time.
  • If they are authorized to participate in pre-completion OPT, they may work part-time (20 hours or less per week) while school is in session. They may work full time when school is not in session.
  • Post-completion OPT:  They may apply to participate in post-completion OPT after completing their studies. If they are authorized for post-completion OPT, they may work part-time (20 hours or less per week) or full time.
  • If the student participated in pre-completion OPT, USCIS will deduct that amount of time from their post-completion OPT authorization period. For example, if the student participated in 10 months of pre-completion OPT, They would be eligible for only up to 2 months of post-completion OPT.
STEM OPT Extension

If the student has earned a degree in certain science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, they may apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion OPT employment authorization if they:

  • Are F-1 students who received a STEM degree included on the STEM Designated Degree Program List  (PDF),
  • Are employed by an employer who is enrolled in and is using E-Verify, and
  • Received an initial grant of post-completion OPT employment authorization based on your STEM degree.

Look into the Optional Practical Training Extension for STEM Students (STEM OPT) page for more information.

Click on the link below to find a complete list of STEM Designated Degree Programs:

STEM Designated Degree Program List 

What is Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

An F-1 nonimmigrant student may begin CPT after the Designated School Official (DSO) has completed the Form I-20 endorsement page. CPT is an alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or other types of required internship or practicum that are offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school. CPT must be an integral part of an established curriculum.

F-1 nonimmigrant students participating in CPT must present the following three documents to establish identity and employment authorization:

  • Unexpired foreign passport
  • Form I-20 with the DSO’s endorsement for employment
  • Form I-94 or Form I-94A indicating F-1 nonimmigrant status

When completing Form I-9 for an F-1 student in CPT, in Section 2 under List A, employers should enter the students:

  • Foreign passport number
  • Form I-94 number, and
  • Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) number and program expiration date from Form I-20
  • As of July 1, 2016, employees who are F-1 students enrolled in curricular practical training (CPT) must present the redesigned Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, issued by ICE to complete Form I-9.
  • Previous versions of Form I-20 containing a bar code are no longer acceptable. Designated school officials began issuing the redesigned Form I-20 to F-1 students enrolled in CPT on June 26, 2015
  • Page 2 of the F-1 student’s Form I-20 must also include employment authorization and employer information, and the employment authorization type must state CPT

Things to Remember About the Difference Between CPT vs OPT

  • CPT and OPT are not interchangeable
  • CPT accommodates individuals enrolled in a program of study that requires participation in an internship or practicum
  • CPT is not a supplemental training experience but rather an “integral part of an established curriculum” meaning it is a required part of the degree or program of study.

The regulation makes this clear by defining CPT as an “internship, cooperative education or any other type of required internship or practicum….” In contrast, OPT accommodates students who have fulfilled the requirements of an academic or vocational program and provides an opportunity to augment the student’s learning with real-world experience.

Work Eligibility While Transferring to a Different School or Beginning Study at Another Educational Level:
  • However, If the student transfer to another school or begin studies at another educational level (for example, the student completed a bachelor’s degree and is starting a master’s program), the authorization to engage in OPT employment will automatically terminate.
  • SEVP will inform USCIS of the termination date, and USCIS will terminate the EAD accordingly. Although your authorization to engage in optional practical training will end, as long as the student complies with all requirements for maintaining their student status, their F-1 status will not be affected by USCIS terminating the EAD.

Maintaining the student status includes not working on a terminated EAD, as the “termination” means that the student is no longer authorized to work in the United States using that OPT EAD. Working in the United States without authorization has serious consequences, including removal from the country and reentry bars. Also, remaining in the United States in violation of lawful nonimmigrant status could lead to an accrual of unlawful presence.

Please see USCIS Changing Policy on Accrued Unlawful Presence by Nonimmigrant Students and Exchange Visitors for more information regarding the termination of your employment authorization under OPT and any impacts on the student status, including the possible accrual of unlawful presence.

Cap-gap Extension for F-1 Students with Approved H-1B Petitions

If you are an F-1 student with a timely filed H-1B petition and change of status request, and your F-1 status and employment authorization will expire before the change of status to H-1B occurs (typically Oct. 1), you may be eligible for a cap-gap extension. Go to our Cap-Gap Extension page for more information. We will post more about Cap-Gap Extension in the future.