ALERT: Foreign Students on OPT!

Thousands of foreign students received emails from DHS in the last couple days, providing instructions to create their own new SEVIS account.  The emails typically looked like this:


The burden is now on the OPT student to provide details of their employment training to the U.S. Department if Homeland Security. This is done through a new, individual online portal for students  who have been approved for OPT or those ICE calls "prospective" OPT trainees (i.e. applied for OPT but not yet approved).   The link is in the email, and is valid for 31 days, after which one can contact their DSO for a new link.  It's probably a good idea not to wait and risk bureaucratic confusion.

Having said this, compliance with the new requirement was apparently not a problem, at least today.  It seems that shortly after DHS emails reached OPT students, the SEVIS Portal was overcome and experienced an outage.

Here's the official SEVIS Portal Announcement.

“On March 23, 2018, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) will launch the SEVP Portal for F-1 students participating in post-completion optional practical training (OPT) and M-1 students participating in practical training.

The portal will allow these F-1 and M-1 students to report personal and employer information directly to SEVP.”

Step-by-Step SEVIS Portal Instructions can be found at this link, and additional information about your responsibilities can be found at this SEVIS Portal Webinar.

The announcement goes on to state that those not receiving a SEVIS Portal email should make sure their DSO has a current, personal email address on file.  This is true even if you're OPT is not yet approved.  Many students have received portal information even though they've only recently applied for OPT.  See info from the SEVIS Portal site below.  DHS is mailing out a link for portal account creation to prospective OPT trainees as well.

NOTE TO STEM EXTENSION OPT TRAINEES:  You must comply with all the same requirements of creating a portal, and have the same ability to change your address.  However, employer information cannot be changed in a portal whose student is on a STEM extension.  That portion of the portal, and ONLY that portion of the portal it appears, must still be filled out by the DSO through Form I-983, “Training Plan for STEM OPT Students”.


Even though your address is updated in SEVIS, you have an ongoing obligation to update EVERY address to which you live via online form AR-11.  It sometimes confounds me why I must define "where you live" to some people.  I have heard responses such as, "I just use my work address because I'm assigned to different end clients," or "I get mail at a 'friend's' house so that's the address I use," or "I was only there a few months."  So just to clarify, "where you live" means: where you lay your head the night before work or school.  I'm sure USCIS has a legal definition somewhere, and it pains me even as a lawyer sometimes to have to explain this, but I'll provide that too at some point.  In general, if you're assigned somewhere or rest your head at night somewhere new for more than a few days, you MUST go online to file AR-11 so the government knows where you are.


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