Carnegie Mellon University
October 23, 2020

U.S. Investigation Related to OPT

The Office of International Education (OIE) would like to address concerns that may have arisen in response to a Wednesday, Oct. 21 news release, and to provide assurance that we do not anticipate any challenges for CMU students on OPT.

OIE recognizes that the news by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) of an investigation referred to as “Operation OPTical Illusion” may cause heightened anxiety. DHS and ICE are investigating fraud related to OPT and targeting students who have claimed employment with nonexistent companies and/or whose employment is not directly related to their majors; however, OIE does not expect any issues for CMU students currently on OPT maintaining their status.

Maintaining status is done simply by adhering to the following regulations:

  • Students are required to work in a position directly related to their major field of study
  • Students are required to report their employment to OIE
  • In addition to reporting requirements for OPT/STEM OPT, students on 24-month STEM OPT are required to follow added reporting requirements

OIE appreciates that CMU students take immigration regulations seriously and we thank our OPT students and alums for following the appropriate process to ensure legal immigration status. For those who have questions about the announcement or concerns about maintaining their status, an overview of OPT and STEM OPT guidance may be found on the OIE website. Students can also schedule an appointment with an OIE advisor to discuss their situation.

We know that yesterday’s announcement may have caused concern, especially during a time when students are already facing many other challenges between a global pandemic and continual immigration-related policy changes. As a global institution, CMU and OIE are committed to supporting our students, scholars and alums on OPT as we navigate these challenges together.

Best Regards,

Linda Gentile, Director