Form I-983 Training Plan for STEM OPT Students20 Jun 2016
Under the revised STEM optional practical training (OPT) regulations, which went into effect on May 10, 2016, one of the new requirements to qualify is the completion of a training plan (I-983 form). A university’s designated school official (DSO) cannot make the required recommendation for a STEM OPT extension unless the employer and student jointly complete such a training plan.
Student and Employer Share in Completion of Training Plan
Although students and employers complete the training plan together, completion of certain sections are solely the responsibility of either the student or the employer. Other sections are completed jointly.
Both the student and the employer must attest that the employment opportunity is directly related to the STEM degree that qualifies the student for the OPT extension. They must also confirm under oath that any material changes to the training plan will be shared with the DSO at the earliest available opportunity. Some examples of material changes include corporate restructuring, changes in the amount of hours the student works, or a reduction in the student’s compensation. Employers must also attest that the student will be supervised and trained, consistent with the plan, by an individual on site, and that the employer has resources in place to perform such training.
Protection of U.S. Labor Market
There are also attestations intended as protections for the U.S. labor market. The employer must affirm that no U.S. worker is being displaced by employing the STEM OPT student. The employer must also confirm that the terms and conditions of the student’s employment will be commensurate with those of similarly situated U.S. workers.
The training plan requires two student progress evaluations; one must be completed at the end of the first 12 months of training, and the other must be completed at the end of the 24 months of the program. For both evaluations, the employer is responsible for reviewing the student’s written self-assessment and signing off on it if in agreement. Students have ten days from the 12-month and 24-month marks to submit these evaluations to the DSO.
Roles of the DSO, SEVP, USCIS, and the DHS
The DSO is required to maintain the training plan for three years and make it available to Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) personnel upon request. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may request a copy of the training plan in support of a student’s application for employment authorization. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may also conduct site visits of the employer to ensure program compliance, including the employer’s capacity to provide structured and guided work-based learning experiences consistent with the Plan.
The Murthy Law Firm is working with both employers and students, helping to set up the I-983 training plan for STEM OPT extensions and to ensure compliance with legal requirements. Stakeholders with questions about the training plan requirement may schedule a consultation with a Murthy Law Firm attorney.