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I am an International student from India currently in my F1 STEM OPT Visa (valid till 2021). My company is in the process of applying to H1B Visa (failed to pick the lottery in the first attempt).

My current office and my current home address are in the same state.

Question

My company has an option to work remotely from anywhere in the US (All employees are Americans except me). I always wanted to travel around different cities in the US and work from there for few months and move to different city. The best option for me is to work remote. So is it possible to work remote under my current stem visa?

If not, are there any other options to meet my lifelong goal to travel and work in US?

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This is a tricky situation. The rules regarding remote work and employment at third-party locations changed twice within the last year. Actually you might even have heard in the news about these changes. The latest policy update allows for third party site locations if you maintain a bona-fide employee-employer relationship and the STEM training is provided by your employer (not employer's client). The challenge here is to translate this policy to remote work.

As other OPT policies (such as doing work related to your field of study), this is a gray area. Please read the policy (link below) and decide on your own the risk that you're willing to take. Please keep in mind that, in the eyes of USCIS, the main purpose of the STEAM OPT is to be trained by a US company and get experience before going back to your home country.

https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/students-and-exchange-visitors/students-and-employment/stem-opt

My personal advice is: Since you're in the path to be a LPR, avoid as much as possible gray areas and risky situations. The last thing you want is extra scrutiny in an era that the government is doing is best to curb immigration.

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Yes, you should be able to work "remotely" (I am not aware of anything that would disallow this). You can even be self employed under F1 OPT. Be sure that:

  • You are actually employed with a contract (a max. of 90 days unemployment makes your presence illegal)
  • You have a valid address (NOT a PO Box) that you keep current and always update via USCIS
  • You log into the portal at least every three months (Remark: I do not know if this is actual regulation but my university (Stanford) explicitely says thay this must be done)
  • Whatever work you are doing is related to your field of study (graduation)
  • What portal are you referring to? – Ian Dantas Sep 27 at 16:09
  • The USCIS portal in which you update your address, employer and contact information. You get the login data once your EAD card is approved. – divB Sep 27 at 17:36
  • Gotcha. The portal can be useful indeed to update information, however, it is not a requirement to login every three months. – Ian Dantas Sep 28 at 0:21
  • My form from Stanford university explicitely writes: "[...] You MUST log in at least once every ninety days to keep your portal account active.". Maybe they give extra acutious advice but they seem clear on that. And BTW, in contrast to you I do NOT believe "working abroad" is a tricky situation. The link you provided did not state any requirements for location. – divB Sep 28 at 19:09
  • That must be a Stanford University internal policy. In my old university they don't even want you to use the portal for making updates to your information. In regards to my opinion on being "tricky" please do more research about the subject and, hopefully, you will be able to understand where I'm coming from. Either way, it's advantageous to give the OP different perspectives and he/she can always ask for his DSO/lawyer professional opinion. – Ian Dantas Sep 30 at 14:42

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