OPT STEM Extension

Applying for the OPT STEM Extension

The application for the 24-month STEM extension is similar to your original OPT application.

  1. 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.  Please remember, this can take approximately 2 weeks to process your new I-20, so plan accordingly.  You may submit the OPT Employer Report and Form I-983 as early as 90 days prior to your OPT end date.  Please review the Instructions to Complete the I-983 Training Plan for assistance.  You will check the box “STEM I-20 Request” on the OPT Employer Report Form.
  2. Once your new I-20 for the STEM recommendation is ready, ISS will notify you via email and you may pay for e-shipping for the mailing of your new I-20.You will receive 2 copies of your I-20 and the STEM Extension Resource Guide.  Please make sure to sign both of these I-20s.  You will keep one for your records and one you will mail with your application.
  3. Prepare all documents to be mailed to USCIS:
    • Payment of $410.00 made payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  View the Paying USCIS Fees website for all payment options, detailed instructions, and a sample of “How to Write Your Check”.  You may also pay by credit card by including Form G-1450 with your application.  Make sure to include your I-94 number on your payment.
    • Two recent, passport-style photos on white background. The photos must be 2 x 2 inches; the images must be 1 inch from the hair to the chin and 1.25 inch from eye height to the bottom of the photo. Your name and I-94 number must be printed in pencil on the back of the photos
    • Form G-1145
    • On the Form I-765 mark the box indicating that you are applying for renewal of your employment authorization.  Review the STEM OPT Instructions for the Form I-765 for assistance.
    • New Form I-20 with the STEM recommendation on page 2
    • Copies of previous I-20s, passport, visa, Form I-94 and copies of any previous EAD’s (including current OPT card)
    • Copy of certification of degree awarded showing the applicant’s major field of study or a final transcript showing the degree awarded
    • Valid email address, employer’s name, employer’s address, and employer’s EIN
    • Evidence that first period of OPT was conducted appropriately – employment was directly related to the major and appropriate for the level of study and no more than 90 days of unemployment (job offer letters, pay stubs, etc.)
  4. Mail all documents to the appropriate Service Center prior to the expiration date on your current EAD.  Check the I-765 instructions to see which Service Center should receive your application.  See the USCIS Web site for filing addresses.
  5.  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.
  6. Your application must be mailed and received by USCIS within 60 days of the date printed on your I-20 and also must be received by USCIS prior to your OPT end date.  Please note:  The ISS Office has provided you with a recommendation for the OPT STEM extension.  USCIS will adjudicate your application and is responsible for the approval of your STEM extension.  It is possible that you may receive an RFE (Request for Evidence) from USCIS.  It is ultimately your responsible to provide accurate information to USCIS and provide further documentation if needed.  For more information regarding the OPT STEM extension, please visit the STEM OPT Hub on the Study in the States website.

Reporting Requirements

Please remember during OPT STEM that you must report your employment to the ISS office every 6 months using the OPT Employer Report Form.  You must also submit the evaluation portion of the I-983 at one year and the final evaluation at the end of your OPT STEM employment.  If you switch employers at any time during your 24 month STEM, you must update us with a new OPT Employer Report, the Form I-983, and the final evaluation section of the Form I-983 for the employer you are leaving, within 10 days of the change.  These reporting requirements are mandatory and failure to report could result in a termination of your OPT STEM.  Students must continue to update any change in address in Enterprise AND to the ISS Office within 10 days of moving.  Reporting requirements are the student’s responsibility and the ISS Office will not remind students to report.

Reporting requirements begin on the start date of your OPT STEM period (regardless of how long you have worked with the employer).

Timeline for STEM reporting requirements:

6 months – submit OPT Employer Report Form

1 year  – submit OPT Employer Report Form and evaluation section of the I-983

18 months – submit OPT Employer Report Form

2 year – submit OPT Employer Report Form and final evaluation section of the I-983

New Employer – submit OPT Employer Report and complete Form I-983 for new employer, submit final evaluation section of Form I-983 from previous employer

Please note:  If there are any changes to anything on your Form I-983, you must also submit this with your OPT Employer Report.

Site Visit

A new provision in the STEM OPT rule allows DHS to perform site visits to employer locations that train STEM OPT students.  DHS will provide notice to the employer at least 48 hours in advance of any site visit, unless the visit is triggered by a complaint or other evidence of noncompliance with the STEM OPT extension regulations.  The ISS Office recommends that you keep a copy of your Form I-983 easily accessible at your work.

Please view the OPT STEM Hub or USCIS website for more information regarding the 24 month OPT STEM extension.