STEM OPT Extension – OPT Work Authorization

The STEM OPT extension allows students with science, technology, engineering, or math degrees to apply for extending their post-completion OPT authorization.

Eligibility – In order to qualify for 24 month OPT extension you must:

  • Be in F-1 status
  • Be currently working in a period of post-completion OPT
  • Have a bachelor’s degree or higher degree in an eligible STEM field. You may be eligible to use previously obtained STEM degree earned in the U.S. for this requirement. However, you must have received your recent degree which may or may not be a STEM-related from a currently accredited Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school in the US, Have received your prior, qualifying STEM degree in the U.S. within 10 years of applying for the STEM OPT extension. Also, it is vital that the qualifying STEM degree must be on the Department of Homeland Security’s STEM Designated Degree Program List at the time you submit your STEM OPT extension application.
  • Work for an employer who meets all the requirements listed below in the STEM OPT Employer Responsibilities section.
  • Be able to complete the I-983 Training Plan with your employer.
STEM OPT Extension

How to apply:

To apply for an extension, you must properly file:

  • Form I-765 with
  • The correct application fee,
  • Your employer’s name as listed in E-Verify, and your employer’s E-Verify Company Identification Number or valid E-Verify Client Company Identification Number.
  • Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, endorsed by your DSO within the last 60 days; and
  • A copy of your STEM degree.

When to Apply

Students with a STEM degree and currently in the 12-month OPT period:

  • It is important that USCIS must receive your STEM OPT extension application before your current 12-month OPT EAD card expiration date.
  • You are required to apply as early as 90 days before your current 12-month OPT EAD card expiration date.
  • It is noteworthy that ISS needs 10 business days for processing your new I-20.
  • You must sufficient time to mail your application to USCIS.
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