Hiring F-1 OPT and STEM OPT Employees

F-1 OPT Employees

International students in F-1 immigration status who graduate from a U.S. institution (Dartmouth or another U.S. college or university) may be eligible for up to 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT) that is directly related to their field of study.  Graduates with valid OPT work authorization can work for any U.S. employer so long as the work is at least part-time, and is directly related to their major.  Individuals with valid OPT do not require Dartmouth immigration sponsorship in order to begin working.
Because OVIS is not involved in the immigration sponsorship of employees who are hired based on F-1 OPT, we ask that hiring departments notify us of new employees so that we can schedule a brief check-in with the employee during which time we can add their information to our case management system, and provide an opportunity for the employee to ask any immigration-related questions.  It is important to note that unless the position being offered is a position that is eligible for immigration sponsorship at Dartmouth, and the individual is eligible for sponsorship, the employment authorization will end when the employee’s OPT expires.  Departments can contact Talent Acquisition in Human Resources and OVIS with questions about whether a particular position is eligible for sponsorship.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) STEM Extension

International students in F-1 immigration status who graduate from a U.S. institution (Dartmouth or another U.S. college or university) with degrees in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields may be eligible for an extension of their 12-month period of F-1 Optional Practical Training work authorization.

The STEM OPT extension carries specific obligations for the STEM OPT employer, including:

  • Completion of a STEM OPT Training Plan
  • Annual performance evaluations
  • Mandatory reporting for material changes in STEM OPT employment
  • Termination of employment

Required Information

Supervisors must work with the F-1 employee to complete, review and sign the Form I-983 STEM OPT Training Plan.

The supervisor of the STEM OPT employee must complete and sign Section 6 of the Form I-983, "Employer Official Certification.”

The Employer Certification in Section 4 of the Form I-983 must be signed by a senior administrator with oversight of STEM OPT employment. OVIS maintains a list of designated signatories; please consult with us for this information. Signatories must review the certifications carefully, as they outline some of Dartmouth's obligations as a STEM OPT employer.

Evaluation of Student Progress

Employees on STEM OPT are required to complete a 12- and 24-month “Evaluation of Student Progress” on the Form I-983, in coordination with the STEM OPT supervisor. Once the evaluations are complete, the employee must collect signatures from their supervisors and return the form to their F-1 sponsoring institution.

Please retain a copy of the completed Form I-983 and evaluation page(s) for your records.

STEM OPT evaluations are a shared responsibility of both the employee and the employer to ensure that the practical training goals are being met. The employee is responsible for conducting self-evaluations, obtaining the necessary signatures and returning the assessments to their schools.

Information to Include

  • Assess overall performance using the measures identified in the agreed-upon training plan.
  • Evaluate success in applying and acquiring the new knowledge, skills and competencies that were previously identified in the plan.
  • Discuss accomplishments, successful projects, overall contributions, etc., that occurred during the specified review period.
  • Address whether there are any modifications to objectives and goals for projects or new areas for skill and competency development.

Important Dates

  • First assessment is due 12 months after the STEM OPT start date.
  • Final assessment is due no later than 10 days after the training period ends.

Reporting Obligations and Site Visits

The STEM OPT employer also has certain reporting obligations, including reporting of material changes to the I-983 training plan and loss of employment.

The STEM OPT rule allows the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to perform site visits at STEM OPT employer locations. DHS will provide 48 hours’ notice to the employer of a site visit, unless the visit is triggered by a complaint or other evidence of non-compliance with the STEM OPT program. If you are notified of a DHS site visit, please contact OVIS.