Once your application for the 24-Month STEM OPT is approved, USCIS will issue you an EAD. Submit a scanned copy of your EAD card to the International Center using our M-Passport portal.
The 24-Month STEM OPT period represents a continuation of your current F-1 status. You must stop your employment when the end date on the EAD card is reached, but may remain in the US for a 60-day grace period. Some students may be eligible for an extension of OPT and F-1 status due to the Cap Gap Relief rules.
You are expected to be employed in your field of study during the 24-Month STEM OPT. The maximum period of unemployment days is 150 days, which includes any days of unemployment during the initial 12 months of Post-Completion OPT. For example, if a student finishes the 12 months Post-Completion OPT with 30 days of unemployment time accrued, then he or she would have 120 days of available unemployment days remaining during their period of STEM OPT.
To avoid collecting unemployment days during an authorized STEM OPT, a student must work at least 20 hours per week for an E-Verify employer in a position directly related to his or her DHS-approved STEM CIP. Here are additional details about STEM OPT employment requirements:
- In order to receive the STEM OPT extension, a student must pursue their practical training through an employer that is enrolled in USCIS' E-Verify employment eligibility verification program.
- Additionally, STEM OPT extension applicants must select employers that can guarantee the student will complete a minimum of 20 hours of work per week and provide the student with formal training and learning objectives.
- The student must work with their potential STEM OPT extension employer to complete the Form I-983, which must include how the training opportunity has a direct relationship to the student’s qualifying STEM degree. Visit the Form I-983 page to learn how to properly complete and submit the Form I-983.
- F-1 students cannot qualify for STEM OPT extensions unless they will be bona fide employees of the employer signing the Form I-983 because F-1 students may not provide the employer attestation (i.e., signatures) on their own behalf. However, they may use a start-up business so long as all regulatory requirements are met. The employer that signs the Form I-983 must be the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience.
- Please note that a student’s post-completion OPT employer does not need to be the same as the student’s STEM OPT extension employer.
At all times while on STEM OPT, please remember you must continue to update Wolverine Access with your Current U.S. address and phone number(s). The F-1 regulations mandate any change of address must be reported within 10 days of any change.
If you have not already done so, please submit a scanned copy of your STEM OPT EAD card via M-Passport. Log in to the M-Passport portal, click on Requests > OPT - Submit EAD Card, and follow the instructions from there.
Any changes of employment during your STEM OPT period, such as ending a current job and/or starting a new job, must be reported to us via M-Passport. Please log in to the M-Passport portal, and click on Requests. You could submit the OPT - Report End of Employment request and/or the OPT - Report Add New Employment request.
MATERIAL CHANGES TO AN EXISTING FORM I-983
If you are working for the same employer but need to make changes to your I-983 form, please log in to the M-Passport portal, click on Requests > OPT - Update Previously Reported Employment Details, and follow the instructions from there. Material changes or deviations from the original Form I-983 may include, but are not limited to:
- Any change of the employer’s EIN.
- Any reduction in student compensation that is not tied to a reduction in hours worked.
- Any significant decrease in hours per week that a student engages in a STEM training opportunity.
- Changes to the employer’s commitments or student’s learning objectives as documented on the Form I-983.
24-Month STEM OPT Reporting: Date-Specific Requirements
F-1 STEM OPT students are required to complete STEM employment reporting tasks after 6, 12, 18, and 24 months of STEM OPT have elapsed.
To calculate how many months of STEM OPT have elapsed, please refer to the “Valid From” date printed on your STEM OPT EAD card. Do not refer to your Post-Completion OPT EAD card for this.
For example, if your STEM EAD card is valid from 01/01/2018 to 12/31/2019, then you will be required to complete STEM employment reporting tasks on 07/01/2018 (6 months elapsed), 01/01/2019 (12 months elapsed), 07/01/2019 (18 months elapsed), and 12/31/2019 (24 months elapsed).
To report 6-Month STEM Validation and Annual Progress Evaluation:
- Log in to the M-Passport portal.
- Click on Requests > OPT - Submit STEM Validation Report and Progress Evaluation.
- Follow the instructions from there.
STUDY IN THE STATES: STEM OPT HUB
For more information about STEM OPT Reporting Requirements, please refer to the US Department of Homeland Security’s website Study in the States, STEM OPT Hub.
If you decide to abandon your OPT before the end date of your EAD and leave the U.S., you must notify the International Center so we can end your SEVIS record. Please log in to the M-Passport portal, click on Requests > Departure Form, and submit the request telling us that you have decided to abandon your OPT and the date you plan to depart the United States. We will end your SEVIS record effective the date you indicate you plan to leave the U.S. or the date you notify us, whichever is later. If you do not notify us, you may continue to be billed for health insurance.
Starting a New Program — at U-M or at Another Institution
During the period you are authorized for OPT, you may decide to apply to another academic program, either at U-M or another University. Once you are admitted to another degree program, it is important to discuss the situation with an advisor at the International Center, as the issuance of a new I-20 will effect/terminate your OPT. Please call the IC to request an appointment (appointments may be in-person or by telephone). If you are admitted to a degree program at another University, the International Center must transfer your I-20 to that institution so they may issue a new I-20 for you.
- Admission to U-M for a new degree program/change of level. Once you have been admitted to a new degree program at U-M, the admissions office will issue a new I-20 to you. The issuance of this new I-20 does not end your OPT immediately. Your EAD is terminated as soon as you enter the U.S. with the new I-20 or you check-in for the new program, whichever is earlier. Either one of these events will activate your SEVIS record for the new degree and deactivate your OPT SEVIS record. This means you must immediately stop employment regardless of the card's appearance of validity if you reenter with your new I-20 or check-in at the IC.
- Transfer to another school in the U.S. in order to begin a new degree program. Authorization for OPT is not transferable. Your authorization for OPT ends on the transfer release date. If you wish to complete OPT, set the release date for a date after the OPT ends. You can set the transfer release date to occur during the 60-day grace period following post-completion OPT (see the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Transfer for F-1 Students (refer to section 6.7)). On your transfer release date, you must stop employment regardless of your EAD card's appearance of validity.
In order to maintain your F-1 status, a new I-20 for change of academic level, new degree program, or transfer must be issued before the end of your 60 day grace period.
Change of Status During STEM OPT
If you change your immigration status (e.g. from F-1 to H-1B, F-2, J-1, etc.) during the period of your STEM OPT your STEM OPT will end on the effective date of the USCIS action notice or your entry to the US in the new status. Any unused STEM OPT time is lost (you cannot have both F-1 STEM OPT and another status at the same time, nor can you return to STEM OPT if your new status ends for any reason).
Please notify the International Center and the Office of the Registrar when you change status.
To update your status with the International Center, email email@example.com with your UMID and a copy of your I-94 showing your new status. Your I-94 may be attached to the bottom of an I-797 Approval Notice or accessed online after entering the US in another status. If you are approved for permanent residency, please submit a copy of your green card instead of an I-94. Remember to submit a Final Evaluation for the end of your STEM OPT in M-Passport within 10 days of your change of status becoming effective.
To update the Registrar's Office, write a letter to the Office of the Registrar asking that your immigration status be officially updated. The letter must include:
- Full name
- Current immigration status
- UMID number
- Specific details regarding your old information and the new, correct information
Submit the letter, copy of your passport, and proof of new status (such as I-94 showing your new status, or green card) to the Office of the Registrar.
Please attach your passport and proof of new status in PDF format. Do not embed the copies in the email message.