STEM OPT Extension

The OPT STEM Extension is a one-time, 17-month extension of post-completion OPT (for a total eligibility of up to 29 months) available to eligible F-1 students only.


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).
  • Applying before the end date of your current 12-month OPT expiration date

***Only one 17-month STEM extension is granted per lifetime regardless of additional degrees awarded or level of degrees.

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 120 days/4 months before their OPT EAD end date
  • OPT will be automatically extended for up to 180 days while the STEM OPT application is pending, however, to travel, students must have an unexpired EAD card

How to Apply

  • Request STEM OPT I-20. Please email Jenny Medina to request this. 
  • Prepare and collect all application materials (new I-20 form, 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.