F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)

What is OPT?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an employment benefit for which international students on F-1 visas are eligible. It enables a student to work for any employer in the United States as long as the work is related to their studies. Most take advantage of this benefit after they complete their degree. All students are eligible for one year of OPT.

UMB is not the immigration sponsor of employees on OPT, unless they earned their degree at UMB. F-1 students on OPT remain under the immigration sponsorship of the university where they earned their degree while on OPT.

Individuals who have this work authorization will present an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card for their I-9.

What is STEM OPT?

Students who earn at least a bachelor’s degree in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) fields are eligible for an extension of OPT. Under new regulations effective May 10, 2016, students are eligible for a 24-month extension, totaling three years of OPT work authorization. 

Individuals that have this work authorization will present an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card for their I-9. Individuals also may present their expired/expiring EAD card AND their I-20 reflecting a recommendation for the STEM extension, if their STEM OPT extension is still pending with USCIS. Employment is authorized beginning on the expiration date of the EAD card and ending on the date of USCIS' written decision on the pending extension application, but not to exceed 180 days.

What is the STEM OPT process?

If an employee approaches you for assistance with the extension application, follow the below steps.

  1. Request a fillable copy of Form I-983 Training Plan from the International Office — we have pre-populated some fields to make this easier for you.
  2. Fully complete and sign Form I-983 Training Plan with the student. Check out the resources below for assistance.
  3. Fill out the University record-keeping web form.

Employer Role

The employer (i.e., supervisor or supervisor's designee) has the following roles in relation to STEM OPT:

  • Submits completed form I-983 Training Plan to OIS using the web form.
  • Monitors any material changes to the terms and conditions of employment AND accordingly adjusts the I-983 Training Plan and sends the new training plan to the OIS.
  • Reports termination of employment to OIS.

What are material changes?

  • Change in Employer Identification Number
  • Any reduction in compensation
  • Any change in hours worked per week
  • Any change that renders the previous form I-983 Training Plan inaccurate