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Operating Instructions

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In March 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security published amended F-1 nonimmigrant student regulations on optional practical training (OPT) for certain students with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degrees from U.S. institutions of higher education. The amended regulations, which provide for an extension of the OPT period by 24 months (a STEM OPT extension), will go into effect on May 10, 2016.

Interested F-1 students must apply for and receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The 2016 final rule that reinstates the 24-month STEM OPT regulations increases the educational benefits that F-1 students receive from their practical training experiences by requiring the submissionof a formal training plan that clearly articulates the STEM OPT student’s learning objectives and affirm the employer’s commitment to helping the student achieve those objectives. To fulfill this requirement, a student and their employer must complete and sign Form I-983, “Training Plan for STEM OPT Students,” and submit it to the student’s DSO.

STEM OPT students and their employers are subject to the terms and conditions of the 24-month STEM OPT extension regulations, the Form I-983 instructions and the completed Form I-983, effective as of the employment start date requested for the associated STEM OPT period, as indicated on the Form I-983.

STEM OPT students may participate in entrepreneurial ventures where the student is an employee. However, they may not act as their own employer or as the signatory for the employer for the purposes of the form.

Visit Study in the States’ STEM OPT Hub for more information.

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Final guidance is official SEVP policy that establishes standards or requirements and is used in SEVP adjudications. Final guidance is not open for public comment. It is intended to clarify law or regulation related to SEVP adjudications and does not replace or supersede those laws or regulations.

SEVP has issued final guidance on the following issues:

TitleDescription
Flight Training ProvidersThis policy addresses requirements for flight schools to receive SEVP certification. Specifically, SEVP requires that flight schools have Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Part 141 or Part 142 certification.

Read the final guidance.
Accreditation of English Training Programs Act (Accreditation Act)This guidance provides SEVP policy, process, and timeline for enforcing the Accreditation Act.

The Accreditation Act requires all English language training programs of study (commonly referred to as ESL programs) to have applied for accreditation before December 15, 2011. This accreditation must be granted by a regional or national accrediting agency that the Department of Education currently recognizes.

You can read the final guidance on the SEVP website.
Reporting Instructional SitesThis policy addresses the types of instructional sites school officials need to report on the Form I-17.

You can read the final guidance on the SEVP website.