Employment and Reporting Requirements on STEM OPT
On STEM OPT? The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires students on STEM OPT to meet specific criteria for employment for the duration of the STEM OPT period of time. Students on STEM OPT are required to report any and all changes to employment, address, name, immigration status, etc. using the STEM OPT Reporting Form within 10 days and are also required to complete scheduled reports and evaluations at specific points throughout the extension period.
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Your employment on STEM OPT must meet the following criteria:
- Full-time (at least 20 hrs/week)
- Paid (unpaid or volunteer positions are not permitted for STEM OPT)
- Related to your STEM degree
- Employer is e-verified (self-employment is not permitted for STEM OPT)
- You submitted to OGS a completed and signed Form I-983.
- You have not exceeded the limit for unemployment days. The maximum amount of unemployment time is 150 days (this includes days accrued while on both post-completion and STEM OPT).
For further information on employment requirements, please also see our STEM OPT FAQs. Also remember to keep a written record of any and all STEM OPT activity, including the position held, dates of the position, supervisor name, organization name and location, number of hours you work per week, and description of activity for your own records. You should save all original Forms I-983, including annual evaluations.
No Updated I-983 Needed
Students must report but are not required to submit an updated I-983 for the following changes:
- New personal address within the US
- New personal address outside of the US
New/Updated I-983 Needed
Students must report and are required to submit a new/updated I-983 for the following material changes:
- New employer
- Change in supervisor and/or supervisor contact information
- Employer street address (company/headquarter address)
- Employer site address (physical work location)
- Change to employer’s 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
- Company Acquisition/Merger
Students must also report any changes to name, immigration status, or if student will forfeit the remainder of STEM OPT and will leave the country.
6-Month Report on STEM OPT
DHS requires students on STEM OPT to report to OGS information on their employment every 6 months, even if the employment is the same.
6-Month Reporting Window
6-Month report due date is every 6 month from the STEM OPT start date on your EAD card. The reporting window opens 4 weeks before and ends 4 weeks after the due date. Please note if you submit your report outside the reporting window, OGS will not be able to record your report.
How to Complete the Required 6-Month Report
- 6 months after your STEM OPT start date you must submit the STEM OPT Reporting Form to confirm your company's name and address where the work is performed, even if it is the same.
- 18 months after your STEM OPT start date you must submit the STEM OPT Reporting Form to confirm your company's name and address where the work is performed, even if it is the same.
12- and 24-Month Self Evaluations
How to Complete the Required 12- and 24-Month Evaluations
- 12 months after your STEM OPT start date you must submit the STEM OPT Reporting Form to confirm your company's name and site address where the work is performed, even if it is the same. You must also upload the Evaluation on Student Progress (top portion of page 5 on the Form I-983) completed and signed by you and your employer. Even if you recently started with a new employer before this point, you are still required to submit the annual evaluation.
- 24 months after your STEM OPT start date (that is, at the end of your STEM OPT time period) you must submit the STEM OPT Reporting Form to confirm your company's name and site address where the work is performed, even if it is the same, along with the Final Evaluation on Student Progress (bottom portion of page 5 on the Form I-983) completed and signed by you and your employer. Even if you recently started with a new employer before this point, you are still required to submit the annual evaluation.
The evaluations are due within 10 days of the reporting period. The evaluations must be completed, dated, and signed in ink (no digital signatures) by both you and your employer before submitting it to OGS.
The OGS will process your report within 10 business days after receiving your complete reporting form.
For changes to employment details and personal information
For changes to employment details and personal information, submit your update to the STEM OPT Reporting Form.
The OGS will process your updates within 10 business days after receiving your complete request, and will issue a new STEM extension I-20 the the employment information has been updated.
For changes in your immigration status
For changes in your immigration status, such as changing to H-1B status or departing the US to forfeit any remaining STEM OPT time you may have, please submit your information to our End My F-1 Status Form.
After you submit the OPT Reporting form with your updates, you can choose to request an updated I-20 if you would like, however it is not necessary to get a new I-20 each time employment changes. Your most recent I-20 is still valid. However, if you prefer to have a new I-20 with your updated information, you must complete this online request form to replace your I-20.
US Government SEVP Portal for OPT Reporting
The US government also maintains an online portal for students on post-completion and STEM OPT that allows students to submit some (but not all of the above listed) updates directly to them. As of now, we encourage you to simply submit any updates directly to us in OGS through our reporting forms. Once you submit your information to us, we will update your SEVIS record, and thus update the US government on your changes.
If you have any questions about using the SEVP Portal, including if you get locked out of it, if you forget or need to reset your password, or if you never received the email providing you with instructions on how to create and log into the portal, report your SEVP Portal Issue to us. When contacting us regarding the SEVP Portal, be sure to also attach a copy of your EAD card (employment authorization document) showing your OPT approval information. You may also refer to the US Study in the States SEVIS and SEVP Portal website.
Learn more about how to access the US government’s SEVP Portal
- How to Access the US government online portal, called the SEVP Portal | Student and Exchange Visitor Program Portal
- Get your login credentials. The US government emails all students who have been approved for post-completion or STEM OPT with information on how to create and log into their portal once your OPT application is approved and the start date of your approved OPT time has passed. Be on the lookout for an email from email@example.com. Once you have that email and follow their instructions, you should be able to log into the SEVP Portal.
- Types of Updates with the Portal
- If you choose to update your information directly to the SEVP Portal, the only information you can update with them at this time are changes to your post-completion OPT employer, changes to your physical mailing address, changes in employment address and supervisor. For any changes related to your legal name, email address, changes to your STEM OPT employer that require updated I-983, evaluation, and/or status, you would still need to report those updates directly to OGS through the STEM OPT Reporting Form.
An immediate benefit to students regarding the SEVP Portal is that you can now review the updates we’ve made on your record while on OPT and STEM OPT, including what information we have on file for you regarding your OPT employer and your address. For further information on how to use the SEVP Portal, we recommend you have a look at the Study in the States information on the portal.
Students changing employment with a pending 24-month STEM OPT application at USCIS will need to complete the steps below.
Submit the OGS STEM OPT reporting form to report end of employment and to add a new employment within 10 days of the changes. You will need the following information.
- Receipt number of your pending application with USCIS
- End date of your previous employer (If you end employment after your Post OPT end date, then you need to also submit a final evaluation)
- A completed and signed Form I-983 for the new employment
NOTE: You may be required to submit a final evaluation depending on whether you are ending your employment before or after your Post Completion OPT EAD end date. After reviewing your report, an OGS advisor will contact you if it is needed.
OGS will issue a new STEM extension I-20 with the updated employment info in approximately 10 business days.
Receive the new I-20. Sign the I-20 at the bottom of page 1.