Employment Requirements during the 24-month STEM OPT

Employment Requirements during the 24-month STEM OPT

You must work at least 20 hours per week for an employer that

a) participates in the E-Verify program and

b) agrees to follow all the employer requirements in the 24-month STEM rule.

The government has new guidance about acceptable types of employment for the  24-month STEM Extension. Please email for all questions regarding STEM OPT.

Mutliple Employers

The Department of Homeland Security has commented that although working for multiple employes is not prohibited, each employer must employ the student for no less than 20 hours per week, and must fully comply with the requiremetns of the 24-month STEM rule. 


The Department of Homeland Security has also commented that students may be employed by new start-up businesses as long as all regulatory requirements are met, including that the employer:

a) adheres to the training plan requirements

b) remains in good standing with E-Verify

c) will provide compensation to the STEM OPT student commensurate to that provided to similarly situated U.S. workers

  • For instance, alternative compensation may be allowed during a STEM OPT extension as long as the F-1 student can show that he or she is a bona fide employee and that his or her compensation, including any ownership interest in the employer entity (such as stock options) is commensurate with the compensation provided to other similarly situated U.S. workers.

d) has the resources to comply with the proposed training plan.

Self-Employment, Work for Hire, and Employment through Agencies/Consulting Firms

The government has commented:

“There are several aspects of the STEM OPT extension that do not make it apt for certain types of arrangements, including multiple employer arrangements, sole proprietorships, employment through ‘temp’ agencies, employment through consulting firm arrangements that provide labor for hire, and other relationships that do not constitute a bona fide employer-employee relationship.. . . Accordingly, DHS clarifies that students cannot qualify for STEM OPT extensions unless they will be bona fide employees of the employer signing the (I-983) Training Plan, and the employer that signs the (I-983) Training Plan must be the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience.”

“Additionally, guidance from the USCIS states: (3rd parties)…may not, however, assign or contract out students to work for one of their customers or clients, and assign, or otherwise delegate, their training responsibilities to the customer or client.”

Volunteer and Uncompensated Activity

The government has commented:

“DHS carefully considered whether to allow volunteer positions to qualify under the STEM OPT extension program but has decided against permitting such arrangements. … Requiring commensurate compensation for F-1 students — which does not include no compensation — protects both international and domestic students and ensures that the qualifying STEM positions are substantive opportunities. . . .”