Some Questions Answered on I-983 Training Plans for STEM OPT Students28 Nov 2016
Representatives of the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) recently addressed some common questions regarding the completion of the training plan for STEM OPT students (form I-983). A number of important topics were discussed, including the issue of potentially placing an F-1 STEM OPT student at a client site. For more general information regarding these training plans, please see the MurthyDotCom NewsBrief, Form I-983 Training Plan for STEM OPT Students (20.Jun.2016).
Student and Employer Share Responsibility for Form I-983
Each student applying for a STEM OPT extension must complete an I-983 form, with his/her prospective employer, and return it to the designated school official (DSO) with the employer’s signature. The extension application must be filed before the student’s initial OPT period expires. The student is responsible for ensuring that the prospective employer is enrolled in E-Verify, and for completing sections 1 and 2 of the I-983. Sections 3 through 9 are to be completed by the prospective employer with the student. The employer must also review the student’s annual self-evaluation.
New I-983 Required for Material Change
If the employer’s FEIN changes, or if there is a reduction in compensation not tied to less time worked, then there is a material change and another I-983 must be executed. Similarly, a significant decrease in hours per week or changes in the student’s learning objectives are considered a material change and require the completion of a new I-983 form by both the employer and the employee.
DSO Responsible for Maintaining and Updating I-983
The DSO must check the document for completeness and maintain the student’s records, including both the I-983 and all self-evaluations, for three (3) years after the end of the STEM OPT period. These records may be maintained as hard copies or electronic copies. The DSO is also responsible for determining whether a student meets the eligibility requirements for STEM OPT and, if so, to update the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) accordingly.
Staffing Agencies and Consulting Companies
SEVP confirms that students may use staffing agencies and consulting companies, but such entities cannot complete and sign an I-983 unless they are able to show an employer-employee relationship and oversight of the student’s training. The student and employer must complete a new I-983 form for every training opportunity that comes up, as they would with any change in employer. If it is with multiple employers, the student must meet the 20-hours-minimum per week, per employer. More information on this matter is provided on the DHS Study in the States website.
Remote / Offsite Employment
The new STEM OPT rule does not prohibit offsite employment. The physical location of employment – that is, where the student’s day-to-day job duties are to be performed – must be listed on the I-983 form. The DSO must input the physical employment location into SEVIS. If there is a change in job location, this must be reported to the DSO. It remains unclear, however, whether a work location change would require a new I-983.
Given the training plan requirement for STEM OPT filings is relatively new, the Murthy Law Firm is working with both employers and students to help set up the I-983 training plans for STEM OPT extensions, and guiding employers to ensure compliance with legal requirements. Stakeholders with questions about the training plan requirement may schedule a consultation with a Murthy Law Firm attorney. Likewise, company representatives can sign up for the December 7, 2016, corporate teleconference Form I-983 Training Plan for STEM OPT Students.
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