The OPT STEM Extension is a 24-month extension of post-completion OPT that can be requested by students who have received a U.S. Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degrees in certain STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields as designated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The length of STEM OPT from 17 months to 24 months has been changed officially from May 10, 2016, according to a new rule by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Students may only use the OPT STEM Extension once.
Who is Eligible
Students are eligible for the OPT STEM Extension if:
- You have not previously received a 24-month OPT STEM Extension.
- The degree CIP code on page 1 of your current OPT I-20 is on the STEM List.
- You have a job or job offer from an employer enrolled in E-Verify. E-Verify is an employment verification program that you can learn more about on DHS' website. You can locate employers currently enrolled in E-Verify on USCIS' website.
- You have maintained your F-1 status during your initial 12-month OPT
Before applying to USCIS for a STEM OPT extension, a STEM OPT student must download complete, download, complete, sign and submit the Form I-983 to their DSO. The STEM OPT student and their prospective employer must work together to complete this form. STEM OPT student and their employers are subject to the terms of the 24-month STEM OPT extension regulations and Form I-983 instructions, effective as of the start date requested for STEM OPT, as indicated on the form.
How and When to Apply
USCIS must receive your OPT STEM Extension application before the expiration date of your current EAD. You can apply up to 120 days before the expiration date. Students may continue to work for up to 180 days after your current EAD expires while your OPT Extension application is pending with USCIS, as long as you have filed your application on time.
Gather the following STEM OPT documents and submit to the ISA 60-days prior to the OPT end date.
- Application fee of $380 check or money order payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- Two Passport-style photos
- Form I-765 including section 17 completed. Your degree should be listed as it is shown on your I-20 and should match your transcripts and diploma. Employer’s name should be listed as it is listed in E-verify along with their e-verify number.
- G-1145 Form completed
- Copy of transcripts and diploma; Printed I-94 form (accessible online) passport ID page(s) including expiration date; Visa stamp; all previous EAD cards (if applicable).
The above items must be submitted to the ISSS office for review by the ISA, who will issue a new I-20 with the STEM OPT recommendation and finalize your STEM OPT Application Package.
Hours and Restrictions
- You may not accrue more than 120 days of unemployment during your total 29 months of OPT.
- You may change employers while on the STEM extension, but the new employer must also be e-verify.
- Students are required by immigration regulations to report their OPT information to ISSS within 10 days of any change by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
- You cannot travel outside the U.S. while your STEM extension is pending.