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STEM OPT Extension Request

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an off-campus training benefit available to F1 students after program completion. Students in eligible STEM programs can apply for a 24-month OPT extension.

Student Eligibility:
  • A student with a STEM-qualifying bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree from an accredited, SEVIS-certified U.S. educational institution, who is in a valid period of standard post-completion OPT, has an offer of paid employment for more than 20 hours per week from an employer enrolled in E-Verify.
  • Applicant has completed a degree in a STEM-eligible field from a U.S. accredited institution with SEVP certification within the last 10 years and has not already utilized this degree to apply for an OPT STEM Extension.
Things to Remember:
  • You and your employer complete a Form I-983 Training Plan
    • Form I-983 instructions can be found HERE.
    • Submit the completed plan in the ISS Portal.
    • You may use a staffing agency to find a training opportunity, but the agency cannot complete and sign the Form I-983.
    • You must submit a new Form I-983 if you change employers.
    • You must be working in a paid position for a participating E-Verified employer; cannot be self-employed, unpaid, or volunteer work.
    • Concordia University, St. Paul’s school code is SPM214F00284000.
  • You may receive the STEM OPT I-20 as early as 90 days before the end of your 12-month OPT period.
  • Your DSO determines that the degree program that will serve as the basis of the STEM OPT extension must be on the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List.
  • The DSO updates the student's SEVIS record with a recommendation for a 24-month STEM OPT extension, and issues a new Form I-20 that reflects the STEM OPT extension recommendation.
  • File the STEM extension application with USCIS within 60 days of the DSO's recommendation in SEVIS and before the expiration of your post-completion OPT.
    • Contact ISS for a new I-20 if you cannot meet this deadline.
  • Watch for your receipt notice letter from USCIS. You can use the “Receipt Number” to check the status of your case at www.uscis.gov. Please note this website is updated infrequently.
  • USCIS will issue an EAD reflecting the approved STEM OPT extension.
  • Throughout the STEM OPT extension period, the student, employer(s), and school comply with all reporting, training, supervision, evaluation, wage, documentation, and other obligations specified in the regulations and on Form I-983.
  • Students may engage in a training experience that takes place at a site other than the employer's principal place of business as long as all of the training obligations are met, including that the employer has and maintains a bona fide employer-employee relationship with the student. The employer that signs the Training Plan is the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience.
  • The STEM OPT Start Date is the day following the current post-completion OPT End Date.
  • The STEM OPT End Date is 24 months after the start date.
  • A student who has timely filed an application for a 24-month STEM OPT extension with USCIS may work for the STEM OPT employer while the STEM extension application is pending, for up to 180 days beyond the expiration of his or her prior post-completion OPT EAD.
    • Time spent during this 180-day period while the application is pending counts towards the 24-month extension.
  • If the STEM OPT application is still pending with USCIS beyond 180 days, the student must stop working until USCIS approves the STEM OPT application.
  • Students with 24-month STEM extensions may have up to 150 days of unemployment during the total OPT period including the initial 12-month (90 days) and 24-month (60 days) STEM OPT period.
  • Travel is allowed on STEM OPT. Be sure to travel with the following documents:
    • Passport (valid for at least 6 months beyond the date of the re-entry to the U.S.)
    • Valid F-1 Visa that permits multiple entries
    • Form I-20 with valid travel signature and STEM OPT Recommendation (Travel signatures are valid for 6 months while on STEM OPT.)
    • Valid or Expired OPT Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
    • Employment Verification Letter
    • I-797 Receipt Notice for STEM OPT Application (if application is still pending with USCIS)
  • Report changes in employment or personal information including address to ISS within 10 days.
  • It is your responsibility to comply with and pay attention to reporting requirements and deadlines.
  • Report any change of contact information or status to ISS.
How to Apply for the STEM OPT Extension
  • Request your STEM OPT I-20.
    • Click on the "Apply for STEM OPT Extension Here" button below and complete all items.
  • Prepare all USCIS application items (listed below).
    • Make an appointment at ISS if you'd like to review the documents before mailing them to USCIS.
  • File all USCIS application items with USCIS within 60 days of requesting the STEM OPT I-20.
USCIS Application Items
  • Form I-765 filing fee
    • Pay by check or money order to “US Department of Homeland Security” or credit card using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions.
  • Form I-765
    • Find the current form and instructions online at https://www.uscis.gov/i-765
    • Type or use black ink
    • Enter “N/A” or “none” in any blank fields
    • In the third box, check “Renewal of my permission to accept employment.”
    • Include your employer’s name as listed in E-Verify and E-Verify Company Identification Number or valid E-Verify Client Company Identification Number.
    • In item 20, enter (c)(3)(C) for STEM OPT extension.
  • Copy of signed I-20 with STEM OPT recommendation
    • You must file with USCIS within 60 days of the issue date
  • Official transcript (recommended) or copy of diploma as documentation of the STEM degree
  • Copy of your current EAD (front and back)
  • Two new passport photos (ie. Not the same as your current passport or visa.)
    • Print full name and I-94 number on back of each photo.
    • Put in envelope and staple to application.
  • Most recent I-94 card (can be found at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov)
  • Paperclip form G-1145 on top of stapled application materials (optional)
  • Note: the I-983 Training Plan does not need to be submitted to USCIS (unless USCIS requests a copy during STEM OPT extension processing).
    • You should keep a copy of the plan for your own records.
USCIS Filing Address
  • File your application with USCIS lockbox based on the state where your I-765 mailing address is located.
    • MN mailing addresses use (send by USPS certified mail):
      • USCIS
      • PO Box 21281
      • Phoenix, AZ 85036
  • If your mailing address is outside of MN, find the correct USCIS address at the following link: https://www.uscis.gov/forms/forms-information/uscis-phoenix-and-dallas-lockbox-facilities

Note: If you have already started a request, do not start a new request. Please go to your User Home Page to continue working on your request.