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STEM Extension

New 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.

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.

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.

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.

Please note that upon your submission of your application documents to OIS for processing, the entire remote STEM Extension application process from (1) your submission to us, to (2) us reviewing your submitted documents to give you next steps, to (3) you taking action on the documents and mailing the final packet to USCIS, takes approximately three weeks. Therefore, it is important to submit your documents allowing at least three weeks for you to receive them and mail then to USCIS. Do not wait until the last minute to apply, otherwise it is not guaranteed that you will be able to submit the documents within the timeframe for STEM Extension eligibility.

Step 1: Enter Information, Prepare and Submit Documents via Online Remote STEM Extension Submission Portal, and Pay Maintenance of Status Fee

If you are applying for STEM Extension, please access the online remote STEM Extension Portal for document submission here:

Please note that the Portal page below incorrectly displays the title "Graduate Program Application." To all STEM Extension applicants (undergraduates and graduates), please disregard this title. The Portal link is correct, and you will be able to use it to start your STEM Extension Application.

Additionally, if you have ever applied to an academic program before at Fordham, please use that email to create your STEM Extension application account.

Online Remote STEM Extension 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.

Please note that F-1 students must be in the United States to apply and submit an application for the STEM Extension, as listed under the Eligibility Requirements for STEM Extension.
 

Step 2: Wait for OIS to Review Submitted Documents and Give You Next Steps

Once you submit all of your documents via the 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.

OIS advisors will be reviewing applications received as soon as possible. Due to volume, please allow 10-14 business days for an advisor to get back to you with feedback. OIS will notify you by email once your prepared STEM Extension application package is ready, and an advisor will provide next steps.

Please Note: If you are having technical issues with the application portal, please contact OIS regarding this at ois@fordham.edu. The subject line of your email to should list “Your Family Name, Your First Name, Fordham ID Number - STEM Extension Application Issue”.

Any additional questions regarding the STEM Extension application process can be messaged to ois@fordham.edu.

Processing Time

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

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 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.

Evaluations

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.