F-1 STEM OPT Not Sponsored by Washington University

Employees working on OPT or STEM OPT should contact their F-1 program sponsor, (i.e., their international student advisors at the school which issued their I-20) with any questions about maintaining status.

Students holding F-1 status that is sponsored by Washington University should go to the STEM OPT Sponsored by Washington University page for information.

STEM Optional Practical Training Extension

F-1 students holding degrees in approved Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) fields may be eligible for an OPT extension of 24-months. To qualify for the STEM OPT extension, an F-1 student must:

  1. be working in a period of post-completion OPT
  2. must hold a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree in an eligible STEM field,
  3. be working for an E-verify registered employer,

Students may apply no more than 90 days prior to the end date of the initial OPT period. The application must be received by USCIS before the end date of the initial OPT period. F-1 students are eligible to work up to 180 days beyond the initial OPT end date, while the STEM OPT application is being adjudicated by USCIS. While the extension application is the student’s responsibility, there are requirements for both the employer and the student.

Information about eligibility for the extension can be found online at https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/students-determining-stem-opt-extension-eligibility

Information on both student and employer responsibilities can be found at https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/stem-opt-hub

E-Verify

One requirement of working on STEM OPT is that the student must work for an E-Verify employer. E-Verify is an Internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States.

Employees working at WUSTL on OPT who are in STEM fields are eligible to apply for the 24-month extension of OPT, since WUSTL is an E-Verify employer. To obtain the E-Verify number for the university, please contact the Office of Human Resources.
On the Medical Campus, contact Stella Elder.
On the Danforth Campus, contact Georgiann Kegel.

I-983 Training Plan

To initiate the application, students must complete an I-983 Training Plan with their supervisor and submit to their sponsoring institution’s Designated School Official (i.e., the person who signed the I-20). In addition, send a copy to the OISS.

The formal training plan must clearly articulate the STEM OPT student’s learning objectives and affirm the employer’s commitment to helping the student achieve those objectives.

Instructions on completing the I-983 can be found online https://www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Document/2016/i983Instructions.pdf.

An overview of the I-983 can be found on Study in the Status at https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/form-i-983-overview.

Student Reporting Requirements

In order to maintain their legal F-1 status, a STEM OPT student must regularly check in with their DSO throughout the duration of the extension to confirm Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) information and report changes made to the student’s training plan.

A general overview of the responsibilities follow, but more information can be found online at https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/students-stem-opt-reporting-requirements.

Report Changes to Address and Employment Information

Any change to SEVIS information listed below must be reported within 10 days of a change.

  • Legal name
  • Residential or mailing address
  • Employer name and address
  • Status of current employment, including loss of employment

In addition, student employees should make sure to keep the Washington University Human Resources system (HRMS) up to date with current address, phone number and email. Questions about how to access this system should be directed to the hiring department’s payroll representative (the person with whom you completed your I-9.)

Confirm Address and Employment Information Every Six Months

Every six months a student must work with their DSO to confirm that the student’s record in SEVIS accurately reflects their current circumstance – even if nothing has changed. This means an update is required at the 6-month, 12-month and 18-month mark of the 24-month employment. As part of this every six-month reporting, STEM OPT employees must confirm that their SEVIS information correctly identifies their:

  • Legal name
  • Residential or mailing address
  • Employer name and address
  • Status of current employment, including loss of employment

Updating the I-983

Students must report to their DSO any material changes to the formal training plan.
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.
  • 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.

Copies of updated/amended I-983s must also be sent to the OISS.

Annual Self-Evaluation

Each STEM OPT student must submit to their DSO an annual self-evaluation about the progress of the training experience. Employees and their employers must sign the student’s self-evaluation before the student submits it to the DSO, who will include it in the student’s record. In addition, copies of these evaluations must be sent to the OISS.

For more information about the annual self-evaluation, please visit https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/students-and-the-form-i-983.

Unemployment

STEM OPT employees must report the termination of their practical training experience within 10 days of the event. Any termination or voluntary resignation of a position at WUSTL must be reported immediately to OISS.

Employer Noncompliance

If a STEM OPT student believes that their 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 their DSO, the student 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 this Homeland Security Investigations tip submission form.