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Form I-983 Guidance

Stakeholders request more guidance about the responsibilities designated school officials (DSOs) have in reviewing and approving of the Form I-983, “Training Plan for STEM OPT Students.” 

Specifically, they want more clarification from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program about whether DSOs have the responsibility to evaluate the quality of a student’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) optional practical training (OPT) training opportunity when evaluating the form.

Government Response

When the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published its final rule on the STEM OPT extension in March 2016, Study in the States launched the STEM OPT Hub to help school officials, F-1 STEM students and interested employers understand the new regulation.

On the STEM OPT Hub, DSOs can find an entire section dedicated to explaining the new Form I-983, “Training Plan for STEM OPT Students.” The hub also includes information specifically for DSOs explaining their reporting requirements and guidance for recommending STEM OPT. These resources specifically explain that DSOs:

  • Are required to review students’ Form I-983 for completeness. This means that DSOs must ensure all questions on the form are answered and that the form is signed by the potential STEM OPT employer and the student.
  • Are not required to conduct additional outside research into an employer prior to making a STEM OPT recommendation.
  • Are not expected to possess technical knowledge of STEM fields of study.

In April 2016, a month before the rule was set to go into effect, SEVP hosted the SEVP Special Report: STEM OPT Webinar. During the webinar SEVP representatives explained the STEM OPT regulation and answered stakeholder questions regarding the new requirements, including the Form I-983.

In October 2016, SEVP held an SEVP Ask the Experts Webinar that focused exclusively on the Form I-983 life cycle and the specific responsibilities held by students, DSOs and employers. During the webinar, SEVP representatives responded to live questions from DSOs regarding their role in reviewing and approving the Form I-983.

SEVP also added several new resources to the SEVIS Help Hub when the rule went into effect to further assist DSOs in capturing the technical requirements. DSOs can find many of the applicable resources in the SEVIS Release 6.26 Planning Guide, including:

SEVP will continue to evaluate the need to communicate on topics related to the regulatory requirements of the STEM OPT extension and the DSO’s role in it.

The timeline below illustrates the steps taken to communicate SEVP's progress to date. 
March 2016

DHS publishes final STEM OPT extension rule and Study in the States launches the STEM OPT Hub to provide guidance for stakeholders about the new federal regulation

April 2016

SEVP holds an SEVP Special Report Webinar: STEM OPT to review the new regulatory requirements and address stakeholder questions

May 2016

The STEM OPT rule goes into effect and SEVP adds the SEVIS Release 6.26 Planning Guide to the SEVIS Help Hub

October 2016

SEVP holds an SEVP Ask the Experts Webinar: Form I-983 to address stakeholder questions related to form completion, submission and responsibilities