STEM OPT Extension Student

STEM OPT Extension

The STEM OPT extension is a 24-month period of temporary training that is directly related to an F-1 student’s program of study in an approved STEM field and replaces the 17-month STEM OPT extension previously available. The F-1 student will need to confirm with a Designated School Official (DSO) at the home institution regarding STEM OPT extension eligibility.

Students whose 17-month STEM OPT extension expires prior to May 10, 2016, or who have less than 150 days remaining on their 17-month STEM OPT extension EADs as of May 9, 2016 are not eligible for an additional STEM OPT extension.

More information on STEM OPT can be found on the Study in the States Stem OPT Hub. You can learn more about the student’s responsibilities on our website.

STEM OPT Reporting Requirements for Employers

If you employ a student applying for a STEM OPT extension, you play a key role in maintaining and strengthening the integrity of the STEM OPT extension program. Although compliance with the program’s various reporting requirements predominately apply to the F-1 student and the DSO at the home institution, there are instances where you need to assist in tracking the STEM OPT students and their practical training progress.

  • Complete and Certify the Form I-983

    Work with the student to complete the Form I-983, specifically Sections 3 - 6. The form is not complete until the your department has signed and certified it in the designated areas.
  • Evaluation of Student Progress

    The student is responsible for conducting an annual self-evaluation on their own progress, and you need to review this evaluation and sign it to attest to its accuracy. The student must submit the first assessment within 12 months of the OPT STEM start date, and a second, final assessment that recaps the training and knowledge acquired during the complete training period. The student must submit evaluations to the DSO no later than 10 days following the conclusion of the applicable reporting period.
  • Report Material Changes to an Existing Form I-983

    Work with the STEM OPT student to report to the DSO at the student’s home institution any material changes to, or material deviations from, the student’s formal training plan, by filling out a new Form I-983. Material changes or deviations from the original Form I-983 may include, but are not limited to:

    • Any change of Employer Identification Number resulting from a corporate restructuring.
    • Any reduction in student compensation that is not tied to a reduction in hours worked.
    • Any significant decrease in hours per week that a student engages in a STEM training opportunity.
    • Changes to the employer’s commitments or student’s learning objectives as documented on the Form I-983.
  • Report End of Employment

    You and the student must notify the DSO at the home institution when the student’s employment is terminated for any reason before the end of the authorized extension period. Report such a change in employment to the appropriate DSO no later than five business days after the student’s employment terminates or the student has departed employment. You can report the information with an email to the DSO indicating that the student was terminated or has otherwise departed, as well as the applicable date of such termination or departure.

Guidance on Employer Completion of Form I-983

The STEM OPT student will obtain the Form I-983 and is responsible for returning the completed and signed form to their DSO. You are responsible for completing Sections 3 to 6 of the I-983 and must provide a signature on the student’s annual self-evaluation.