STEM Optional Practical Training (STEM OPT)

 

In order to be eligible for the 24-month extension benefit, international students must:

  1. already be on a valid OPT, based on a STEM-eligible degree

  2. have had fewer than ninety (90) days of unemployment while on their originally approved 12-month OPT

  3. be employed by, or have a job offer from, an employer who is registered in the E-verify employment verification system. E-verify is a database operated by DHS in partnership with the Social Security Administration. It allows participating employers to electronically verify the eligibility of newly hired employees.​​

 

Travel While on 24-month STEM OPT Extension


During the 24-month extension, you must carry the following documents in order to return to the U.S.:

  • STEM OPT Employment Authorization (EAD) card

  • STEM OPT Form I-20 with a valid travel signature (valid for six (6) months) and the most updated STEM information on it. If you dont have it, you can request it here.

  • Valid F-1 entry visa stamp on passport issued by US Consulate abroad, to enter the U.S. in F-1 status for STEM OPT

  • Valid passport

  • Letter from your employer confirming your STEM OPT employment

If you are missing any one of these documents, you risk being denied entry to the United States. If your current OPT EAD card is expired and you do not yet have the STEM OPT Extension EAD card, you should NOT travel outside the U.S.




Periods of Unemployment while on 24-month STEM OPT Extension


During the 24-month STEM OPT Extension, maintenance of your F-1 status depends on your employment. You are not permitted to accumulate more than a total of one hundred fifty (150) days of unemployment for the entire period of OPT (including the first 12 months of OPT prior to the STEM OPT Extension). The limits of unemployment time are ninety (90) days for the first 12-months of OPT and sixty (60) days during the 24-month STEM OPT extension. Accumulating more than one hundred fifty (150) days of unemployment during the OPT period is a violation of your immigration status that could result in termination of your practical training.




Qualified Employment while on 24-month STEM OPT Extension


  • Paid employment, full or part-time for one or more employers, contracting activity, employment through an agency or through a consulting firm, as long as all employers are registered with E-Verify and the employment is at least 20 hours/week (variable schedule, within a month, must average out to at least 20 hours/week)
  • Employment in a position directly related to the student’s STEM degree on which the STEM OPT is based and/or earned at CalUMS-VA
  • Valid Form I-983 completed for each employer and position




Alumnus/ae Responsibilities While on Authorized STEM OPT


After a student is granted the 24-month STEM OPT Extension, he/she must report to the ISO within ten (10) days any change in:

  • Alumni/ae’s legal name, residential or mailing address, email address and phone number
  • Employer name, address or employer contact phone number
  • Supervisor’s name and contact information (phone, email address)
  • Dates of employment (beginning and ending dates) at each employer
  • Verification of how the job is related to the degree/field of study
  • Loss of employment within five (5) business days
Be advised that your F-1 record may be terminated for failure to submit these required updates on time.




Student Self-Evaluation Required Every Twelve (12) Months


During the 24-month STEM OPT extension, you are required by law to send a Self-Evaluation Report on the Form I-983 to the ISO every twelve (12) months starting from the date the 24-month extension begins and ending when the student’s F-1 status is completed or the 24- month extension ends, whichever is first.

Annual Self-Evaluation #1: Complete page 5 of the Form I-983 (top section)

Annual Self-Evaluation #2: Complete page 5 of the Form I-983 (bottom section)


Additional concluding evaluations (page 5 of the I-983) must be submitted each time you complete a training opportunity, no matter how long the position lasted.

Use this online form to submit the Annual STEM Evaluation report.

Please note that STEM OPT students must report a change in this information, including any loss of employment, within 10 days of the change.

Be advised that your F-1 record may be terminated for failure to submit these required updates on time.




Validation Report Required Every Six (6) Months


During the 24-month STEM OPT extension, you are required by law to submit a Validation Report to the ISO at dso@calumsva.edu every six (6) months starting from the date the 24-month extension begins and ending when the student’s F-1 status is completed or the 24-month extension ends, whichever is first.

The Validation Report must include the student’s:

  • Legal name

  • Residential or mailing address

  • Employer name and address

  • Status of current employment

This Validation Report is required even if there have been no changes in your employer, living address, or other required reporting information.

Use this online form to complete the 6-Month STEM Validation report

Students should complete the Validation Report no more than 15 days before and no later than 10 days after it is due.

Be advised that your F-1 record may be terminated for failure to submit these required updates on time.




Request 24-month STEM OPT Extension Employment Update


Within ten (10) days of change, you are required by law to report a change of STEM employer or any material changes to an existing form I-983 to the ISO. Changing STEM Employer Any changes of employment during your STEM OPT period, such as ending a current job and/or starting a new job, must be reported to us using our 24-Month STEM OPT Extension Employment Update Request form. Material Changes to an Existing Form I-983 We have a 24-Month STEM OPT Extension Employment Update Request form if you are working for the same employer but need to make changes to your I-983 form. Material changes or deviations from the original Form I-983 may include, but are not limited to:

  • Any change in the 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.
Be advised that your F-1 record may be terminated for failure to submit these required updates on time.





What You Need to Know about STEM OPT Extension 

 

 

NOTE: The requirement to report any updates while on OPT continues if the student’s 24-month STEM OPT Extension is extended further by the automatic Cap-Gap extension.

 

Please visit USCIS STEM and SEVP STEM OPT websites for more detailed information regarding the STEM OPT Extension process.

 

Feel free to contact us at dso@calumsva.edu if you have any questions.

 

For more information please refer to SEVP website.

Travel While on 24-month STEM OPT Extension


During the 24-month extension, you must carry the following documents in order to return to the U.S.:

  • STEM OPT Employment Authorization (EAD) card

  • STEM OPT Form I-20 with a valid travel signature (valid for six (6) months) and the most updated STEM information on it. If you dont have it, you can request it here.

  • Valid F-1 entry visa stamp on passport issued by US Consulate abroad, to enter the U.S. in F-1 status for STEM OPT

  • Valid passport

  • Letter from your employer confirming your STEM OPT employment

If you are missing any one of these documents, you risk being denied entry to the United States. If your current OPT EAD card is expired and you do not yet have the STEM OPT Extension EAD card, you should NOT travel outside the U.S.




Periods of Unemployment while on 24-month STEM OPT Extension


During the 24-month STEM OPT Extension, maintenance of your F-1 status depends on your employment. You are not permitted to accumulate more than a total of one hundred fifty (150) days of unemployment for the entire period of OPT (including the first 12 months of OPT prior to the STEM OPT Extension). The limits of unemployment time are ninety (90) days for the first 12-months of OPT and sixty (60) days during the 24-month STEM OPT extension. Accumulating more than one hundred fifty (150) days of unemployment during the OPT period is a violation of your immigration status that could result in termination of your practical training.




Qualified Employment while on 24-month STEM OPT Extension


  • Paid employment, full or part-time for one or more employers, contracting activity, employment through an agency or through a consulting firm, as long as all employers are registered with E-Verify and the employment is at least 20 hours/week (variable schedule, within a month, must average out to at least 20 hours/week)
  • Employment in a position directly related to the student’s STEM degree on which the STEM OPT is based and/or earned at CalUMS-VA
  • Valid Form I-983 completed for each employer and position




Alumnus/ae Responsibilities While on Authorized STEM OPT


After a student is granted the 24-month STEM OPT Extension, he/she must report to the ISO within ten (10) days any change in:

  • Alumni/ae’s legal name, residential or mailing address, email address and phone number
  • Employer name, address or employer contact phone number
  • Supervisor’s name and contact information (phone, email address)
  • Dates of employment (beginning and ending dates) at each employer
  • Verification of how the job is related to the degree/field of study
  • Loss of employment within five (5) business days
Be advised that your F-1 record may be terminated for failure to submit these required updates on time.




Student Self-Evaluation Required Every Twelve (12) Months


During the 24-month STEM OPT extension, you are required by law to send a Self-Evaluation Report on the Form I-983 to the ISO every twelve (12) months starting from the date the 24-month extension begins and ending when the student’s F-1 status is completed or the 24- month extension ends, whichever is first.

Annual Self-Evaluation #1: Complete page 5 of the Form I-983 (top section)

Annual Self-Evaluation #2: Complete page 5 of the Form I-983 (bottom section)


Additional concluding evaluations (page 5 of the I-983) must be submitted each time you complete a training opportunity, no matter how long the position lasted.

Use this online form to submit the Annual STEM Evaluation report.

Please note that STEM OPT students must report a change in this information, including any loss of employment, within 10 days of the change.

Be advised that your F-1 record may be terminated for failure to submit these required updates on time.




Validation Report Required Every Six (6) Months


During the 24-month STEM OPT extension, you are required by law to submit a Validation Report to the ISO at dso@calumsva.edu every six (6) months starting from the date the 24-month extension begins and ending when the student’s F-1 status is completed or the 24-month extension ends, whichever is first.

The Validation Report must include the student’s:

  • Legal name

  • Residential or mailing address

  • Employer name and address

  • Status of current employment

This Validation Report is required even if there have been no changes in your employer, living address, or other required reporting information.

Use this online form to complete the 6-Month STEM Validation report

Students should complete the Validation Report no more than 15 days before and no later than 10 days after it is due.

Be advised that your F-1 record may be terminated for failure to submit these required updates on time.




Request 24-month STEM OPT Extension Employment Update


Within ten (10) days of change, you are required by law to report a change of STEM employer or any material changes to an existing form I-983 to the ISO. Changing STEM Employer Any changes of employment during your STEM OPT period, such as ending a current job and/or starting a new job, must be reported to us using our 24-Month STEM OPT Extension Employment Update Request form. Material Changes to an Existing Form I-983 We have a 24-Month STEM OPT Extension Employment Update Request form if you are working for the same employer but need to make changes to your I-983 form. Material changes or deviations from the original Form I-983 may include, but are not limited to:

  • Any change in the 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.
Be advised that your F-1 record may be terminated for failure to submit these required updates on time.





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Tel: 703.663.8088    Fax: 703.663.8090

E-mail: info@calumsva.edu

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