STEM Extension OPT

This extension of the post-completion OPT period for students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

Please note that the STEM Extention OPT carries additional visa restriction and reporting requirements. Review these restrictions and requirements.

Are you eligible?

  • You must have earned a degree in a field included on the STEM Designated Degree Program List (check with your IO advisor)
  • You must currently be on a period of post-completion OPT based on a STEM degree
  • You must have a valid EAD card
  • You must be working for an employer that is enrolled in the Department of Homeland Security’s E-Verify program. You may find out if your employer is in the E-Verify system on the USCIS website or ask your Human Resources Office (HR)

How to apply

STEM Extension OPT Timeline

1. Ensure your degree program is eligible for STEM.

Contact your IO advisor before proceeding with the application.

2. Report any/all employment during your 12-month period.

Complete the OPT Reporting Survey BEFORE applying for the STEM extension.

3. Gather your application materials.

Refer to the checklist below to see a complete list of application materials.

Tips:

  • See the USCIS website for the most up-to-date version of Form I-765. A sample I-765 is also available for reference.
  • You should plan for USCIS to receive your STEM extension by the end of the first 12 months of OPT.
  • If you are not in the Chicago area, then please coordinate your STEM application with your IO advisor via email.

4. Submit your complete application to the IO.

Bring in or send your application documents to your IO advisor in a manner agreed on by your advisor.

5. Pick up your materials from IO and prepare your application for USCIS.

  • Pick-up your new I-20 with the OPT recommendation from the IO. If you are not in the Chicago area, send a scanned copy of the Document Mailing Request Form, so that we can send the new I-20 to you.
  • You will receive a packet containing two I-20's, one to keep and one to send to USCIS with your OPT application. Sign page 1 of each I-20.
  • Make a photocopy of your ENTIRE OPT application.

6. Mail your application to USCIS.

Send your application to either the Phoenix or Dallas USCIS office, depending on your current U.S. state of residence.

You will receive a receipt notice in the mail 2-3 weeks after filing the application. You may track the progress of your application on the USCIS website. Please note that USCIS does not regularly update the steps and most students see their status as 'initial review' until it jumps to 'card production'

7. Wait to receive EAD card in the mail.

Once approved, you will receive a new EAD card that covers the extension of work authorization.

Application materials checklist

The following items need to be reviewed by the IO. Items marked with an asterisk also need to be submitted to USCIS:

  1. Employment verification letter*
  2. Completed form I-765 (view a sample)*
  3. Check or Money Order made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (check USCIS for current fee)*
  4. Copy of current EAD Card (front and back)*
  5. Copy of I-20 issued for first period (12 months or less) of Optional Practical Training*
  6. Copy of I-94 Record*
  7. Copy of Passport Bio Page*
  8. Copy of F-1 visa stamp*
  9. Two identical passport style (2" x 2") color photographs taken within the last 30 days*
  10. Copy of transcript or diploma reflecting conferred degree/major. Registrar's Office*
  11. Employer Verification of Compliance form
  12. Optional Practical Training 17 Month STEM Extension form
After all documents are reviewed, you will receive a Extension OPT Recommended I-20 signed by International Advisor. This needs to be submitted to the USCIS along with the above documents.