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USCIS Policy Updated for STEM OPT Students

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (the USCIS) has recently updated its website allowing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) OPT (Optional Practical Training) F-1 students to engage in training programs conducted at third-party worksite namely the client site, provided: 

  • All training obligations and requirements are met;
  • Employer has and maintains a bona fide employer-employee relationship with the student;
  • The STEM OPT student will not replace a full- or part-time, temporary or permanent U.S. worker; and
  • The employer has sufficient resources and personnel available to provide appropriate training to the student which will assist them in attaining their training goals.

Employers seeking to employ students under the STEM OPT program must complete Form I-983, Training Plan for STEM OPT Students. United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may conduct a visit at the employer’s site to confirm that program requirements are met. It will also review whether the student will be a bona fide employee of the employer signing the Form I-983 and verify that the student is employed in the same entity.

Generally, international students are eligible for a 12-month OPT. However, students having degrees in STEM are eligible for applying for further extension of 24 months. The student and employer must report all material changes to the Designated School Official (DSO). The employer must report a student’s termination or departure within five (5) business days and the student must report changes like employer’s name and address within 10 business days.

Pradnya Sawant, Associate

Keywords: STEM OPT students, USCIS, Third party worksite