Notification posted by the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO).

New F-1 OPT STEM Regulations – Effective May 10, 2016
UCSF occasionally hires international students who have been in valid F-1 status and are in their Optional Practical Training (OPT) year.  These international students are sponsored by UCSF and other educational institutions, depending on where the F-1 student’s degree was awarded. 

Effective May 10, 2016, there are new regulations that may allow for international students who have been granted a degree in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields to extend their F-1 OPT status if they meet certain criteria.  

This notification provides guidance for departments who are currently employing (or who will employ) F-1 OPT STEM students. For more information about F-1 OPT, please refer to the ISSO website.

What is STEM OPT?
STEM OPT allows international students with a U.S. Bachelors, Masters, or Doctoral degree in certain Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) fields to work beyond the initial 12-month OPT period.

What are the important changes?

  • Duration: STEM OPT period will increase from 17-months to 24-months (for a total of 36 eligible months of employment)
  • Training Plan, Form I-983: Students and employers must complete and submit a training plan to their international student adviser before an application can be sent to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) 
  • Training Plan Modifications: Material changes to employment require that students and employers update and submit the training plan to their international student adviser 
  • Evaluations: Requires annual and final supervisor evaluation 
  • Employment Requirements: Must work a minimum of 20-hours per week and be paid employment; without salary (WOS) appointments are not eligible for OPT STEM
  • Termination: Terminations prior to the authorized employment end date must be reported to the sponsoring F-1 school within 5 business days

How will UCSF hiring departments be impacted?

  • It will require the employer and employee to create a training plan using DHS form I-983. Guidance for completing the I-983 can be found here.  
  • The employee’s supervisor will need to evaluate the student on an annual basis and complete a final evaluation.  
  • Termination of employment prior to the end date of authorized employment will need to be reported to the sponsoring school within 5 business days. The supervisor completing the training plan will be required to notify the sponsoring institution’s international office. 


  • If you are working with a UCSF-sponsored F-1 OPT STEM student, please contact [email protected]. An F-1 “UCSF-sponsored student” is an international student who has been granted a degree from UCSF.   
  • If you are working with a non-UCSF sponsored F-1 OPT STEM student, the student must contact the international adviser at the institution that granted their degree for additional guidance. 
  • If you are an HR representative who has questions about employing a STEM OPT student, please contact the ISSO at [email protected].