Employing F-1 Students on Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training Overview (OPT)

International students enrolled and completing degree programs are often sponsored by their schools in the F-1 student visa category.  This category allows the school to sponsor students for a period of practical training so they can enhance their academic degree.  If the training period is approved by the sponsoring school, the student will apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).  Once OPT is approved by the USCIS, the students will be allowed to work in a field related to their degree for the duration of approval.  UCSF departments employ OPT students for the duration of their EAD approval.

Initial OPT

All F-1 students are eligible for up to 12 months of OPT for employment in their field of study.  If a UCSF wishes to host a student utilizing OPT, they should first contact their HR Service Center to arrange an appropriate appointment.  Please keep in mind that the student cannot begin working prior to the start date on their EAD card.


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.

Important Considerations for STEM OPT

  • Duration: Up to 24-months (for a total of 36 eligible months of employment with initial OPT)
  • 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 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.

Important Considerations for STEM OPT.

  • 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 at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security webpage.
  • 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.

Completing the I-983 form

Click here for I-983 form with UCSF information

Section 1:

Required information for this section should be obtained by the employee contacting their F-1 visa sponsor. This is the school they most recently graduated from and whose name appears on their I-20 form.

Section 3:

  1. Employer Name:  University of California, San Francisco
  2. Street Address: 
  3. 500 Parnassus Avenue, MU200W
    San Francisco, CA 94143-0244
  4. UCSF website
  5. Employer ID Number (EIN): 94-6036493
  6. Number of US Employees: 22,800
  7. North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Code: 611310
  8. Signature of Employer Official:  PI or Supervisor

Section 4 and 6:

This section should be completed and signed by the PI or supervisor.



  • If you are employing 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 awarded a degree from UCSF.
  • If you are employing 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 a UCSF department representative who has questions about employing a STEM OPT student, please contact the ISSO at [email protected].