STEM OPT Extension

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 (students with STEM - Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics majors). You must be working for an employer that is part of the Everify system and they must be willing to complete and adhere to the Form I-983. The employment must be regular, paid employment. You must complete a new I-983 if you change employers before we will be able to issue you new I-20 form with the new employer information. 

Please note that the Economics major, the special major of Economics and Mathematics or Statistics and the Psychology major offered here at MHC are not considered STEM majors.

Here is a powerpoint presentation that has information on eligibility and requirements for the OPT STEM Extension

When to apply>

  •  USCIS must receive the completed application by the end date of the student's current 12-month OPT (the end date on the EAD card)
  • 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. Email or mail the 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)
After STEM OPT is Approved 

General Reporting Requirements (Be sure to report any of the following changes to the McCulloch Center within 10 days of the change):

  • Your legal name

  • Your residential or mailing address

  • Your employer’s name and address

  • Any loss of employment

Mandatory Validation Report Requirements While on STEM OPT Extension (submitted every six months)

Beginning from the start date of your STEM OPT Extension, you are required to submit a validation report to the McCulloch Center every six months. You are required to submit this information every 6 months - even if nothing has changed.

6 Month STEM OPT Validation Report Form

Mandatory I-983 Evaluations and Updates (submitted every 12 months)

Any changes to the information in the I-983 training plan must be submitted to the McCulloch Center. This includes, but is not limited to, if your work site, supervisor, role at your company, or company itself changes. Any changes in employer or additional employers require submission of an updated training plan.

Regardless of changes, students are also required to submit self-evaluations every 12 months of the STEM extension. You must complete the Evaluation on Student Progress at 12 months, and the Final Evaluation on Student Progress at 24 months, or the completion of your STEM extension period.

Changes in Employer while on STEM OPT

Contact the McCulloch Center immediately if you have or plan to change employers on STEM Extension. You must fill out a new I-983 Training Plan with your new employer. You cannot begin working for a new employer until you have completed and sent in the new I-983 form and we have issued you a new I-20 form with the new employer information on page 2.

Traveling on STEM OPT

When traveling during your STEM OPT Extension, be sure to use your STEM OPT EAD card. While on a period of STEM OPT you must travel with the following documents:

  • Your STEM OPT Form I-20 form with a valid travel signature (valid for 6 months)

  • Valid, unexpired F-1 visa stamp

  • Passport (valid at least 6 months in to the future)

  • Letter from your E-Verify employer confirming your employment


Also consider traveling with all of your previously issued EAD cards and I-20s

Unemployment while on STEM OPT

You are permitted a total of 150 days of unemployment during the entire 36 months (12 month standard OPT + 24 month extension). If you accrue any more than 150 days of unemployment you are considered out of status, lose the rest of your STEM OPT time, and must leave the U.S.