- Multiple Employers: You may work for more than one employer, but you must submit a Form I-983 training plan for each job before it begins. All employment must be directly related to your STEM degree program, all employers must be enrolled in E-Verify, and you must work at least 20 hours per week for each employer.
- Start-ups & Entrepreneurship: You must be a bona fide employee of the employer signing the Form I-983. You may not provide employer attestations (i.e., signatures) on your own behalf or sign your own Form I-983.
- However, STEM OPT applicants can participate in a start-up or small business so long as all regulatory requirements are met. The employer that signs the Form I-983 Training Plan must be the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience. The employer must also be enrolled in E-Verify and be able to comply with the training plan proposed on the Form I-983.
Per USCIS guidance, the following arrangements may not be able to demonstrate a bona fide employer-employee relationship and are therefore may not qualify:
- Self Employment/Sole Proprietorships
- Employment through Staffing/Temporary Agencies and Independent Contractors: The regulations require a “bona fide employer-employee relationship” for STEM eligibility, and states that the employer that signs the Form I-983 must be the same entity that provides the practical training experience to the student.
For more detailed guidance, please see the USCIS website's STEM page and consult with your employer for more information.
Please note that while the ISSO can provide guidance on these matters, determinations on whether or not your job will qualify as STEM OPT employment are ultimately up to USCIS' discretion.