The OPT STEM Extension is a 24 month extension of post-completion OPT (for a total eligibility of up to 36 months) available to eligible F-1 students only.
These rules go into effect on May 10, 2016 and replaces the 17 month extension rules.
Here is the website for the Department of Homeland Security's STEM OPT Hub that has lots of information on the new STEM OPT regulations.
A student must be:
- A recipient of a U.S. Bachelor’s, Master’s, and/or Doctoral degree in a STEM designated degree program (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) as specified on your I-20 form
- Currently authorized for OPT and have not exceeded 90 days of unemployment
- Employed or have an offer letter related to the student's field of study from an employer who is participating in the USCIS E-Verify program (see information below)
- Be working for paid employment (can not be volunteer or unpaid employment)
- Applying before the end date of your current 12-month OPT expiration date
***One additional 24 month STEM extension may be granted if you go on to receive a higher degree
What is E-Verify?
E-Verify is an Internet based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA) that allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees. A list of employers who have self-reported participation in E-Verify is maintained by USCIS but students are advised to confirm with employers directly regarding eligibility. An employer's participation in E-Verify is voluntary and is currently free to employers. If your company wants to participate in E-Verify, see the DHS web site.
When to apply
- USCIS must receive the completed application by the end date of the student's current 12-month OPT
- Students may apply as early as 90 before their OPT EAD end date
- OPT will be automatically extended for up to 150 days while the STEM OPT application is pending, however, to travel, students must have an unexpired EAD card
How to Apply
- Have employer complete an I-983 Form. Mail completed form to Jenny Medina
- Complete the STEM OPT Request form . We will need this completed to process your new STEM extension request I-20 form
- Prepare and collect all application materials (new I-20 form, official transcript showing STEM field, copies of immigration documents, passport, ead card, I-94)
- Mail completed application to USCIS before the end date of the current 12-month EAD (we will mail you instructions on what to send in with your new I-20 form)