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Reminder: 24-month STEM OPT Students Must Receive Compensation

August 18, 2016

F-1 international students participating in a 24-month science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) optional practical training (OPT) extension must receive fair compensation for their training.

Employers must provide STEM OPT students with compensation that is comparable to that of U.S. workers who perform similar duties and have similar educational and professional experiences.

On the Form I-983, “Training Plan for STEM OPT Students,” employers must document information about a student’s compensation, including the dollar amount of any salary or stipend and how often the student is paid. The Form I-983 should also clearly explain the justification for a student’s compensation as it relates to their training and experience.

However, compensation for STEM OPT students is not limited to a traditional salary. Employers may also choose to compensate STEM OPT participants for other costs, including:

  • Housing.
  • Tuition waivers.
  • Transportation.

Please remember that in addition to receiving compensation, STEM OPT students must complete at least 20 hours of training per week.

Do you have questions about STEM OPT compensation or other sections included on the Form I‑983? Watch the Form I-983 tutorial on the STEM OPT Hub to learn more about how to complete the form.

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