General Information and Requirements
F-1 students who have completed bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in certain STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields may be eligible for an additional 24-month STEM extension of post-completion OPT (for a total eligibility of up to 36 months). The 24-month Stem Extension OPT is approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
If you believe your area of study is classified as a STEM field, you can contact an OIS advisor via email and OIS will verify your eligibility.
- Must currently be on post-completion OPT and working for a U.S. employer in a job related to your major area of study
- Verified completion of a degree on the STEM Designated Degree Programs List.
- Job offer must be from an E-verify employer and employment is directly related to field of study. Volunteering and self-employment will not qualify
- Must file STEM application before current OPT ends
- You agree to report to OIS any termination of your employment
Please also note that F-1 students must be in the United States to apply and submit an application for the STEM Extension.
OPT Maintenance of Status Fee
Updated February 11, 2020
During your studies as an F-1 student at Fordham University, you received a fee $120 per year for the purposes of maintaining your status, funding programming and providing additional staffing at OIS. Once you complete your studies, such charges stop, but, as you know, if you apply for OPT after graduation you remain under our F-1 sponsorship and continually receive our services. Currently at OIS, we serve more F-1 students receiving OPT benefits than our entire current international undergraduate population.
As a consequence of this increased demand for services, starting February 18, 2020, we will introduce a new OPT Maintenance of Status Fee to enhance our staff and services responding to the great expansion of our international population and provide advising to you in a complex and dynamic regulatory environment. As of February 18, 2020, OIS will implement this OPT Maintenance of Status Fee at the following rates:
- $120 for at the time of application for OPT
- $180 for STEM OPT at the time of a requested STEM extension
Thank you for your understanding and support.
How to Apply for STEM Extension:
The earliest that students can apply is 90 days before the end of the current OPT. OIS will not honor an application submitted to our office any sooner than 90 days before the end of the current OPT.
It is recommended that the latest that students should submit their applications to OIS is no less than 30 days before the current OPT ends.
If you are applying for STEM extension, please access the online STEM Extension Application Portal for document submission.
Please note that the Portal page below incorrectly displays the title "Graduate Program Application." To all OPT applicants (undergraduates and graduates), please disregard this title. The Portal link is correct, and you will be able to use it to start your OPT Application.
To access the OPT Portal: Please sign into your Fordham email, otherwise you will not be able to access the Portal.
STEM Extension Application Portal
You will be prompted to enter pertinent information for your application and submit the necessary documents for us to review. You will be able to save your application progress and continue the application if you need to finish at a later time.
OIS advisors will be reviewing and handling these cases as soon as possible. Your application documents must be complete for us to begin action on your case, so please make sure to submit all requested documents in the application portal.
Wait for OIS to Review Submitted Documents and Give You Next Steps.
Once you submit all of your documents via the OPT Portal and pay the fee, you will receive a message from the application platform via email saying that you have finished the document submission process. Due to volume, please allow 10 business days for an advisor to get back to you with feedback.
OIS will notify you via email once your "STEM Extension Application Package" is available online. The Package will include:
- Your New I-20 with STEM Extension Recommendation.
- A guide for filing Form I-765 online with USCIS.
Any additional questions or technical issues regarding the OPT application process can be messaged to [email protected].
Along with the New I-20 with STEM Extension recommendation, you will receive detailed instructions for filing Form I-765 online with USCIS.
You must file Form I-765 with USCIS before your current OPT period expires and within 60 days of the date OIS recommended the post-completion OPT in SEVIS.
After Filing Form I-765 with USCIS:
The employment authorization for approved STEM OPT begins on the day after the post-completion OPT expires and ends 24 months later, regardless of the date the extension is actually approved by USCIS. The authorization is in the form of an Employment Authorization Document from USCIS.
Working While the Application is Pending
A student who has filed a timely application for the STEM OPT extension may continue to work while the application is pending, until a final decision is made on the application by USCIS or it has been pending 180 days with USCIS, whichever comes first.
Travel While on Approved STEM Extension
To re-enter the U.S. while on STEM you should have the following documents with you:
- STEM extension I-20 with page 3 endorsed for travel; signature should not be less than 6 months old
- Valid F-1 visa
- Valid passport
- STEM extension EAD card
- Job offer letter (recommended not required)
Reporting Requirements on STEM
Review the important STEM Reporting Requirements
To maintain F-1 status while on STEM extension, you agree to report to OIS within 10 days any of the following changes:
- Current job's Employer Identification Number (EIN)
- Name of current employer
- Employer's address
- Job title
- Employer end date
- You are ending your current job and want to ADD a new employer
- Current employer's name, address or phone number
You may submit these STEM OPT employment changes by going to the STEM Employment Change Form.
You also agree to validate directly to an OIS Advisor every 6 months while on STEM extension the following information: your current employer name/address and/or loss of employment, and your current local U.S address. You may submit these STEM OPT validation reports and/or evaluations by going to our STEM OPT Employment Validation Form.