STEM Optional Practical Training
STEM Optional Practical Training (STEM OPT) is an additional 24 months off-campus work benefit of F-1 visa holders. Students who are on a period of approved twelve month post-completion OPT, with a STEM qualifying degree, may apply for this extension. Below in the STEM OPT Application Instructions you can find a list of all USF STEM eligible degrees.
STEM OPT - Application
You can apply for STEM OPT no earlier than 90 days before your twelve month OPT EAD card end date, but your application has to be received by USCIS before your EAD end date. It will take USCIS three to four months to process your application so ISSS recommends applying early. Use the documents below to assist you in preparing your application. Once it is complete you can bring it to the ISSS office or submit it through our online form.
STEM OPT - Employment Reporting
If you have applied and been approved for STEM OPT you will need to take the following steps to update your employment and address information.
First update your information in the SEVP Portal:
- Log into the SEVP Portal and review the information.
- View and update your personal address where you are currently living.
- View your employer information to make sure it is correct. You can only view it, you cannot edit it when you are on STEM OPT. To update your employer, follow the steps below.
Use the ISSS Online STEM OPT Reporting Form to report the following required information:
- 6 Month Employment Report – report your address and employer information and address 6 months from your STEM OPT start date.
- 12 Month Employment Report – report your address and employer information 12 months from your STEM OPT start date. Attach your STEM 12 Month Evaluation from the I-983. (See page 5 of the ICE Form I-983, Evaluation on Student Progress).
- 18 Month Employment Report – report your address and employer information 18 months from your STEM OPT start date.
- 24 Month Employment Report – report your address and employer information 24 months from your STEM OPT start date. Attach your STEM 24 Month Evaluation from the I-983. (See page 5 of the ICE Form I-983, Final Evaluation on Student Progress).
- New Employer Report – Report a new employer and attach a new ICE Form I-983 training plan completed with the new employer.
- End of Employment Report – Report when you stop working with an employer and attach a final evaluation with this report. (See page 5 of the ICE Form I-983, Final Evaluation on Student Progress).
TIPS FOR ALL STUDENT USING THE SEVP PORTAL
Follow these tips for accessing the SEVP Portal account and setting or resetting your password. What you see in the SEVP Portal is what is there. You don’t need to verify that it was reported once you update the SEVP Portal and see your correct information.
- Look in your USF email account for the SEVP Portal email from firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Be sure to enter your SEVIS ID exactly as it is written on your Form I-20: ie. N00XXXXXXXX.
- Some students have reported issues with password creation, so we’ve been instructed to have students use a password that contains a string of special character/number/letter like this: @2b@2b@2b@2b.
- Use the SEVP Portal password reset option if you forget your password or get locked out.
- Be sure to double-check the email address you are using to login. You need to use your USF email account but DO NOT include the “dons”. For example, do not use “email@example.com”, and instead use “firstname.lastname@example.org”.
- After creating your initial account be sure to bookmark the link so you can access it easily in the future.
The Department of Homeland Security is now tracking days of unemployment within SEVIS and they will begin terminating records for students who have exceeded the limits on unemployment. Students on STEM OPT have an additional 60 days of unemployment for a total of 150 days (90 on OPT and 60 on STEM OPT). Please take the necessary steps to report your employment right away. Failure to report your employment may result in the termination of your F-1 immigration record by the Department of Homeland Security.
STEM OPT - Travel
While your STEM OPT is pending, we advise to travel before your current 12 months OPT EAD card end date with STEM OPT application receipt, along with other documents that you would travel with while you are on OPT.
For travel once your STEM OPT is approved, you will need the following:
- Valid passport
- Valid F-1 visa
- STEM OPT EAD card
- STEM OPT I-20 with travel signature endorsement singed in the past six months on second page
- Employer letter