STEM OPT Extension
A 24-month STEM OPT extension is available to international students who earned a qualifying science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degree as determined by the Department of Homeland Security. Students must be currently participating in regular post-completion OPT to be eligible to apply for a STEM OPT extension.
Am I eligible? – all of the following criteria must be met:
- You are currently participating in regular post-completion OPT.
- You have a degree in an eligible STEM field.
- You will pursue your STEM OPT extension through an employer that is enrolled in USCIS’s E-Verify employment eligibility verification program.
- Your STEM OPT employer will provide you with formal training and learning objectives.
- You will work a minimum of 20 hours per week.
How to Apply
- Complete and sign Form I-983, “Training Plan for STEM OPT Students” with your prospective employer.
- Submit the completed Form I-983 to International Student Services staff for review. They will keep this form in your student record and issue you a new Form I-20 that shows their recommendation for this training opportunity.
- Apply for work authorization by filing Form I-765 and supporting documents with USCIS and paying the required filing fee.
- While your 24-month extension petition is pending, you may continue to work on your expired EAD card up to 180 days.
Student Reporting Requirements on STEM OPT
- Validating SEVIS information – every 6 months STEM OPT students must work with ISS to confirm that their SEVIS record accurately reflects the following information:
- Legal name
- Residential or mailing address
- Employer name and address
- Status of current employment
Note: students must report changes to name, address, employer and loss of employment to ISS within 10 days of any change.
- Annual Self-Evaluations – STEM OPT students must do an annual self-evaluation about the progress of their training experience. The student and their employer must sign the self-evaluation before the student submits it to ISS to be added to the student’s record.
- Material Changes to the Form I-983 Training Plan – STEM OPT students must notify ISS of material changes or deviations from the original Form I-983, including, but not limited to:
- Any change of the employer’s Employer Identification Number (EIN).
- Any reduction in student compensation that is not tied to a reduction in hours worked.
- Any significant decrease in hours per week that a student engages in a STEM training opportunity.
- Changes to the employer’s commitments or student’s learning objectives as documented on the Form I-983.
Note: as long as the STEM OPT student and employer meet the regulatory requirements and the modified Form I-983 meets the specified requirements, the student’s employment authorization will not cease based on a change to the training plan.
- Changing Employers – when a STEM OPT student changes employers, the new employer must be enrolled in E-Verify before the student begins to work for pay. The student must submit a new Form I-983 to ISS within 10 days of starting the new practical training opportunity. In cases where the period of time between employers is longer than 10 days, the student must first report the loss of employment to ISS and later submit a new Form I-983.
- Unemployment – STEM OPT students must report the termination of their employment within 10 days of the event. STEM OPT students are allowed an additional 60 days of unemployment beyond the 90 days allowed during the initial period of post-completion OPT.