STEM OPT Reporting & Updates

Are you currently within your STEM OPT EAD period? Did you get an email from SEVP, telling you to make one of your STEM reports soon? Or perhaps something with your STEM employment has changed recently, like you joined a new employer, and you want to know how to report it (and possibly get an updated STEM I-20)? 

If you answered "Yes" to any of the above questions, then you've come to the right place. The information on this page is intended to help students on their 24 months of the STEM OPT extension understand, submit, and ultimately comply with their STEM reporting requirements to maintain F-1 status. The multi-functional tool for making any STEM report is called the STEM OPT Employment Update & Validation Reporting Form. Click the section(s) that apply to you below to find out what you need to submit and the application for doing so.

Once you have your STEM OPT, two-year EAD card, you will no longer be able to report certain updates in your SEVP Portal. The SEVP Portal has more functionality for students in their first year of "regular" 12 month OPT. Specifically, once you are on STEM OPT (your STEM EAD start date has arrived or passed), you must make any employer related reports, in addition to periodic validation reports which occur every six months, to the ISSO, and we will then update and process this in SEVIS for you. However, the ISSO does not accept these reports any which way (we do not accept emailed submissions)--we require you to submit an application, via Google Form, to request that a report be made on your behalf. We call this form the "STEM OPT Employment Update & Validation Reporting Form," or sometimes just the "STEM Reporting Form" for short, since ALL possible STEM updates are made using this form. Links to the form are found in each sub-section below or by clicking on the button below:

STEM OPT Employment Update & Validation Reporting Form

During the STEM OPT period, the U.S. government wants constant assurance that participants are doing what they are supposed to (e.g. working in a STEM job, and not in a non-STEM job etc.). To accomplish this, SEVP/ICE require students to submit reports to their DSO at the 6, 12, 18, and 24 month marks. These are called "Validation Reports," and every student on the STEM OPT Extension must do them. Failure to submit one of these reports constitutes a violation of your F-1 visa status. 

Here's a breakdown of each report, along with what you'll need to submit for each one: 

Most other STEM employer updates must be reported within 10 days of a change occurring. However, validation reports can be made up to 21 days before and 21 days after the due date, per your STEM EAD card. For example, if your STEM dates are 07/01/2022 - 06/30/2024, your:

  • 12 month report is due 7/01/2023, but...
  • ...It can be reported as early as June 10th, 2023.
  • ...And can be reported up to 21 days after that date, up to July 22nd, 2023.

Submitting a validation report early is best, but if you submit a validation report too early, you will be asked to re-submit at a more appropriate time. Note: OPT/STEM OPT students must report personal (physical, residential) address changes in the SEVP Portal.

A student within their STEM OPT EAD period who resigns, is fired or laid off, or otherwise stops working for their STEM employer must report the loss of employment within 10 days of their last day of employment at the employer. A student in this situation will submit the STEM OPT Employment Update & Validation Reporting Form within 10 days of the last day of employment. They will need to upload the bottom portion of Page 5 of the Form I-983 as part of their submission. A "Final Evaluation" is always required when leaving an employer, even if it is not the end of the STEM EAD/the 24 month evaluation. A student in this situation will not receive a new STEM I-20, unless they also report a new employer at the same time (see next section).

Hurrah! You've gained a new STEM job or switched jobs. You will need to report this within 10 days of starting work, so you can get a new, updated STEM I-20 showing the new employer. A student in this situation will submit the STEM OPT Employment Update & Validation Reporting Form within 10 days of starting work. The student will need to upload a new Form I-983 (Pages 1-4 only, unless your 12 or 24 month report is due within the next 21 days--then you also must complete the relevant portion of Page 5 as well) as part of their submission. 

Once your new employer request has been processed, the ISSO will upload your new STEM I-20 in ISSOconnect, unless you've chosen to receive the form in some other way (as indicated on your submission).

Sometimes, the details of your job may change, which may require an updated Form I-983 to be submitted, along with the STEM OPT Employment Update & Validation Reporting Form. Situations where details on the Form I-983 change are called "Material Changes" and must be reported within 10 days of the change occurring. However, in most of these situations, you will not receive a new I-20, since Material Change fields generally do not appear on the I-20. Examples of Material Changes may include: changes to your supervisor, salary, job title, work site location and more. Essentially, if the information on your old Form I-983 is no longer accurate, you must update that and report it.

If your employer's address (city or state) or company name have changed, then you may receive a new STEM I-20, since these fields not only appear in SEVIS, but also are printed on the I-20.
The processing time for a submitted STEM OPT Employment Update & Validation Reporting Form, excluding shipping time (if applicable), is 10 business days. Note that holidays and weekends are not considered business days. For validation reports specifically, it can sometimes take several weeks for the report to reflect in the SEVP Portal after it has been completed. The ISSO does not accept expedite requests, and a lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on our part. We process all requests simply in the order in which they appear in the queue as a way to be fair to all students. 

Students who successfully submit a STEM OPT Employment Update & Validation Reporting Form will receive a copy of their responses via email within a few minutes of submission. If you do not receive a copy of your responses within 1 hour of submitting, it is likely that your report did not go through and you will need to re-attempt submission, likely for one of the following reasons:

  • Some employers' servers block Google Form completion at work. To avoid this, we recommend not submitting the Form at work.
  • Make sure you are logged in to only one Google account at a time. Being logged into multiple accounts at once can cause the submission not to go through.

The ISSO does not provide confirmation when the report has been processed and made. However, you can always check your SEVP Portal to see whether the report has been made or if details have been updated (if applicable). You'll just need to log in to your SEVP Portal to do this. 

If you made a mistake on a recently submitted report, you just need to submit a new report with the correct information--thankfully this is an easy fix.

However, if you log into your SEVP Portal one day and see anything like the screen below, unfortunately, you've missed one or more of your mandatory STEM reports:

This is not a good situation, and unfortunately, there is no way to make a STEM report retroactively or otherwise "fix" this. SEVIS does not have a mechanism for this. During the 42 day window for reporting, which includes 21 days before the due date, and 21 days after the due date, a button appears in a STEM OPT student's SEVIS record:

After 21 days after the due date, the button shown above simply disappears. Even a DSO has no ability to report if you've missed the deadline.

This leads us to the next question students ask: what happens if I missed a report (or several)?

The ISSO cannot predict what the exact consequences will be. Technically, failure to report is a violation of STEM OPT rules and regulations, but our office will not terminate your STEM OPT for such a lapse. If any consequences occur, they will occur in a future H-1B or green card petition, when the government will ask for proof that you submitted all relevant STEM reports in a timely manner. If that situation arises for you, you obviously won't have proof that you submitted on time (and our office won't have that either). A screenshot of your SEVP Portal will show a missed report, and so will your SEVIS record. If you receive a Request for Evidence for a USCIS petition related to a failure to report, you may want to hire a competent immigration attorney to assist you with responding to the RFE in a strategic manner. The ISSO cannot advise on this, as we cannot give legal advice.

The uncertainty surrounding the failure to report is one major reason why students should be diligent about their reporting dates (we recommend circling them on a calendar or setting a reminder for yourself). In the end, students who fail to report must accept their mistake and hope that it does not come back to cause issues. This is a tough pill to swallow, but reflects the reality of the situation.

With your 12 and 24 month reports, as noted above, you must submit Page 5 of your Form I-983 with the top or bottom portion completed, respectively. Many students ask what the range of evaluation dates should be. This is quite simple: the start date of the evaluation will always be your start date with the current company within the STEM OPT EAD period (time on 12 month OPT is not evaluated). The end date can be the date of signing or the evaluation due date--either is fine, so long as they are "close enough" to your report due date (generally, within 21 days before or up to 21 days after). 

At the moment, the U.S. government does not require the Form I-983 to be uploaded into SEVIS when a report is made. This means that when you submit a report, currently, the only place where that document is stored is with the ISSO. Only an ISSO DSO will see the document. However, this does not mean that the Form I-983 can be missing information -- when you submit a report, the Form I-983 and relevant portions must be complete, or we will ask you to re-do it. Any Form I-983s you submit during your STEM period will remain in storage with ISSO for the statuatory period in which we must keep documents -- 3 years after your STEM OPT ends.  

However: if a U.S. government official ever visits the ISSO and/or asks to see a specific file or Form I-983, we may need to turn that over to them, as sometimes happens in an audit or if SEVP/ICE is investigating a student.‚Äč