Student Responsibilities on STEM OPT
You have additional federal reporting requirements during the STEM OPT period. Failure to satisfy these requirements is a violation of your F-1 status. It may result in your STEM OPT being terminated by DHS and may negatively impact your ability to obtain future immigration benefits. Students may learn more about these requirements below, or by watching the HIO's STEM OPT Reporting and Compliance Video.
These reporting requirements include:
6 Month Reporting Requirements
While on STEM OPT, you and your employer have mandatory reporting requirements. Failure to comply with the STEM OPT rules and reporting requirements will constitute a status violation. Such violations will have negative consequences for your current F-1 immigration status, and will result in delays and denials of future immigration benefits. During the STEM OPT period, you must confirm your STEM employer information with the HIO every 6 months (even if it remains the same). Additionally, you must complete a midpoint and final I-983 form evaluation with your employer(s). We recommend that you use the STEM OPT Reporting Worksheet or the chart below to schedule reminders to submit the STEM OPT reporting requirements in your personal or work calendar.
|Reporting Timeline After STEM EAD Start Date, reporting DUE by:||HIO Reporting Requirement||I-983 Evaluation|
|6 Months||Online HIO STEM OPT Reporting Form||NONE|
|12 Months||Online HIO STEM OPT Reporting Form||Midpoint Evaluation on student progress (page 5 of I-983)|
|18 Months||Online HIO STEM OPT Reporting Form||NONE|
|24 Months||Online HIO STEM OPT Reporting Form||Final Evaluation on student progress (page 5 of I-983)|
Reporting Change of Address
If your personal U.S. address has changed, you must report this change to the HIO within 10 days of the move.
Reporting Changes to Job Duties or Information on I-983
Students must report any material changes or updates to the information on the I-983 (i.e. employer’s address, change of EIN, reduction of hours, decrease in salary, title change, job duties, supervisor, *company mergers/acquisitions, etc.).
|Documents Required||Submission Deadline to the HIO|
|New I-983 signed by student & Employer to HIO via the STEM OPT Reporting Form||Within 10 days of change|
*If your company merges with or is acquired by another company, you should submit a Final Evaluation (page 5 of I-983) signed by you and your former employer, a new I-983 signed by you and your new employer via the STEM OPT Reporting Form so the HIO can issue you an updated I-20.
Reporting a Change of Employment or Adding a New Employer
It is possible to change employers during the STEM OPT extension if the employer meets the required criteria described on the STEM OPT Employment Types page. Your new employer must be enrolled in E-Verify before you begin to work, and you must continue to work in a position related to the STEM program major listed under “Program of Study” on the I-20.
Change in Employment for Students with Approved STEM OPT
Students with a STEM extension cannot begin new employment without first following the applicable steps below:
Submit a request via our STEM OPT Reporting Form by choosing “My STEM OPT has been approved and I am reporting a change of employer.”
Within this form upload the final evaluation of the former STEM employer and the new I-983 for the new employment.
If you are ending employment and do not yet have a new STEM employer, you must submit the STEM OPT Reporting Form within 10 days of ending the employment. Choose the report type “Ending STEM OPT employment with an employer and submitting a final evaluation prior to your 24-month period on STEM” to complete this reporting requirement.
The new I-983 must be confirmed by the HIO as being complete and meeting all STEM program requirements before you can begin the new STEM employment. We will issue you a new STEM OPT I-20 with the new employer information on page 2 and send it to you via secure email to the email you indicate in the STEM OPT Reporting Form.
|Type of Employment Change||Documents Required||Submission Deadline to the HIO|
|Ending a Position||Final Evaluation (page 5 of I-983) signed by student and former employer||Within 10 days of change|
|Starting a new position||New I-983 and details via STEM OPT Reporting Form||Prior to beginning new job|
Change in Employment for Students with Pending STEM OPT Applications
If a student changes their employer while their STEM OPT application is pending, they submit these changes via the HIO’s STEM OPT Reporting Form before they engage in their new STEM employment. Depending on whether the student is still in their valid Post-OPT period or if they have started their STEM OPT period, there are slightly different processes.
If your Post-Completion OPT is still valid (i.e. your Post OPT EAD’s end date is still in the future), you must:
Submit the Post Completion OPT Reporting Form so that we can update your employment information in SEVIS.
Submit your new I-983 and new employment details via the HIO’s STEM OPT Reporting Form. Choose “My STEM OPT extension application is pending with US Citizenship & Immigration Services and I am reporting my change of employer.” Within this form you will be able to upload the new I-983 for the new employment.
If your Post-Completion OPT period is invalid and you have started your STEM period while your STEM application is pending, you must submit the following via the STEM OPT Reporting Form:
Choose “My STEM OPT extension application is pending with US Citizenship & Immigration Services and I am reporting my change of employer.” Within this form you will be able to do the following:
Upload the Final Evaluation of the former STEM employer (Page 5 of I-983) *The end date listed on the final evaluation will be the end date entered into SEVIS*;
Provide required details about your new STEM employer;
Upload the new I-983 for the new employment.
The new I-983 and details must be confirmed by the HIO as being complete and meeting all STEM program requirements before you can begin the new STEM employment.
Once the materials are reviewed and approved by an HIO advisor, you will be issued a new I-20 with the updated employer information. If your STEM application is still pending with USCIS, the HIO will send the USCIS Potomac Service Center a copy of the updated I-20 so that they may continue processing your STEM application.
Travel on STEM OPT
For information on traveling while on STEM OPT, or while waiting for your STEM OPT approval, please see Travel on OPT, STEM OPT, and Academic Training.
Ending STEM Extension, Departing the U.S., and Changes of Status
While on STEM OPT, you continue to hold F-1 status sponsored by Harvard and your F-1 record remains active in the government database SEVIS. It is extremely important that you notify your HIO advisor via email of any changes to your immigration status:
- If you leave the U.S. permanently before your 24-month STEM period ends, you must notify the HIO via the STEM OPT Reporting Form AFTER you depart the U.S. permanently. To report this change, you will need to:
- Choose “I am no longer participating in STEM OPT and need to end my F-1 status” and then choose “I have decided to leave the U.S. permanently before my STEM EAD expires AND have decided not to use my remaining STEM OPT” within the STEM OPT Reporting Form.
- You must also submit a completed final evaluation from page 5 of the I-983 within 10 days of ending the employment to the HIO via the STEM OPT Reporting Form. You can upload the final evaluation while you are reporting that you would like your F-1 status to end, but if you are reporting the end of your employment sooner than when you depart the U.S., choose the report type “Ending STEM OPT employment with an employer and submitting a final evaluation prior to your 24-month period on STEM.” to complete this reporting requirement.
- If you change to another visa status in the U.S. or via travel and reentry to the U.S., such as H-1B, E-3, G-4, TN, etc. or obtain Lawful Permanent Resident status (become a green card holder), you must notify the HIO by reporting this change via the STEM OPT Reporting Form. To report this change, you will need to choose “I am no longer participating in STEM OPT and need to end my F-1 status” within the STEM OPT Reporting Form and then choose “I have changed to another visa status in the U.S. (such as H-1B, E-3, G-4, TN, etc.) or have become a Lawful Permanent Resident (green card holder)” within the STEM OPT Reporting Form. The form will ask you to upload evidence of your new status (e.g. new I-94 arrival/departure record, new visa stamp, and I-797, or green card). You will also need to upload a completed final evaluation from page 5 of the I-983 within 10 days of changing your status.
The HIO provides general guidance on your OPT/STEM OPT application based on information obtained from reliable sources and reflecting our years of experience in working with students. We make every attempt to ensure that we provide you with the most up to date information available. Any advice provided to you by our office (as well as the information in this packet) does not constitute legal advice, however. The OPT/STEM OPT application is a personal application for which you are responsible; the application preparation and USCIS case decision will vary depending on the facts at issue in your particular case. The HIO does its best to provide you with the most current guidance, but please be mindful that USCIS may change its interpretation of these policies, procedures, regulations, and eligibility requirements at any time. The HIO is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from USCIS.