To maintain legal F-1 status during the STEM OPT period, you must regularly report information to ISSS throughout the duration of the extension so that ISSS is able to validate your record in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) and report any changes made to your training plan.
Be sure to review the Employment Authorization Forms and Resources.
Validating SEVIS Information
Every six months you must confirm with ISSS that your record in SEVIS accurately reflects your current circumstance. Make a note on your calendar to ensure that you complete the updates every six months. This information can be submitted via the STEM OPT verification form found on the Forms page.
As part of this six-month reporting, you must confirm the following information with ISSS:
- Legal name;
- Residential or mailing address;
- Employer name and address; and
- Status of current employment.
In addition to the 6-month reporting requirement, you must report any change in the above-listed information, including any loss of employment, within 10 days of the change. Failure to report such changes could be considered a violation of your F-1 status and may result in termination of your STEM OPT.
You must submit to ISSS an annual self-evaluation about the progress of the training experience using the I-983 form. This should be filled out and signed by you and your employer and sent to ISSS via the Document Submission Form which can be found, along with all other forms and materials, on our Forms page.
You and your employer(s) must sign the self-evaluation before you submit it to ISSS. For more information about the annual self-evaluation, please visit the Study in the States webpage: Students and the Form I-983.
The following information is meant solely to provide students on STEM OPT with general information regarding 6-month reporting requirements, deadlines, and how to notify ISSS. Note that all some reporting responsibilities may not be listed.
Remember that any change to your address and/or employer information must be reported to ISSS within 10 days throughout your STEM OPT period. To notify ISSS of these changes, please submit the Address Update Form or the New Employment Update Form found on the Forms section of the website. If you change employers or have material changes to an existing I-983 (see more information below), a new I-983 must also be completed and submitted to ISSS.
SEVIS record validation
F-1 Students on the STEM OPT Extension benefit get email reminders from SEVIS about their reporting requirements starting at 30 days prior to each of the 6-month reporting periods. These emails inform the student to contact their Principle Designated School Official (PDSO) or Designated School Officials (DSOs) to have the records validated in SEVIS.
ISSS will not validate the record based on emails from the students. Students must submit reports as instructed below in order for ISSS to validate SEVIS records for F-1 Students on the STEM OPT Extension benefit. Please note that ISSS legally has 21 days from the date reports are submitted to ISSS to validate the records in SEVIS. Students will continue to receive the reminder emails until the records are validated in SEVIS. If you follow the below instructions to report for each period, you will receive an automatic email confirmation generated by the submission. Please do not email ISSS multiple times regarding your submission as that delays the ISSS validation process.
STEM OPT Reporting Requirement Instructions
Your 6-month, 12-month, 18-month and 24-month reporting periods are based on the dates listed on your STEM OPT EAC document. Below is how to report to ISSS. We recommend that you put reminders in your calendar to report on those dates as ISSS may not send reminders.
All forms and resources can be found on the Forms portion of our website.
- Submit the ISSS STEM OPT Validation form
- 12-months/1-year midterm:
- Submit the ISSS STEM OPT Validation form with inclusion of I-983 page 5 12-month self-evaluation
- Submit the ISSS STEM OPT Validation form
- 24-months/2-year final:
- Submit the ISSS STEM OPT Validation form with inclusion of I-983 page 5 final self-evaluation
You must always report on those dates even if there is no change or even if you changed just a couple of weeks before.
To report any changes in employment, you must report them to ISSS. ISSS must update your SEVIS record. You will not be able to do that via the SEVIS portal. Please follow the below instructions:
To end a position (even if with the same company):
- Submit an End of Employment form. Please note, you will need to submit a final self-evaluation (page 5 of the I-983 form) with this End of Employment form.
- Ask your employer to send an email to email@example.com informing ISSS that you have ended or will end employment with them as pursuant to the Employer Reporting requirements.
- They should put “STEM OPT Extension Employer Report” in the subject line and provide us your name and the day you end or will end your employment.
- This should be done within 5 days of your employment ending
Beginning a new position (even if with the same company):
- Submit a New Employment Update form. Please note, you will be required to submit a new I-983 form with the New Employment Update form.
- Provide to your employer the Employer Reporting Requirement URL.
To report material changes in your current employment:
- Complete a Form I-983 with the changes and submit via the Document Submission Form.
- See below for an explanation of what are considered material changes to employment.
Material Changes to an Existing Form I-983 Training Plan
You must report to ISSS any material changes to, or material deviations from, the formal training plan. This requires the submission to ISSS of an updated Form I-983 via the Document Submission Form found of the Forms page.
Material changes or deviations from the original Form I-983 may include, but are not limited to:
- Any change of the employer’s Employer Identification Number (EIN).
- 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.
So long as you and your employer meet the regulatory requirements and the modified Form I-983 meets the specified requirements, your employment authorization will not cease based on a change to the plan.
For further reference, below is the specific Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) governing this:
8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(ii)(C)(9)(ii) If any material change to or deviation from the training plan described in the Form I- 983 or successor form occurs, the student and employer must sign a modified Form I-983 or successor form reflecting the material change(s) or deviation(s). Material changes and deviations relating to training may include, but are not limited to, any change of Employer Identification Number resulting from a corporate restructuring, any reduction in compensation from the amount previously submitted on the Form I-983 or successor form 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 any decrease in hours worked below the minimum hours for the 24-month extension as described in paragraph (f)(10)(ii)(C)(8) of this section. Material changes and deviations also include any change or deviation that renders an employer attestation inaccurate, or renders inaccurate the information in the Form I-983 or successor form on the nature, purpose, oversight, or assessment of the student’s practical training opportunity. The student and employer must ensure that the modified Form I-983 or successor form is submitted to the student’s DSO at the earliest available opportunity.
Restrictions Regarding OPT Employment
You must work at least 20 hours per week for an E-Verify employer in a position directly related to your STEM degree. There is no limit on the maximum number of hours you may work and you may work for multiple employers as long as each employer is registered with E-Verify and an I-983 is submitted for each employer with ISSS. Employment can be paid or unpaid.
Loss of Employment/ Unemployment
You must report the termination of your practical training experience within 10 days of the event to ISSS at firstname.lastname@example.org with “Last Name, First Name – Termination of Employment” in the subject line.
Students approved for STEM OPT may not accrue an aggregate of more than 150 days of unemployment during their entire 36-month OPT period (i.e., during the initial period of post-completion OPT plus the 24-month extension).
Changing or Adding Employers
When you change or add employers, the new employer must be enrolled in E-Verify before you begin to work for pay. You must also submit a new Form I-983 to ISSS within 10 days of starting the new practical training opportunity.
When you begin a new practical training opportunity with a new employer less than 10 days after leaving your prior employer, you may fulfill all reporting obligations (loss of employment and new training plan) by submitting a new Form I-983.
In cases where the period of time between employers is longer than 10 days, you must first report the loss of employment to ISSS and later submit a new Form I-983.
Please submit all Forms I-983 to ISSS via the Document Submission Form.
If you believe that your STEM OPT employer is not complying with the terms and conditions of the 24-month STEM OPT extension regulations, the Form I-983 instructions, and the completed Form I-983 on file with ISSS, you may:
- Contact the Student and Exchange Visitor Program at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by following the instructions found on ICE.gov.
- Report violations through the Homeland Security Investigations tip submission form.
There are a number of enforcement and oversight mechanisms to help ensure compliance, including but not limited to reporting requirements, employer site visits, periodic evaluation of a student’s training, and required notification of any material changes to or deviations from the Training Plan.
Please note that if you believe that your employer is not complying with the 24-month STEM OPT extension regulations and Form I-983 instructions, you should leave that practical training opportunity and report your unemployment to ISSS. A period of student unemployment, caused by an employer’s failure to comply with program requirements, on its own will not affect the STEM OPT student’s status so long as the student reports changes in employment status and adheres to the overall unemployment limits.