1. Are you actually going to work in your field?
If you are not going to actually work in the field of your STEM degree, you should not even apply for the 24 Months OPT because it will be denied. Also misrepresenting on your I-983 application form or when you apply for your EAD, might have very bad consequences on your career and your ability to get future immigration benefits.
2. Does the employer have the ability to monitor the student as required by the form I-983?
The form I-983 is very precise on the requirements on monitoring and other necessary compliance requirements. The employer, the student and the designated school official (DSO) are all supposed to check on one another. In case one of them miss any of the steps or misrepresent, all the entities might be liable.
3. Are you going to work for a consulting company?
As you know the way the new STEM OPT extension is crafted, working with a consulting company can actually present some challenges. This article best describes how to deal with such challenges. The only question is whether the consulting company is willing to participate? If they do, then the student should make sure they are fully compliant with the other requirements. For those who don't get a participating employer, then we recommend to quickly find another employer.
What are the options if you cannot get STEM OPT?
- Many have asked whether it is better to move back to CPT instead of taking the risk on OPT. Unfortunately the CPT is not a work permit per se, abusing the CPT can have dire consequences in your OPT or even your H1B visa. However, it seems that for many the CPT might actually be a better option. We recommend you call your lawyer before you make the choice.
- If you have the ability to move to H4 EAD, we recommend that you take this choice. Many feel that since they have paid so much for an education, they do not want to lose the STEM OPT but the risk of violating the rules under STEM OPT might be worse than the money lost. Also you might be eligible to claim this OPT based on another degree.