OPT STEM Extension


Applying for the OPT STEM Extension

The application for the 24-month STEM extension to your standard post-completion OPT is filed in the same way as the standard OPT with the following minor differences.

  • You will need to email the ISS Office the OPT Employer Report and the I-983 Training Plan in order to request the Form I-20 for the OPT STEM Extension application.
  • On the application form (I-765) (pdf) mark the box indicating that you are applying for renewal of your employment authorization.
  • On section 3, record the address you would like your receipt notice and EAD to be mailed to.  This must be a U.S. address. It should be an address that you can receive mail at now as well as in the next 3 to 4 months.  Mail from USCIS cannot be forwarded so please ensure an accurate address.  If you use a friend or family member’s address, ensure that you can receive mail at this address.  Check the I-765 instructions (pdf) to see which Service Center should receive your application.  See the USCIS Web site for filing addresses.
  • Mark the box for “yes” in response to the question in box 11, include the Service Center to which you sent your standard OPT application and the dates of your current EAD, and write “granted” on the Results line.
  • You are still considered to be a Student as long as you are on OPT.
  • The code for the STEM extension in section 16 is (c)(3)(C).
  • In section 17 you must list your STEM major (you must also send a copy of your diploma or transcript showing that you graduated with a STEM major), your employer’s name as listed in E-Verify, and your Employer’s E-verify number.(There is no public list of employers registered with E-verify. You must work with the employer to find out if they are registered and in good standing with E-Verify.)
  • The ISS Office will issue you the Form I-20 to send with this application. In order to do so, we will need the OPT Employer Report and the I-983 Training Plan.  Please remember, this can take approximately 2 weeks to process your new I-20.

Prepare all the documents, the new I-20, photos, check, etc. required for the OPT application, and send them to the appropriate Service Center prior to the expiration date on your current EAD. See the USCIS website for filing addresses. Once the application is received, if there are no requests for additional evidence or information, your extension is automatic and is effective the very next day after your current authorization expires. You do not have to await the arrival of your new EAD in order to continue working for up to 180 days. If 120 days pass, and you do not receive your new EAD, please contact us so that we can assist you in following up with the Service Center.

While you are participating in the 24-month STEM extension, you will also be required to make periodic reports. Federal immigration regulations require that STEM OPT recipients make a validation report to the PDSO/DSO every six months starting from the date the 24-month extension begins and ending when the student’s F-1 status ends, the student changes educational levels at the same school, the student transfers to another school, or the 24-month OPT extension ends, whichever is first.

8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(12)(ii)(B)

The validation report must include the student’s:

  • Full legal name
  • SEVIS identification number
  • Current mailing and residential address
  • Name and address of the current employer
  • Date the student began working for the current employer

The report is due to the DSO within 10 business days of each report due date. You may download OPT Employer Report.

After receiving the student’s validation report, the DSO must update SEVIS no later than 31 days after the 6- and 12-month reporting due date. If the PDSO/DSO does not report that the student is participating in the OPT Extension, or does not update the OPT Extension information within the reporting period, the student will automatically be set to Terminated status with a new reason of “Failure to Report while on OPT” 32 days after the reporting due date.

Please ask your employer to sign the report form and return it to us via post, fax, or as an e-mail attachment as soon as possible so that we may assist you in maintaining your F-1 status.