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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
  • 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.

Application Process

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)