STEM Extension OPT
F-1 students who earn a bachelor's or master's in certain science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields are eligible for an extension of post-completion OPT—called STEM Extension OPT.
New STEM regulations took effect on May 10, 2016. Key changes include:
- Extends the length of time from 17 months to 24 months
- Requires employers to complete a Form I-983, “Training Plan for STEM OPT Students.”
- Allows students who graduated with a non-STEM degree but who received an earlier STEM degree from an accredited institution in the U.S. to apply for the STEM extension
- Qualifying degree and school
- Valid F-1 status.
- Completed a bachelor's or master's in a STEM degree listed on the STEM Designated Degree Program List and are currently engaged in post-completion OPT.
- Double major degrees will be considered, but not minor degrees.
- Qualifying job
- Job must be paid employment for a minimum of 20 hours per week.
- Qualifying employer
- Employer must be registered in the E-Verify Program.
- Form I-983 Training Plan
- Employer must design a training program and sign agreement on Form I-983.
- Filing deadlines
- Application must be received by USCIS no earlier than 90 days before the expiration of current post-completion OPT and no later than the expiration of the current post-completion OPT.
- Application must be received no later than 60 days from the date the DSO recommended the STEM OPT Extension on the new I-20.
Because it takes approximately 60-90 days for the US Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to approve your application, you are strongly encouraged to apply early.
NOTE: You can apply up to 90 days before your OPT end date, but no later than the end date of your OPT.
STEP #1: Make an appointment or email an international student advisor in the Office of Global Education to discuss the application process.
STEP #2: Gather all documents for the STEM Extension OPT application package and complete form I-983 with employer.
STEP #3: Make an appointment with an international student advisor to complete the application process in person. Make sure to bring all documents listed, including the signed I-983 form. The appointment will last approximately 30 minutes.
STEP #4: Global Education will mail the STEM Extension OPT application package to USCIS. The application package must be received by USCIS before the current I-766 Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card expires.
STEP #5: Continue employment. If the STEM Extension OPT is timely filed, employment authorization is automatically extended for up to 180 days while the application is pending with USCIS. 8 CFR 214.2(f)(11)(i)(C) and 8 CFR 247a.12(c)(6)(iv)