ICE foreign students immigration compliance checks planned

ICE foreign students immigration compliance checks planned

It has been revealed that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers of US may soon visit workplaces to question certain foreign students for immigration compliance.

International students and company managers who are on Optional Practical Training (OPT) programmes in various fields such as science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) will be questioned.

This follows reports earlier this week that the Trump administration announced the “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds”.

OPT is a period during which undergraduate and graduate students with F-1 visa status who have completed or been studying their degree for at least one academic year are permitted to work for one year on a student visa towards getting practical training to complete their education.

In 2016, the Department for Homeland Security published a rule which would allow certain F-1 students with STEM degrees to apply for a 24-month extension to their OPT, allowing up to 36 months.

Officers to visit workplaces for ICE foreign students compliance check

These regulations were included in 2016, however the agency hasn’t carried out any such checks until now. It is incredibly likely that they will knock on the doors of companies who hire foreign students to work in the US for compliance checks.

The aim of this move is said to be limiting the legal immigration for skilled workers with a technical background who are permitted to work an extra year in the US.

The ICE foreign students visits may include individual interviews with company personal and testing the skillset of the student find out whether it matches the programme or not. The may also check the payroll to find out whether the OPT worker is earning in line with the US workers.

If the student’s work situation is found to be non-compliant, then the OPT worker may lose the student visa and consequently gain the inability to apply for another type of visa to enter the US. Analysts worry that these inspections may scare the international students who choose the US as a destination for OPT.

In 2018, a total of 362,929 F-1 visas were issued to individuals travelling to the USA to study academic or language programmes. This is a continuation of the decline of the past four years.

These are just further measures that may see a reduction in application of international students to the US.

Photo: Blake Guidry

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