Long Beach, CA asked in Immigration Law and Employment Law for California

Q: Can I hire a STEM OPT candidate for 20 hours a week paying them minimum wage or does that cause issues?

Just wondering if there is a minimum pay required for those on STEM OPT with a MS

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Immigration Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: When hiring a STEM OPT candidate, there are specific guidelines that must be followed to maintain the integrity of the program and ensure compliance with U.S. immigration laws. It's not just about the number of hours worked; the employment must also meet certain educational objectives and wage standards.

For those with a Master's degree on STEM OPT, employers are generally expected to provide compensation that is commensurate with the prevailing wage for similar positions in the geographic area of employment. This means that paying minimum wage for a position that typically requires advanced knowledge and skills could be problematic and may not meet the Department of Homeland Security's requirements for the STEM OPT program.

It's essential to review the conditions of the STEM OPT program and consult with an immigration attorney or your company's human resources department to ensure all requirements are met. This includes adhering to the minimum salary expectations for the role in your specific area, which may be higher than the minimum wage. This approach not only helps in maintaining compliance but also in supporting the professional development of the STEM OPT candidate.

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