24-MONTH STEM OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING EXTENSION
Definition, purpose, and A Guide to Applying for STEM OPT
F–1 students who have graduated in certain fields of study may be eligible for 24–month additional period of STEM OPT employment authorization.
To be eligible for STEM OPT:
- you must Have a US accredited degree in a designated STEM field.
- Have a paid job offer that meets the following requirements:
- Employer enrolled in the USCIS E-Verify program.
- Job offers at least 20 hours of work per week.
- Job is a paid position.
- Be able to complete the I-983 Training Plan with your employer
For more information on STEM OPT eligibility, visit Study in the States. Learn the application process and find helpful resources regarding the STEM OPT extension at the Study in the States STEM OPT Hub. The Hub provides valuable information for both F–1 students and employers.
You cannot apply once your 12-month OPT expires or during the 60-day grace period.
We recommend you begin reviewing the application process and collecting documents four months before your current period of OPT ends. You may apply for STEM OPT up to 90 days before current OPT expires.
APPLICATION PROCESS FOR OPT STEM EXTENSION – Follow the steps below:
STEP 1: Determine if you are eligible for the STEM OPT extension and ensure you have been maintaining F-1 status
In general, if you are on an initial 12-month period of post-completion Optional Practical Training, received a degree in the U.S. in a STEM field and are working for an E-Verify employer, you should be eligible for the STEM OPT extension. For more information on eligibility, please see the links below.
For more information on eligibility, please visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) approved STEM Designated Degree Programs list and the DHS Information on the E–Verify program.
To ensure you have been maintaining F-1 status, confirm that your 12-month OPT information up-to-date by checking the Student and Exchange Visitor Program – the SEVP Portal. If anything is out of date please update the SEVP portal . You can find more information on OPT reporting by visiting the SEVP Portal OPT Reporting page.
STEP 2: Prepare the following documents to submit /emailed to the ISSO
Submit on line:
- The opt Request Form
- The OPT Disclaimer Form (via the OPT request form above, must be hand-signed, NO ELECTRONIC SIGN)
Submit via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
- The draft electronic Form I-765- Application for Employment Authorization
- The I-983, TRAINING PLAN FOR STEM OPT STUDENTS with your employer.
- Employment Verification Letter
- Your Diploma.
1&2 The opt Request Form and the disclaimer.Visit our website and click the ISS Virtual Office Assistant to access the The Optional Practical Training Request Form and the OPT Disclaimer Form
The form must be completed by the student applying for STEM OPT, but it is not
submitted to USCIS with the OPT application.
Instead, the Office of International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) will use the form to update the student’s SEVIS record with their expected completion date and to issue an updated Form I–20. This form also allows you to upload the hand–signed disclaimer.
Please refer to the Instruction to here: Request Forms Instructions for further details.
3. Compete and email The electronic draft version of the I-765 Form -on-line Application for Employment Authorization.
- The most important part of an application for Optional Practical Training (OPT) is Form I–765. You must receive requested OPT STEM I-20 signed from your Designated School Official (DSO) before submitting your online OPT STEM Extension application. Your International Student Advisor in the Office of International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) will review your draft I–765 to ensure its completeness and accuracy.
- Follow this link for detailed instructions and step-by-step instructionsfor completing Form I-765 and saving it to your computer.
- Detailed instructions for completing the I-765 are also available through the USCIS website. Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization
- The application is fundamentally the same as when you made your initial OPT application except the for STEM extension, select STEM OPT C (3)(C)
4. Complete and Email us the I-983, TRAINING PLAN FOR STEM OPT STUDENTS
- Complete the I-983with your employer.
For more information about the I983 you can review the following:
Overview of the Form I-983
Overview of the Form I-983 for students
Overview of the Form I-983 for employers
Instructions for Completing the Form I-983
- You must submit the completed I-983 Training Plan to the Office of International Students before our office can recommend you for the STEM OPT extension.
- Our “SEVIS School Code” is NYC214F00812015.
- The “Qualifying Major and Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) Code” can be found in the “PROGRAM OF STUDY” section of the Form I-20 under “MAJOR 1” or “MAJOR 2.”
5. Obtain an Employment Verification Letter.
Get an employment verification letter from your employer on their letterhead. It should include the company‘s address, job description, salary, start date, hours/week, E–Verify name and number, and your supervisor‘s name, title, email and phone number.
STEP 3: Obtain the DSO’s STEM OPT Extension Recommendation and an Updated Form I-20.
Our office‘s main role in the STEM OPT extension application process is to certify that the Form I–983 Training Plan is complete and signed, to recommend the STEM OPT extension in the SEVIS system, and to issue an updated Form I–20 with the STEM OPT extension request. You must wait for this I-20 before you can complete your STEM OPT extension (I-765 Form) online.
STEP 4: Gather documents and complete your online application.
Gather and scan the following information on your PC
- JPG, JPEG, or PNG of 2 inch by 2-inch passport style photo
- PDF of your most recent I-94
- PDF Your passport and
- PDF copy of all previous EADs (I-766).
- PDFs of all previously CPT or OPT endorsed I-20s
- PDF of Post-OPT endorsed I-20- This is the new OPTSTEM -recommended I-20
- Your Graduate Center
- Fee Payment
Organize and complete Your On- Line Application.
Review all of the information you have provided so far, and then click to submit your I- 765 online application.
You may follow the step by step instruction here
- Do not send the I-983, Training Plan to USCIS; we keep it in our
- Your application cannot be received by the USCIS more than 90 days prior to the expiration of your initial period Optional Practical Training.
- Your application must be received by the USCIS prior to the expiration of your current period of Optional Practical Training.
- Your application must be received by the USCIS within 30 days of the date that our office makes the STEM OPT extension recommendation and issues the updated Form I-20.
- If you move and change your address before receiving your STEM OPT approval, your EAD may not be Inform our office of your new address and we will update your SEVIS record.
After Submitting Application to USCIS
- The student will receive a paper Receipt Notice within two weeks to one month of submitting the The Receipt Notice will give a case number and a Received Date for the application. Follow the instructions to check USCIS website using Receipt Number. check your case status with your receipt number at www.uscis.gov.
– Verify that your name and mailing address are correct on the receipt
– When the status of your case shows online “Approved”, wait for a few days to receive the EAD card
- USCIS processing time is between 60 and 120 days after the Received Date of the application. Often processing times reach or exceed 90 days, so we recommend applying as early as Please visit the USCIS Processing Times website for the most up-to-date processing times for OPT/STEM applications.
- If you have an OPT/STEM application that has been pending for longer than the normal processing time, please contact ISSO and submit a case inquiry on the USCIS website.
- The ISSO does not recommend traveling between the completion date and the approval of the OPT STEM application.
- If you receive a “Request for Evidence” (RFE), returned application, or denied application, notify ISS immediately. Contact ISSO immediately. It may be necessary for ISSO to provide a new I-20 before you can respond to the USCIS inquiry or resubmit your STEM OPT application.
After Approval of your STEM OPT
- Make a photocopy of the Approval Notice and EAD (both front and back) for your records and keep your EAD in a secure location.
- Once you have received approval for your STEM OPT,
Log in to the SEVP Portal https://sevp.ice.gov/opt to update your details
Don‘t forget to note the deadlines which are 30 days before the validation report is due. You‘ll also receive an email reminder from SEVP. Make sure to mark your calendar so that you can report to your ISSO on time.
- Familiarize yourself with the reporting requirements for STEM OPT by visiting our ISS VIRTUAL Assistant Page. Click on the STEM OPT reporting section and submit the necessary reports on time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Welcome to our STEM OPT Extension Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) webpage. Here are the answers to some of the most common questions we receive:
Where can I find my CIP code?
The CIP code is printed next to your major on page one of your I-20. The code is 6 digits long (xx.xxxx). Once you find your code, you can check the eligible CIP codes for the STEM extension on the SEVP website.
If I have a dual major, can I qualify for the 24-month extension based on one of the degree programs?
Yes, if one of the degrees is on the STEM Designated Degree Program List and your work is related to your STEM degree.
Can I qualify for the 24-month extension based on my minor or
Can I apply for STEM OPT after OPT expires?
You cannot apply once your 12-month OPT expires or during the 60-day grace period
Can I work with an expired EAD while my STEM extension is pending?
Yes. Your work authorization is automatically extended for up to 180 days while the 24-month STEM extension application is pending.
When does my 24-month extension of OPT start?
If you have properly filed for a 24-month STEM extension, the period of extension starts the day after the expiration of your original OPT period.
I am on the STEM extension and I cannot edit my employment in the SEVP Portal, how do I update my information?
While on the STEM extension, only the DSO can update your employment information and the DSO is required to review updates to your I-983 before making any changes. You must fill the STEM OPT Reporting Form to update your employment and email QC-ISSO the updated I-983 when necessary. You can still update your physical address in the SEVP Portal while on STEM OPT.
Can I change employers while the STEM extension is pending?
Yes, you can change employers while your 24-month STEM OPT extension application is pending with USCIS. If you change employers, report the change to the STEM OPT Reporting Form and email us with explanation that your STEM OPT extension application is still pending with USCIS. Regulations state that employment changes must be reported within 10 days.
What should I do if I leave a job during my STEM OPT period?
What should I do if I change employers during my STEM OPT?
If you switch employers, complete STEM OPT Reporting Form. and submit a new I-983 signed by your new employer. Additionally, remember to update the form if you have any changes to your residential address, email, or phone number.
Note: In case you have multiple events to report at the same time, such as leaving one employer and starting a new job, you should submit the form twice, providing specific details and uploading any relevant documents for each event.
Can an F-1 student on post-completion OPT/STEM OPT travel outside the US ?
In general, an F-1 student on post-completion OPT may travel outside the United States temporarily and be readmitted to resume F-1 status and employment for the remainder of the period authorized on his or her EAD card. The student must not have exceeded the maximum OPT unemployment or OPT STEM Extension unemployment time.
Please review all travel and re-entry information on the main Travel and Re-Entry page.
WARNING: Re-entering the United States in a status other than F-1 (such as a tourist) will invalidate F-1 status and OPT authorization.
What documents are needed to travel on post-completion OPT/STEM OPT travel outside the US ?
The necessary documents include a valid passport with an unexpired F-1 visa stamp, a signed Form I-20, an unexpired EAD card, and an employer verification letter.
Can a student travel abroad while their post-completion OPT/STEM OPT application is being pending?
You may travel abroad while your OPT application is being processed. However, USCIS does not recommend it due to the risks that may be associated with it:
- USCIS sometimes returns, denies, or sends a request for more information regarding OPT applications. These requests are sent by postal mail, so it might be difficult for you to respond if you are not inside the U.S. It is your application, so ISS does not have the authority to respond for you.
- In addition, you must have proof of employment and your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in order to reenter the U.S. If the OPT application is approved while you are abroad and you do not have your EAD or proof of employment, it could put your return to the U.S. in jeopardy.
Please review all travel and re-entry information on the main Travel and Re-Entry page.
- These directions are meant to help you in completing your application but should not be considered legal advice. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) ultimately provides the decision on your OPT It is your responsibility, as the OPT applicant, to ensure that your OPT application is accurate and complete before you submit it to the US government. Incomplete applications could result in a delay in processing time or denial. QC in no event shall be held liable for any delay, denial, or mistake on your OPT application.