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Why STEM OPT is Good for Small Business

DHS took into consideration the potential impact that the STEM OPT extension regulation and Form I-983 instructions could have on small businesses.

This page outlines some of the other possible STEM OPT extension benefits for small businesses.


Hiring STEM OPT students as a small business can provide a number of benefits, including:

  • Enhancing economic, scientific and technological competitiveness through increased research, innovation and knowledge.
  • Creating positive spillover effects as a result of increased productivity by STEM OPT students.
  • Increasing understanding and knowledge of markets in STEM OPT students’ home countries through added cultural diversity and exchange.

Small Business Considerations

To determine what qualifies as a small business, DHS used the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) guidelines on small business size standards applied by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code.

  • Businesses that meet established size standards for types of economic activity, or industry, under NAICS.
  • Not-for-profit organizations that are independently owned and operated and are not dominant in their fields.
  • Governmental jurisdictions with populations of less than 50,000.

Based on SBA’s guidelines, DHS estimates that 18,000 businesses, including more than 500 Student and Exchange Visitor Program-approved and accredited schools, meet the qualifications to be considered “small businesses.”

For more general information about STEM OPT for employers, visit the Employers section of the STEM OPT Hub.

Download SEVP's Training STEM OPT Students presentation for more employer-related compliance information.

Related Tags: STEM OPT

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