STEM OPT Extension
Use the button below to apply for your STEM OPT Extension.
While on an approved STEM OPT program, students must submit a "Validation Report" every 6 months starting from the date the OPT extension begins and ending when your F-1 status or the extension ends, whichever is first. Use the button below to update your employment information while on an approved STEM OPT extension.
Frequently Asked Questions
- The STEM OPT extension is a 24-month period of temporary training that directly relates to an F-1 student's program of study in an approved STEM field. On May 10, 2016, this extension effectively replaced the previous 17-month STEM OPT extension.
- Eligible F-1 students with STEM degrees who finish their program of study and participate in an initial period of regular post-completion OPT (often for 12 months) have the option to apply for a STEM OPT extension. Students may not apply for STEM OPT extensions during the 60-day grace period following an initial period of regular post-completion OPT.
- F-1 students who are currently on post completion OPT and have completed a program that is compiled by the Department of Homeland Security as a STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math) program based on the U.S Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics ( NCES), are eligible to apply for the 24-month STEM OPT extension
- F-1 students currently on Post completion OPT on a non-STEM degree may be eligible to use a previous STEM degree from the U.S to apply for STEM OPT extension. For example, a student currently on post completion OPT on a master’s degree in business administration but previously received a bachelor’s degree in engineering may apply for STEM OPT based on the bachelor’s degree provided it is from an accredited and SEVP- certified school.
- F-1 students who enroll in a new academic program in the future to earn another qualifying STEM degree at a higher educational level may be eligible for one additional 24-month STEM OPT extension. For example, a student who received STEM OPT based on a bachelor’s degree in engineering and later earns a master’s degree in engineering, may apply for an additional 24-month STEM OPT extension based on the master’s degree
- No sooner than 90 days before your current OPT is about to expire. In addition, USCIS must receive the application prior to the expiration date on your OPT EAD.
- The employment authorization document (EAD) can take 90 days or more to be approved. You may check your case status via https://www.uscis.gov/ using your receipt number from your I-797 notice of action you will receive once USCIS receives your STEM OPT application.
- NO. F-1 students are not eligible to apply for STEM extension once they enter the 60-day grace period.
- Yes, your EAD is considered extended for up to 180 days while your STEM OPT extension application is pending with USCIS.
- You are required to submit a form I-983 to ensure that you are receiving the academic and training benefits of your STEM OPT extension. A new form must be submitted every time a student changes employers or makes material changes to their current training plan. In addition, you and your employer need to sign your self-evaluation on annual basis while on STEM OPT extension.
- Once you receive a recommendation I-20 to pursue STEM. You will need to submit I-765 form along with all required documents to USCIS keeping in mind the STEM application must be received by USCIS no later than the expiration date on the OPT EAD card. DO NOT SEND FORM I-983 TO USCIS. This form is submitted to the DSO who must file it on the student’s record.
- STEM OPT students must report their employment to their DSOs every six months. As part of such reporting, STEM OPT students must confirm the validity of their Student and Exchange Visitor Information System information, including:
- Legal name.
- Employer name and address.
- Status of current employment/practical training experience.
- STEM OPT students are also required to submit the I-983 training plan evaluation every 12 months to the DSO.
- DHS allows STEM OPT students an additional 60 days of unemployment during the 24-month STEM OPT extension period.
- Notify the DSO by providing the I-983 evaluation from previous employer with the end date of employment and provide a new I-983 for the new employment. Must be reported within 10 days of employment changes.