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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

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.

Step 1: Pay the STEM Extension Maintenance of Status Fee

Before proceeding with preparing your documents, you must pay the STEM Extension Maintenance of Status Fee.

For a tutorial on how to pay the STEM Extension Maintenance of Status fee, please click here.

GBA Maintenance of Status Fee for OPT STEM Extension Spring 2020
Non GBA Maintenance of Status Fee for OPT STEM Extension Spring 2020

It is very important that you complete this step first, otherwise we will be unable to process your application for you.

Please print and keep a copy of your STEM Extension Fee Confirmation page available for reference, and bring it with you when you come to OIS for an appointment to prepare your application.

Step 2: Follow the STEM Extension Application Guidelines in the Payment Confirmation Email from OIS

Upon your payment, you should receive a Payment Confirmation email from ois@fordham.edu with the subject line “Thank You for Paying Your STEM Extension Maintenance of Status Fee & Next Steps."

Download and read our STEM Extension application guidelines that you will receive in the Payment Confirmation email thoroughly.

Step 3: Make an Appointment with an OIS Advisor & Prepare Documents

Gather all documents according to the STEM Extension application guidelines, and then make an appointment with an OIS advisor to apply for STEM.

The OIS advisor will review the application to ensure it meets all requirements and then issue a new I-20 for STEM extension.

The advisor will explain where to mail application, fees and passport photos.

Please Note: If you are paying the STEM Extension Maintenance of Status Fee through a different method or are having trouble with payment, 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 Maintenance of Status Fee 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.