STEM OPT FAQs

USCIS Form I-983 Instructions

USCIS Form I-983 is an employment agreement between you and your employer. OIPS advisors cannot give advice on how to complete this form. You can find step-by-step instructions on how to complete each section of the USCIS Form I-983 on the Study in the States website:

OPT I-20 Request Form Questions?

If you have any questions about the OPT I-20 Request form, contact

OIPS OPT Advising Team
Office of International Programs and Services
Phone: (703) 993-2970
Email: oipsopt@gmu.edu

Question 1: When does my STEM OPT begin?

Your STEM extension begins on the day after your original 12 months of OPT ends.

Question 2: My Bachelor’s Degree was in a STEM Field, but my Master’s Degree is not, can I still apply for STEM OPT?

If you have completed a Bachelor’s Degree in a STEM field at a U.S. Accredited Institution within the past 10 years and have not used your STEM OPT yet, you can use your STEM BS degree as the basis for a STEM Extension if you are working on OPT at the next level, even if your new degree is in a Non-Stem field, as long as the position requires you to use both degrees.

Example: Vinay works as a Technology Manager for a local firm. His bachelor’s degree is in Computer Science (STEM Degree) and his master’s degree is in Management (Non-STEM Degree). He graduated with his bachelor’s degree in May 2012 and his master’s degree in May 2015. Vinay is on his first 12 months of OPT at the Master’s level and is using both degrees to work in his field. His employer is an E-Verify Employer and he is working full time. Vinay is eligible to apply for STEM OPT based upon these circumstances.

Question 3: I previously did STEM Extension after my Master’s degree and now I am finishing my 1 year OPT for my PhD. Am I eligible to apply for another STEM Extension?

A student is eligible to receive a STEM Extension more than once at the next highest degree level.

Example: Student did OPT and STEM OPT at the Bachelor’s Level and then will be eligible for OPT and 1 more STEM OPT at the Master’s level.

Question 4: Can I travel?

It is not recommended, but you may travel now before you receive your new STEM extension EAD card.

If you have to  travel before you receive your new STEM extension EAD card, please be sure your  passport and U.S. Entry visa are current, you have a job offer letter, Your I-797/Receipt Notice, and proof you have not exceed your unemployment days for OPT.

Question 5: If I filed my STEM OPT Application and my new EAD card has not arrived, do I have to quit working?

You can use you I-797C/Receipt Notice to update the I-9 Employment Eligibility Verification with your E-Verify Employer for 180 days while the extension is pending.

Question 6: Can I change employers while my STEM OPT Extension application is pending with USCIS?

We strongly advise that you wait until your STEM OPT Extension is approved to switch employers. However, if you decide to begin your new employment anyway, here is what you need:

  1. File a STEM STEM OPT I-20 Request form and attach the new I-983 Training Plan
  2. Receive the new I-20 and sign.
  3. The DSO can use the updated I-20, I-765 and I-797C/Receipt Notice to send an email to the Potomac Service Center.

Question 7: How will I know when to report my STEM employment?

You are required to report a minimum of every six months (6 months, 12 months, 18 months, 24 months ), you will be notified by email from oipsopt@gmu.edu for the reporting requirements.

To report go to OPT/STEM OPT Employment Update form

Additionally, you must report within 10 days:

  • Change of Employer (a New I-983 for the New Employer and a Final Evaluation from Previous Employer
  • Change of Address, phone number, or email

Question 8: I am on STEM OPT and will be changing employers. How do I report this?

Complete OPT/STEM OPT Employment Update form, attaching the new employer I-983 Training Plan (sections 1-6) and the Final Evaluation (I-983,last page, last box) from the old employer.

Useful Links

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