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
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's recommended that the latest that students should submit their applications to OIS is no less than 30 days before the current OPT ends.
- Download, read and follow the directions on the STEM application form.
- Gather all documents and then make an appointment with OIS advisor to apply for STEM. Advisor will explain where to mail application, fees and passport photos.
- OIS advisor will review the application to ensure it meets all requirements and then issue a new I-20 for STEM extension.
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 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
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 OIS Employment Change Alert Portal.
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 Report Portal.
You must submit to OIS two self-evaluations (page 5 of the Form I-983) within 10 days of the following due dates:
12 months from STEM OPT start date (TOP part of page 5)
24 months from STEM OPT start date (BOTTOM part of Page 5 says "Final Evaluation")
Process for Changing employer when STEM already is approved (EAD received)
Past employers should complete the Final Evaluation section on Page 5 (of I-983) signed by you and employer submit to OIS.
New employers must complete a new I-983 form. Original I-983 must be submitted to OIS along with a new offer letter of employment with E-verify #listed in the letter (or on the STEM application).
You should complete and sign a new STEM application form.
Make an appointment and turn in all documents to OIS advisor. Or if you can not come to the office, you may scan all documents to an OIS advisor directly. Once documents are reviewed and OK by OIS, you will be contacted. OIS will update in SEVIS your employment end date and add the new STEM employer and print out an updated I-20 for your records. You will notified when it's ready.