F-1 students obtain the Form I-983 online before they apply to participate in a STEM OPT extension. The STEM OPT student and their prospective employer must work together to complete this form prior to the student applying for the STEM OPT extension.
Once completed and signed by both the STEM OPT student and their prospective employer, the student must submit the form to their DSO before the DSO may recommend a STEM OPT extension in the student’s SEVIS record. The DSO’s approval of a request for a STEM OPT extension means that the DSO determined that the Form I-983 is complete and signed and addresses all program requirements. DSOs may not recommend a student for a STEM OPT extension if:
- The employer has not provided the required attestations.
- The completed Form I-983 does not otherwise reflect compliance with the relevant reporting, evaluation and other requirements of the STEM OPT extension.
Please note, the DSO at the student’s school of most recent enrollment remains responsible for providing SEVP with access to the relevant information described in the Form I-983 upon request from the student (even if the student intends to request an extension based on a previously obtained STEM degree from another SEVP-certified school). DSOs are also required to keep all versions of the Form I-983, even if the versions are no longer in use by the student and employer and must keep the final version that contains the concluding evaluation for three years following completion of the student’s STEM OPT extension. Please visit the DSO reporting requirements page for more information.
- DSO Role with Form I-983
The DSO must review the student’s submitted Form I-983 to ensure that it is completed, signed and addresses all program requirements.
The DSO is also responsible for keeping the Form I-983, “Training Plan for STEM OPT Students” and self-evaluations in the student’s record. The student must submit the first assessment within 12 months of the STEM OPT start date, and a second, final assessment that recaps the training and knowledge acquired during the complete training period.
The student must submit the 12-month and final evaluations no later than 10 days following the conclusion of the appropriate reporting period. If an opportunity ends early the student must submit the final evaluation within 10 days following the conclusion of the opportunity. Not submitting a final evaluation would be a violation of the terms of the Form I-983 and may jeopardize the student’s nonimmigrant status.
The DSO may retain all evaluations in either electronic or hard copy, and these documents must be accessible within 30 days of submission to the DSO.
- Determining Completeness of the Form I-983
DSOs are not required to conduct additional outside research into a particular employer prior to making a STEM OPT recommendation, nor are DSOs expected to possess technical knowledge of STEM fields of study.
When reviewing the Form I-983 for completeness, the DSO should confirm that the training plan:
- Explains how the training is directly related to the student’s qualifying STEM degree.
- Identifies goals for the STEM practical training opportunity, including specific knowledge, skills or techniques that will be imparted to the student and explains how those goals will be achieved through the work-based learning opportunity with the employer.
- Describes a performance evaluation process.
- Describes methods of oversight and supervision.
The DSO should also ensure that all form fields are properly completed. So long as the Form I-983 meets these requirements, the DSO has met their obligation and may recommend a student for the STEM OPT extension. In making such a recommendation, DSOs should use their knowledge and familiarity of the F-1 regulations, including the new STEM OPT extension requirements.
- Material Changes to Existing Training Plans
It is not the DSO’s responsibility to be proactive with material changes. It is the student’s responsibility to provide changes in information to their DSO, and failure to do so would constitute a violation of the student’s F-1 status.
If there are material changes to or deviations from the Form I-983 the DSO has on file during the STEM OPT extension period, the student and employer must sign a modified training plan reflecting the material changes. The student (or employer) must file the modified Form I-983 with the DSO at the earliest available opportunity.
Reporting material changes to the training plan keeps students and employers accountable to the original Form I-983 and ensures that the DSO and DHS have access to accurate information about STEM OPT students. For more information about what constitutes a material change, visit the Form I-983 Overview.