STEM Extension for OPT

F-1 Students with majors in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) may be eligible for an extension of their post-completion OPT. Currently, an extension of 17 months may be applied for by the student. On March 11, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security announced that it will be increasing the extension available to students to 24 months. This ruling will go into effect May 10, 2016 and may be applied for at that time. Students may be approved for the 24 month STEM extension only twice in a lifetime, once at the undergraduate level and once at the graduate level. If the student is already in a 17 month STEM extension OPT period, they may apply for an additional seven months to be added (thus increasing their OPT to the new 24 month extension period).

Eligibility

In order to be eligible for the STEM extension, you must:

  • Currently be on a valid period of post-completion OPT for a STEM designated degree
  •  Have had fewer than 90 days of unemployment while on OPT
  • Work for or have a job offer from an employer that is enrolled in E-Verify an has met all of the STEM OPT Reporting Requirements
  • Be able to submit the I-765 Form up to 90 days before your current OPT authorization expires, and within 60 days of being recommended by your DSO in SEVIS
  • Check in with your DSO every six months and inform the DSO within ten days of any of the following changes:
    • Change in address or contact information
    • Change in employer's address or contact information by the submission of a new I-983 form
    • Any change in employment status

Application Process

In order to apply, you will need to contact your DSO and prepare the following:

  • A Training Plan Form I-983 completed by both you and your employer
  • A completed I-765 Form 
  • A check or money order for $380, payable to the Department of Homeland Security
  • Two passport photographs that meet the requirements stipulated by the Bureau of Consular Affairs.
  • A copy of the front and back of your current OPT card
  • Copies of all your previous I-20s
    • After contacting your DSO, you will also need to receive a copy of your new I-20 showing the recommendation for OPT extension.
  • Evidence that your degree meets the STEM degree/major requirements
  • Either your official transcript or a copy of your diploma
  • A copy of your current I-94
  • A copy of your passport identity page and any renewal pages

While the application is pending, you may continue to work for up to 180 days. If you have any questions about the STEM extension for OPT or need any help during the application process, please contact the Diversity Center.

Once approved for STEM OPT,  you are required to submit information to your DSO in order to update your SEVIS record.  This updating should take place every 6 months.

STEM OPT Update