USCIS Issues STEM OPT EAD Clarification

August 20, 2018

On August 17, 2018, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updated its Optional Practical Training Extension for STEM Students website page.

The update clarifies the reporting responsibilities for employers and foreign national students participating in the STEM OPT program. Employers and students are required to report material changes to the student’s training program to his/her Designated School Official (DSO). To report these changes, students and employers should submit an updated Form I-983 with the DSO in accordance with the required timeframes. 

For example, an employer must report a STEM OPT student’s termination – or departure – to the DSO within 5 business days. Similarly, students will need to report important employment changes to his/her DSO within 10 business days.

Further Clarification

The update also clarifies that STEM OPT students may be trained somewhere other than the employer’s primary place of business. However, all the legally required training obligations must continue to be met. This includes the employer establishing and maintaining a bona fide employer-employee relationship with the student. 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to examine whether a student is in a bona fide employee-employer relationship on a case-by-case basis. DHS will also verify the employer signing the Training Plan is the same organization employing the student and providing practical training experience. 

Envoy is pleased to provide you this information, which was prepared in collaboration with Managing Partner Sara E. Herbek at Global Immigration Associates, P.C. (, Envoy’s affiliated law firm. 

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