STEM OPT Employment at W&M and VIMS

STEM OPT (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Optional Practical Training) is a work authorization that an incoming employee may have received from their former college or university. For example, there are several degrees at W&M and VIMS that allow recent alums to apply for STEM OPT.

Though W&M and VIMS would not be typically sponsoring an incoming employee for STEM OPT, there are obligations we must fulfill if an employee has this work authorization.


For a W&M or VIMS position to be eligible for STEM OPT, it must be:

  • Paid
  • At least 20 hours per week
  • Directly related to the employee's STEM degree
  • Include training, documented in Form I-983
  • It cannot replace a full time or part time, temporary or permanent U.S. worker
Completing Form I-983

The I-983 is a training plan for the employee and their position, so many of the questions relate to the type of training and supervision the employee will receive.

  • Form I-983 (pdf) for William and Mary employees, Form I-983 (pdf) for VIMS employees
  • This must be completed before the employee begins work.
  • Page 1: The new hire will complete this, in partnership with the college or university who holds their immigration record.
  • Page 2 - 4: The hosting W&M or VIMS department should complete these, and have the department chair review and sign (signatures needed page 2 and 4).
    • Page 2 - 4: Though the form refers to a "student," it's asking about the details of the new employee and their position.
    • Page 2: Primarily information about the goals, objectives, oversight, and assessment of the position.
  • Page 5: These are two self evaluations that do not need to be completed initially.
Self Evaluations

Following the deadlines listed below, these must be completed by the employee, signed by the department chair, and submitted to [[ehbailey,Emily Bailey]] at the Reves Center, and to the employee, who must submit it to the college or university who holds their immigration record. 

  • Evaluation on Student Progress: Due before the end of their first year of work.
  • Final Evaluation on Student Progress: Due before the end of their STEM OPT or when their position ends (whichever comes first).
Employment Changes

Any time there are changes to the employee's position, an updated I-983 must be given to the employee and to the Reves Center within 5 business days. Examples:

  • Reduction in compensation (not tied to a reduction in hours worked)
  • Significant increase in hours worked per week
  • Decrease in hours below 20 hours per week
  • Significant change in position or duties

The US Department of Homeland Security offers guidance on how to complete the I-983.

Limits and Next Steps

This work authorization will last a maximum of 24 months (36 months if original OPT is included). The employee should have a work authorization card that lists the end date. 

If you foresee wanting the employee to work past their end date, please work with the Reves Center to explore additional options. Some of these take several months to be approved, so advanced notice is always recommended.