New California Employers’ Requirements under AB 450: Immigration Worksite Enforcement Actions

California Assembly Bill No. 450 (AB 450) regarding California employers’ obligations when subject to federal immigration worksite enforcement actions was signed by Governor Brown on October 5, 2017, and took effect on January 1, 2018.  As part of a group of immigration-related bills recently signed into law, AB 450 is hailed by advocates as solidifying California’s status as a Sanctuary State.  The law introduces several requirements applicable to public and private employers in California.  How the California Labor Commissioner or California Attorney General will enforce the law is still an open question, given that federal law ordinarily preempts state law in the area of immigration, and because there is uncertainty surrounding which federal immigration enforcement agents must be refused entrance or documents under the new California law.  Below we detail a few of the new requirements for employers:

New regulation on F-1 STEM OPT extensions, effective May 10, 2016

On March 11, 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security published a Final Rule, effective May 10, 2016, 81 Fed. Reg. 13039 (March 11, 2016), that provides requirements and procedures for 24-month extensions to post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) work authorization of foreign nationals who are in F-1 student visa status with U.S. degrees in fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (“STEM” fields). The new regulation also contains transition provisions for approved and pending STEM OPT applications filed under prior regulations. Finally, the new regulation carries over the “cap gap” work authorization and status extension provisions that existed under prior rules.

New regulation on F-1 OPT extensions

On April 8, 2008, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security published an Interim Final Rule, effective immediately, that provides for additional Optional Practical Training (OPT) work authorization for foreign nationals in F-1 student visa status who would otherwise be limited to twelve months of OPT.  The new regulation provides two types of prolonged OPT: (1) an automatic extension of OPT to bridge the “cap gap” between an employee’s OPT expiration date and the October 1st date when an approved cap-subject H-1B petition takes effect; and (2) a seventeen-month extension, upon application, of OPT for graduates of U.S. degree programs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (“STEM” degrees) who have jobs related to their field of study with employers who are enrolled in the government’s E-Verify program.