Employers 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 students and the International Student and Scholar Services office (ISSS), there are instances where STEM OPT employers must assist in tracking the STEM OPT students and their practical training progress.
Employers are required to fulfill reporting requirements in four specific instances:
Complete and Certify the Form I-983 Training Plan
The STEM OPT employer must work with the student to complete the Form I-983 training plan document and designate an Official with Signatory Authority to certify that information in the document is true and correct. The form is not complete until the employer has signed and certified it in the designated areas.
Specifically, STEM OPT employers are responsible for completing Section 3 to Section 6 on the Form I-983. These sections request specific information about the company and the agreed-upon practical training schedule and compensation, and the formal training plan, respectively. For more information about how to properly complete the form, visit the following web page for Employers and the Form I-983 webpage.
The Official with Signatory Authority must be familiar with the STEM OPT student’s goals and performance and must have the authority to affirm that the statements provided on the Form I-983 are true and correct.
Evaluation of Progress
The STEM OPT employer must review the student’s annual self-evaluation of progress and sign it to attest to its accuracy.
The student must submit to ISSS 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 evaluation must have an applicable date range associated with it, so the relevant timeline for the evaluation is clear. The student must submit the 12-month and final evaluations no later than 10 days following the conclusion of the applicable reporting period.
The Official with Signature Authority from the employer’s Form I-983 must print, sign and enter the date of the signature to show concurrence with the assessment information that the student entered. Once signed, the employer must return the evaluation to the student, who will provide it to ISSS for record keeping.
Material Changes to an Existing Form I-983 Training Plan
Employers must work with the STEM OPT student to report to ISSS any material changes to, or material deviations from, the student’s formal training plan, by completing and signing 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 EIN 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; and
- Changes to the employer’s commitments or student’s learning objectives as documented on the Form I-983.
So long as the STEM OPT student and employer meet the regulatory requirements, and the modified Form I-983 meets the specified requirements, the student’s employment authorization will not cease based on a change to the plan.
Loss of Employment
Both the employer and student must notify ISSS when the student’s employment is terminated for any reason before the end of the authorized extension period. The employer must report such a change in employment to ISSS no later than five business days after the student’s employment terminates or the student has departed.
Employers and students can satisfy this requirement by emailing ISSS that the student was terminated or has otherwise departed, as well as the applicable date of such termination or departure. Please include the full name and date of birth of the student and the SEVIS ID number, if known, by sending an email to email@example.com or by calling (802) 443-5858.
An employer shall consider a student’s departure date as either:
- The date the employer knows the student has left the practical training opportunity OR
- The date after five consecutive business days have elapsed and the student has not reported for their practical training (without the employer’s consent), whichever date is earlier.