LSU F-1 OPT Reporting Requirements

Required SEVIS Reporting for F-1 Students on Optional Practical Training
(Post-Completion, Cap-Gap, STEM OPT Extension)


During your OPT period, there are certain reporting requirements students must follow to maintain F-1 status. Please remember that you must be at least part-time employed (20 hours per week minimum) to be considered employed for the purposes of post-completion OPT. Please continue reading for important information on your reporting responsibilities during your OPT period.
 

SEVIS Reporting Requirement

The federal regulations regarding F-1 student OPT state that, "Within 10 days of the change, the student must report to the student’s DSO a change of legal name, residential or mailing address, employer name, employer address, and/or loss of employment." These changes must be reported to  International Services (ISO). This is an extremely important part of maintaining legal F-1 status during your period of post-completion OPT and any OPT extensions. Your SEVIS record will automatically begin counting days of unemployment once your OPT has been approved and becomes valid. In order to avoid any adverse actions, it will be important for you to keep up with timely reporting throughout your OPT period, including any OPT extensions.

You will need to report any changes and interruptions in employment. We strongly recommend that you also keep track of how many days of unemployment you accumulate during your OPT period. Please remember that you cannot exceed 90 days of unemployment during your 12 months of post-completion OPT. If you qualify for and apply for the STEM OPT extension, you receive an additional 60 days of unemployment allowance.
 

SEVP Student Reporting Portal

Once your OPT application has been approved, you will receive an email from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) inviting you to set up your SEVP student portal account. It is important to note that reporting your employment and address changes via the SEVP portal does not eliminate your responsibility to report your employment and address changes directly to the school that has your SEVIS record (i.e. LSU International Services). Use of the portal is optional, however reporting your employment and address changes to the school is a mandated regulatory requirement. If you create a portal account and use the SEVP portal, you must also continue reporting employment and address changes directly to ISO via the designated method. Be sure to report any updates made directly into the portal to ISO.

The SEVP portal will allow you to update the following fields in your SEVIS record:
  • Physical home address
  • Mailing Address
  • Telephone Number
  • Certain OPT employer information 
The portal account also allows you to add new employers and delete employers where employment never occurred. Never delete any employer that you have worked for. You may only delete employers that were entered by accident or employment that was entered but never started.

Please make use of the SEVP informational pages for help accessing the SEVP portal. We also recommend reviewing the frequently asked questions about the SEVP portal
 

Obligation to Explain How the Employment is Related to Your Course of Study

All employment that you engage in during your OPT period (including any and all OPT extensions) must be directly related to your major field of study as listed on your form I-20. If you were an undergraduate student with two majors, both of those fields are eligible for OPT employment, however a minor field of study is not. As of September 27, 2019, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program has provided additional detail on how students are to explain and document this connection. When you complete your OPT reporting, you will need to explain in writing how the job relates to your major area of study. This explanation should include details on your specific job duties and how they are connected to courses or material that you studied during your program. General statements like, "I have an accounting degree and I work in an accounting firm" will not be sufficient.

It will be important to include the following information in your written description:
  • Job Title
  • Employer's Name
  • Whether the work is full-time or the average number hours per week
  • Description of your regular duties
  • How those duties are connected to what you studied at LSU
ISO staff are required by SEVP to review the statements students supply with their OPT reporting. If the statement provided does not establish a logical connection between the employment and the field of study, we are required to follow up to request additional information.

Sample Explanations of a Direct Relationship (as taken from SEVP Policy Guidance 9.27.2019)
Please see below for examples provided by SEVP on how students should report their employment.
  1. Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering: I work full time as an Electrical Engineer at ABC Corp., a government contractor. In my job, I analyze client requirements for electrical systems and provide them with cost estimates of such systems. My work requires understanding of electrical circuit theory, which I studied in-depth at the University of ABC.
  2. Bachelor's degree in Business: I work full time as a Loan Officer at a mortgage company, Happy Homes, where I meet with clients and evaluate, authorize and recommend approval of loan applications. On a daily basis, I use the knowledge I gained in my credit analysis, sales and marketing classes that I took as part of my major program of study.
  3. Master's degree in Music: I am working at a hospital playing the harp in patient rooms. I also conduct hands-on harp beginner workshops for long-term patients. On average, I work at the hospital 35 hours a week. My duties directly utilize the skills and knowledge I acquired from my coursework and degree in music therapy.
  4. PhD in Computer Science: I am employed as a Computer and Information Research Scientist at ABC Research Institute. I work as part of a team of scientists and engineers that designs experiments to test the operation of various software systems. My work builds on research in complex algorithms and machine learning, which I studied as part of my dissertation.
  5. Master's degree in Kinesiology: I am working 25 hours a week in a health food store as a consultant for Self-Made Inc., designing and teaching exercise classes that are incorporated into a customer's overall nutrition and exercise plan . My designs and customer instruction draw upon my studies and classwork in exercise therapy and physical reconditioning. 

Documenting the Direct Relationship Between Your Employment and Your Degree
We strongly recommend that students maintain documentation of the connection between the work done during OPT and the degree earned at LSU. A sample of items that can help you establish the connection are listed below: We also recommend that you keep copies of all job offer letters, resignation letters, notices from employers about company name changes, relocations, transfers, etc. for all employment you have during your OPT period.
 

Overview of OPT SEVIS Reporting Requirements

Listed below are cases in which you must report information to ISO. Please use the OPT Reporting Form to provide your updates to International Services. You can report more than one update simultaneously by selecting all of the check box options that apply to your update.

You have two options for satisfying the legal reporting requirements during your OPT and STEM OPT:
  1. Report changes in your information directly to ISO using the OPT Reporting form. Allow 10 business days for processing. You will receive an email from ISO confirming that your updates have been reported in SEVIS. Log in to your SEVP student portal to confirm that the updates show up in your student portal view.
  2. Report your changes via the SEVP student portal. Complete the OPT Reporting form to report to ISO the updates you have made via the SEVP student portal and request an updated I-20 if needed. You can only use the SEVP student portal to make timely updates. If the change is more than 10 days old, you will need to report directly through ISO.
10-Day Reporting Requirements
Cases Requiring Reporting How to Report
Any change to your local address Use the OPT Reporting form to provide your updated address or phone number details. Select 'Address Change' from the list of options.
If you change or add employers Use the OPT Reporting form to provide your employment updates. Select the reporting options that apply to your update. Your statement explaining how your employment is related to your degree must include:
  • Job title
  • Description of regular duties (see section above for guidelines on this statement)
  • How the duties are related to what you studied at LSU (or in your qualifying STEM degree, if you are on the STEM extension)
  • Form I-983 from new employer (STEM extension only)
  • Form I-983 with final evaluation from former employer (STEM Extension only)
STEM OPT Extension students must submit a new Form I-983 Training Plan completed in cooperation with your new supervisor online. Review the Sample I-983 for a visual guide of how to complete the form according to DHS guidance.
If you end or leave a job Use the OPT Reporting form to provide your employment updates. Select the reporting option(s) that apply to your update(s).
  • Your current local address
  • Employer Name
  • Employer address
  • Employment end date 
  • Form I-983 with final evaluation (if you are on the STEM extension)
Please Note: Students on OPT can accumulate up to 90 days of unemployment and still maintain status. Students on the STEM Extension, can accumulate a maximum of 150 days of unemployment. (This is inclusive of the 90 days of unemployment allowed during the initial post-completion OPT. You must not accumulate more than 150 days of unemployment during the entire 36 months of OPT.)
If any material changes are made to your Form I-983 (STEM OPT extension students only). Material changes include:
  • Your job role or job title changes significantly
  • Your goals and objectives change
  • You experience a reduction in compensation
  • You experience a decrease in hours worked per week (work cannot dip below 20 hour per week)
  • Your employer’s EIN changes
  • Your supervisor or supervisor's contact information changes
  • Any changes with the employer’s commitment to the learning objectives as detailed in the Form I-983
Use the OPT Reporting Form to submit your updated Form I-983 Training Plan completed in cooperation with your new supervisor. Select STEM OPT Material Change to I-983  as your reporting option.
If there is a case of employer non-compliance (STEM extension) Contact the Student and Exchange Visitor Program at ICE.gov OR report any violations through the Homeland Security Investigations tip submission form: https://www.ice.gov/webform/hsi-tip-form.
If you change status from F-1 or make a permanent departure from the U.S. Use the OPT Reporting form to report your change of status or final departure in F-1 status. You will need the following information to complete the form.
  • ‚ÄčIf reporting permanent departure:
    • Current employer name and address (if applicable)
    • last day of employment (if applicable)
    • current local address
    • personal email
    • phone number
    • date of departure from the U.S.
  • If reporting a change of status:
    • Current employer name and address
    • Current local address
    • Current personal email
    • Current phone number
    • Effective date of change of status
    • Copy of change of status approval notice

Additional Requirements that Apply to Students on the STEM OPT Extension

Once the STEM OPT extension begins (the day after your post-completion OPT ends) you will have additional reporting requirements to keep up with for the duration of the STEM OPT extension. This reporting is in addition to the standard event-based OPT reporting (changes in local address, legal name, etc.). Please review the sample I-983 for a visual aid on how to complete the form according to DHS guidance.
 

Validation Reporting
Every six months of the STEM OPT extension you will be required to confirm that you are still participating in your STEM OPT. To validate your participation, you will need to confirm that your employment information and local address are accurate and up to date in your SEVIS record. Use the OPT Reporting form to complete your validation reporting. You should first view your employment and address information via the SEVP student portal. If there are changes that need to be made to your address and/or employment, make those updates before completing your validation reporting. Note: Reporting new employment during the STEM OPT extension requires you to submit a new I-983.
 

Self-Evaluations
Every 12 months of your STEM OPT extension you are required to complete a self-evaluation (page 5 of the I-983) with your supervisor and submit it to ISO. Use the OPT Reporting form to complete your self-evaluation reporting. Please remember that any time you must submit an I-983, all five pages must be included. If there have been any changes to the information on pages 1-4, make those changes and get fresh signatures before submitting your self-evaluation.

Validation Reporting Reminder Emails from DHS
Your reporting due date is the exact 6, 12, 18 and 24 month mark. By law, you have a 10-day grace period to make your reporting to ISO. Under the legal reporting requirements, ISO then has a 21-day period to make the update to your SEVIS record.

The current email reminder notifications from DHS do not reflect the legal reporting timelines. The day after your reporting is due, you will receive an email from DHS notifying you that your reporting is past due. The email goes on to state that your F-1 status, your OPT and your SEVIS record will be terminated if you fail to report or if your School/DSO fails to update your SEVIS record. This statement is unfortunately both very alarming as well as inaccurate. ISO works to complete all OPT reporting within the legal reporting window. Please keep this reporting window in mind when submitting your reporting to ISO and when emailing or calling to check the status of your reporting.

Changes in Employment
Remember that during the STEM OPT extension, you can only work for employers who are registered in E-Verify and you are limited to jobs that are directly related to the qualifying STEM degree, that are paid and at least 20 hours per week. For each employer, you must complete a form I-983 and submit it to ISO within 10 calendar days of the change. Use the OPT reporting form to submit employment updates to ISO. If you are adding an employer, you only need to submit the new I-983. If you are leaving an employer and starting a new job, you must submit an I-983 with the final evaluation block completed (page 5) for the employment that is ending in addition to the I-983 for the new employment.

Material Changes to the I-983
If any of the information in your I-983 changes during your employment, you must update your I-983 and submit a new one to ISO via the OPT Reporting Form within 10 calendar days of the change.
 
Every 6 Months 12 Months into STEM OPT Extension 24 Months into STEM OPT Extenion
Use the OPT reporting form to confirm the following information has not changed. Select STEM OPT validation reporting from the reporting options, then choose the appropriate validation reporting term.
  • Legal name
  • Residential/mailing address
  • Employer name and address
  • Status of current employment
12 months from the listed STEM OPT start date you must: Complete and submit the “Evaluation of Student Progress” form on your Form I-983. Submit all five pages of the I-983.

You must also complete your 12-month validation reporting by confirming your current employment and local address.

Use the OPT reporting form to submit I-983 with your self-evaluation (all five pages) to ISO. Select STEM OPT validation reporting from the reporting options, then choose the appropriate validation reporting term.
24 months from the listed STEM OPT start date you must: Complete and submit a second “Evaluation of Student Progress” form on your Form I-983.

You must also complete your 12-month validation reporting by confirming your current employment and local address.

Use the OPT Reporting form to submit your I-983 with your self-evaluation (all five pages) to ISO. Select STEM OPT validation reporting from the reporting options, then choose the appropriate validation reporting term.
If you end a job during the STEM OPT extension, you must complete a Final Evaluation with your current employer and submit it to ISO via the OPT Reporting Form within 10 calendar days of your last day of employment. Your final evaluation must include all five pages of the I-983.


Completing the Self-Evaluation

Once on the STEM extension, students must complete a self evaluation at the 12 & 24 month mark. Students must also complete a final evaluation when leaving any employer during the STEM OPT extension. To complete the self-evaluations accurately, you should:

  • Assess your overall performance using the measures identified in the agreed upon training plan.
  • Evaluate your success in applying and acquiring the new knowledge, skills and competencies that were previously identified in your Training Plan.
  • Discuss your accomplishments, successful projects, overall contributions, etc., that occurred during the specified review period.
  • Address whether any changes or modifications have been made to the objectives and goals for projects or new areas for skill and competency development.
Always submit a fully completed (i.e. all five pages) I-983 when submitting your evaluations.
 

Travel during OPT and STEM OPT

You will need to request a travel signature on your OPT or STEM OPT I-20 if you plan to travel internationally while on OPT. Please use the Travel Signature Request form to submit this request to ISO. Allow five to ten business days for processing. When you travel, you will need to have the following items with you when you re-enter the U.S.:
  1. Valid passport. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months into the future at the time of your reentry to the U.S.
  2. Valid F-1 entry visa.
  3. Updated I-20 with valid travel signature.This travel signature must be less than 6 months old at the time of your return to the U.S.
  4. Proof of your OPT approval (i.e. your EAD card).
  5. Proof of employment. An employment verification letter is recommended. We also recommend traveling with the contact information for your hiring manager or supervisor.
Be sure to check your F-1 visa expiration date. If your visa has expired or will expire while you are outside of the United States, you will need to renew it before returning to the United States. We strongly recommend that you discuss your situation with an ISO advisor before making travel plans if your F-1 visa has expired.

If you are eligible for the STEM OPT extension and your current OPT will expire before or soon after your travel plans, we advise students to apply for the STEM OPT extension before their departure from the U.S.