STEM 24 Month OPT Extension
- A student may not be authorized for more than two lifetimeSTEM OPT extensions.
- The period cannot be “split” into 2 periods.
- The employment start date on the new EAD card will be the day immediately following the expiration of the initial OPT employment authorization period.
- Completed a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in a qualifying STEM degree program.
The STEM Designated Degree Program List consists of Classification of Instructional Programs codes that have been designated by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) as science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) degrees that qualify for the STEM extension if all other eligibility requirements are fulfilled. Please check the STEM Designated Degree Program List to see if you have a qualifying CIP code.
- Currently approved for and engaging in post-completion OPT based on completion of a designated STEM degree program. Students authorized for Pre-Completion OPT are not eligible for a STEM extension. Students who have already completed post-completion OPT and are in their following grace period are not eligible for a STEM extension.
- Employed by an employer who is currently registered and in good standing with the USCIS E-Verify program. A list of employers and federal contractors enrolled in E-Verify is available on the USCIS website
- Maintained Valid F-1 status.Student has reported all employers (name and address), any changes of personal name, address (US, residential, mailing, foreign), and interruptions of employment within 10 days of change to the Office of International Education via email to OIE@esf.edu.
- Has not accrued more than 90 days of unemploymentwhile authorized for the initial OPT period. Each day (including weekends) during
the period when OPT authorization begins and ends that the student does not have qualifying
employment counts as a day of unemployment. OPT authorization begins on the employment
start date shown on the student’s EAD.
- The only exception is that periods of up to 10 days between the end of one job and the beginning of the next job are not included in the calculation of time spent unemployed. This 10 day exception also applies to the first 10 days from the start date on the student’s EAD.
- Submit a timely STEM Extension application to USCIS.Application must be received by USCIS prior to the expiration date indicated on the Employment Authorization Document (EAD Card), preferably 90 days prior to the EAD expiration date. Students who timely file their STEM extension applications with USCIS will receive an automatic extension of employment authorization after their current employment authorization expires while the application is pending until adjudication or for 180 days, whatever occurs first.
- Must be registered for E-Verify, the internet-based system operated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA). E-verify is currently free to employers and is available in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Employer must provide E-Verify Company/Client Identification Number to applicant as it must be entered onto the I-765 Application for Employment Authorization.
- As a participant in E-Verify, employers are required to verify all newly hired employees, both U.S. citizens and non-citizen.
- Employer must agree to report termination or departure of OPT employee to the Office of International Education in a written letter or email (OIE@esf.edu).
Requesting STEM Extension I-20
If you meet all of the eligibility criteria indicated above, please submit the documents noted below to OIE:
- Completed STEM Extension Request Formwith Student Responsibility Checklist (Page 2).
- Completed and signed Form I-983
- Completed OPT/STEM OPT Reporting Form
- Copy of Diploma or transcript (must indicate your degree program)
- Copy of EAD card (front & back)
- Copies of all of your previous I-20's including the I-20 recommending OPT
- Copy of passport
- Copy of visa
- Copy of I-94
After reviewing your materials and verifying that you have a qualifying STEM code, OIE will issue an I-20 recommending the 24-month OPT extension and either email or mail it to you. A copy of this I-20 must be included in your STEM Extension application to USCIS. The I-20 issuance does not guarantee that USCIS will approve your request.
Submitting your STEM Extension Application to USCIS
Compile all of the following application materials and File for STEM OPT extension (I-765) online via USCIS online portal:
- Passport style photograph
- Official transcripts or your diploma indicating the program of study you completed your degree in.
- Your current EAD card (front & back) and any previously issued EAD cards related to your current status.
- Your current SEVIS I-20 (with recommended STEM OPT Extension dates)
- All of your previous SEVIS I-20's
- Valid Passport
- You do not need to mail a copy of your I-983 to USCIS.
- Double check your OPT application information and then hit “Submit”.
- Pay the I-765 application fee of $410. Please note once you pay the fee, your application will be considered submitted, and you are not able to make any changes.
- After you submit your application, you can log into your USCIS account to check your application status regularly.
If approved, the employment start date on the new EAD card will be the day immediately following the expiration of the initial OPT employment authorization period.
Responsibilities While on a STEM 24 Month OPT Extension
Once received, submit a copy of your new EAD card to OIE@esf.edu. You must also continue to abide by all regulatory reporting requirements including reporting the following within 10 days of the change to OIE@esf.edu: legal name, residential or mailing address, email address, employer name, employer address.
As per the revised OPT regulations, you are required to submit an OPT/STEM OPT Reporting Form to OIE every 6 months during your STEM OPT extension period (including Cap-Gap relief if applicable) confirming your :
- legal name
- residential address
- email address
- employer name
- employer address
- your current position/title
- your current supervisor
- your supervisor's contact information and
- date you began your current employment
Students who receive a 24-month STEM OPT extension are given an additional 60 days of unemployment for a total of 150 days over their entire post-completion OPT period. As such, you should not accrue an aggregate of 150 days of unemployment over the 36-month OPT authorization period.
Students authorized for an OPT STEM extension must work at least 20 hours per week for an E-Verify employer in a position directly related to their STEM degree program of study. Do not engage in employment with a non-E-verify employer. You may change employers or be employed by multiple employers however during the STEM extension period all employment must be with an E-verify employer.
USCIS and SEVP advise against changing employers while the I-765 is pending, since the I-765 names a specific employer. Students are advised to consult with an attorney regarding the effect of changing to an employer that is not the employer named on the I-765.
SEVP recommends that students maintain evidence — for each job — of the position held, proof of the duration of that position, the job title, contact information for the student’s supervisor or manager and a description of the work. Students on a STEM extension are allowed to volunteer, incidental to their status. This means that volunteer work is allowed but does not count as employment for the purpose of maintaining F-1 status.
Training Plan Form I-983
You must submit a new training plan form I-983 every employer change or employer addition. Please also remember to submit your annual evaluation consistent with the form every 12 months.
Note: Travel Signatures while on STEM OPT are valid for only 6 months.
*** The Office of International Education reserves the right to a one-week time frame for reviewing and processing of any submitted requests. Students should anticipate OIE to take the full week and should expect to submit documents early in order to avoid potential complications. If a student requests the extension of an I-20, OPT, or other time-limited visa status, all application materials and required documentations must be submitted to the Office of International Education for review and approval no later than 30 days in advance of the SEVIS deadline for submission of the application materials. ***