STEM OPT Extensions for F-1 Students

You are eligible to apply for a 24-month STEM OPT extension if:

  • You currently hold F-1 status;
  • You are participating in standard post-completion OPT;
  • You have a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in a designated STEM field conferred by an accredited, SEVP-approved US college or university;
  • Your STEM OPT employer is registered in E-Verify and agrees to the USCIS STEM OPT employer reporting requirements; and,
  • Your STEM OPT job will be a full-time (21 or more hours per week), paid position related to your STEM degree and you will be reporting to an on-site local supervisor in the U.S. 

You can apply for an additional STEM OPT extension for a higher degree, provided you have not already used STEM OPT at a higher level than your previously earned STEM degree.

You may also apply for STEM OPT based on a previously earned STEM degree conferred by an SEVP-approved, accredited U.S. college or university within the past 10 years.  You may have earned the previous STEM degree while in a status other than F-1 such as H-4, L-2, etc.

How to apply

1. View the STEM OPT Online Workshop:

STEM_OPT_OnlineWorkshop

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Prepare your I-983 Training Plan and a draft of your I-765 application.

3. Log in to ISSS Link and complete the STEM OPT Extension Request e-form and upload your completed I-983 Training Plan You may also upload a draft of your I-765.

4. Receive your STEM OPT I-20 from ISSS. The updated I-20 may be picked up at the ISSS office or mailed to you. 

Note: USCIS must receive your I-765 application for STEM OPT extension within 60 days of the date your STEM OPT I-20 was issued.

5. Gather the required materials listed below and assemble your I-765 application packet.

- Payment for the I-765 application filing fee payable to US DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
- Completed Form I-765
- Copy of your signed STEM OPT I-20
Official transcript of your STEM-eligible degree
- Copy of previous EADs (front and back)
- Copy of your current I-94
- Copy of the ID page of your valid passport
- Copy of your F-1 visa (except citizens of Canada and Bermuda)
- Copies of all previous I-20s
Form G-1145 (optional, but recommended)

 

6. Mail your I-765 application packet to USCIS for processing.

Note: USCIS will mail notifications of receipt and approval and your EAD card for STEM OPT to the mailing address you enter on your I-765 application form. Be sure the address you enter will be valid at least 4 months into the future from the date USCIS receives your I-765 application packet.

 

Reporting requirements

Please review these reporting requirements carefully.  They are not the same as the requirements for your period of standard post-completion OPT.

During your 24-month STEM OPT extension, you must report and/or submit:

  • Any changes to the following information within 10 calendar days by submitting the OPT Employer Update e-form in ISSS Link:
    • Legal name
    • Immigration status
    • Change of employer (will require a new I-983 training plan) or work address
    • Change of supervisor
    • Adding a new employer (will require a I-983 training plan for the new employer)
  • Any of the following within 5 business days by submitting the OPT Employer Update e-form in ISSS Link:
    • End of employment (voluntary or involuntary)
    • Any unapproved absence from work for five consecutive business days
  • Regular validation and evaluations of your STEM OPT employment by completing the "STEM OPT Validation and Reporting" e-form in ISSS Link
    • Validation of employment and residential address every six months
    • The 12-month evaluation section of your I-983 (refer to last two pages of I-983)
    • The final evaluation section of your I-983
  • A revised or new I-983 whenever applicable by submitting the STEM Material Changes e-form in ISSS Link.
  • Employer Noncompliance – If you believe that your STEM OPT employer is not complying with the terms and conditions of the 24-month STEM OPT extension regulations, the Form I-983 instructions, and the completed Form I-983 on file with ISSS, the you may:
  • Contact the Student and Exchange Visitor Program at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by following the instructions found on ICE.gov.
  • Report violations through this Homeland Security Investigations tip submission form.
  • The U.S. Department of Homeland Security advises that students should leave non-compliant employers and report their unemployment to their DSOs. A period of student unemployment, caused by an employer’s failure to comply with program requirements, on its own will not affect your status so long as you report changes in employment status and adhere to the overall unemployment limits.

Your employer must report and/or submit:

  • Any voluntary or involuntary end to your employment within 5 business days by emailing isss@emory.edu
  • Any unapproved absence from work for five consecutive business days within 5 business days by emailing isss@emory.edu
  • If there are any changes in your employment, an amended I-983 attesting that they are offering a paid job for a minimum of 20 hours/week and that they have sufficient resources and training personnel to make this job a qualified training opportunity. They must also attest that the terms and conditions of your training (e.g. duties, wage, hours, etc.) are commensurate to similarly situated US workers and that the student will not replace full- or part-time, temporary or permanent US workers. Learn more >>