Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a type of employment that can be used either during the course of study as pre-completion OPT (part time during the academic year or full-time during the summer) or, more commonly, full-time after completing the academic program. Students are eligible for 12 months of OPT per higher degree level. Students may change employers or work for multiple employers during OPT, as long as all employment is directly related to the student’s academic major. Students obtain a recommendation for OPT from their school, but must file with USCIS and cannot begin employment until they are in receipt of the Employment Authorization Document.
Those students who have graduated in an approved Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math (STEM) field and meet other eligibility requirements may apply for a 24 month extension of their post-completion employment (STEM OPT). Under regulations that went into effect on May 10, 2016, students must now complete the Form I-983 training plan with their employer, agree to complete a 12 month and 24 month evaluation of their progress under that training plan, and comply with reporting requirements to their school. In addition, for any change in employer, a new Form I-983 must be submitted to the school within 10 days of beginning that employment.
Employers who wish to support an F-1 student’s STEM OPT extension must also agree to reporting requirements including:
Sivaraman Immigration Law assists employers with specific questions regarding how to complete the Form I-983 and best practices for maintaining compliance with these new reporting obligations.
If you have additional questions, we welcome you to contact an immigration attorney at Sivaraman Immigration Law to request a consultation.