STEM OPT Employment Options

STEM OPT Employment Conditions

  • Employment must be compensated (cannot be unpaid).
  • Employment must be a minimum of 20 hours per week.
  • Employment must be directly related to your STEM field of study.
  • Multiple employers are permitted but all employers must be enrolled in E-Verify and complete a form I-983 Training Plan
  • Limitation on Unemployment for the STEM OPT Extension. Students approved for the 24-month STEM OPT extension may not accrue more than a total of 150 days of unemployment throughout their entire 36 months on OPT. You need to submit a STEM OPT update and report your employment to OISS in order to stop the unemployment counting in SEVIS. Time spent outside the United States, if not employed by a U.S. employer, is counted towards the 150-day period of unemployment. To count as “employed” a student should be able to provide evidence, acquired from the student’s employer, to verify that they worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of reported employment.
    Unemployment Caution: SEVIS records will automatically terminate for students who have no employment reported for 150 days. Be sure that you have made alternate plans and communicated them to OISS before your record is terminated. If you have any concerns, you can always contact your OISS adviser.

Keep Records of your Employment

Keep records of your employment history for your personal file, to present as evidence of maintaining lawful status should you apply for future immigration benefits.

Examples of Records to Keep:

  • I-983 forms
  • offer letters
  • contracts
  • payroll stubs
  • letters describing volunteer activity and hours