You are eligible to apply for a 24-month OPT extension beyond the initial 12 months if you meet all of the following criteria:
- You are currently approved for post-completion OPT and in the last 90 days of your 12-month employment authorization.
- You have an E-Verify employer. E-Verify is an Internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States.
- You completed a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) field. Check whether your degree is on the STEM Designated Degree Program List. Eligible degrees are listed by their Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code. You can find your degree's CIP code on the "Program of Study, Major 1” on the first page of your I-20.
- You have not already used the two maximum STEM Extension OPT authorizations for previous degrees/levels completed earlier in your academic career in the U.S.
The STEM Extension OPT is adjudicated by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The new STEM extension EAD card begins the day after the expiration of the 12-month EAD card and ends 24 months later, no matter the date of adjudication.
When and How to Apply
When to Apply
Apply up to 90 days before your current 12-month Optional Practical Training (OPT) expires. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must receive your application before your Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) expires.
How to Apply
To receive the new STEM Extension I-20 you must submit the signed I-765 application form and a signed I-983 Training Plan to the 24 Month OPT STEM Application Google Form. Make sure you are within 90 days of your 12 month OPT expiring; do not submit them earlier. If typing the forms and all necessary information does not fit please hand write the information in black ink.
- I-765 application guide
- I-983 training plan guide (do not complete page 5, IPS will notify you when this page is required)
Be sure to verify all information on both forms for accuracy against the IPS sample documents provided. IPS will then generate the STEM extension I-20 and email you a scanned copy along with a detailed email regarding the application process and important STEM extension requirements.
Gather these STEM extension documents to mail to USCIS. We are happy to review your I-765 packet before you mail it; send a copy of all documents to email@example.com if you would like it reviewed.
- I-765 Application
- Section 28. C. on the I-765 must be the companies E-verify number NOT the companies EIN number. Yes there is a difference. The E-verify number is 5 - 7 digits while EIN is 9 digits. You must send all 7 pages of the I-765 form even if the pages are blank.
- Check or money order in the amount of $410, payable to "US Department of Homeland Security." Be sure to sign your money order, as failing to do so will cause your OPT packet to be returned.
- Two passport-style color photos, two inches by two inches, taken within 30 days of filing (write your name and I-94 number in pencil on the back of the photo)
- Copy of the front and back of your current EAD card and the paper the EAD card was attached to
- Copy of new OPT STEM extension I-20 from IPS (keep the original I-20)
- Copy of all previous I-20s
- Official or unofficial transcript and copy of the diploma that shows your degree level and program of study
- Copy of your current I-94 printout
- Copy of your passport identity page (and any renewal pages)
- Copy of F-1 visa page
- Offer letter from your employer
- Copy of Form I-797C (receipt notice from the initial 12-month OPT)
- Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application, authorizing USCIS to text or email you when they receive the application at the processing center
Do NOT submit a copy of the I-983 training plan with your STEM Extension application to USCIS. IPS staff keep this on file.
USCIS must receive the OPT packet within 30 days of the new I-20 generation date. Be sure to double-check the following before mailing out your packet:
- All forms are signed by you, including your OPT STEM I-20 and any other I-20s.
- Make a copy of the entire packet for your records, making sure to send the original signed I-765 application. If USCIS receives an application with a photocopy of your signature your packet will be returned.
- Mail to the correct USCIS filing address.
You Need to Know
- USCIS sends a Receipt Notice, Form I-797C, two to four weeks after the application is filed. IPS will email you a scanned copy of the receipt once it arrives.
- OPT STEM Extension processing time is 90 days or longer. You are eligible to continue working up to 180 days while the STEM Extension is pending.
- Once the new EAD card arrives in IPS you will receive an email which includes a scanned copy of the EAD card and a link to pay for shipping. IPS will not send EAD cards through regular postal mail.
Michigan Tech International Programs and Services Office is recommending to all international students to minimize international travel due to the changes to U.S. Immigration Policy. Given the current state of U.S. immigration climate, be prepared for the possibility of increased scrutiny at U.S. Ports of entry through additional questioning and/or inspection of your social media and personal phone. IPS is here to help and support international students in any way we can.
Your status is still F-1. So, if you travel outside of the United States you must have this documentation to re-enter:
- Valid EAD card
- I-20 with travel signature (no more than six months old) with current employer information listed on page two of your I-20
- Valid F-1 visa stamp, unless you are able to use Automatic Visa Revalidation. It is possible to renew your F-1 visa during STEM OPT.
- Current passport, valid at least six months after the date of last entry
- We strongly recommend that you also carry your job offer letter from a current or future employer. Days abroad do not count toward unemployment if the time is excused by the company or it is travel for business.
International travel is not recommended while a STEM extension OPT application is pending.
To qualify for a STEM Optional Practical Training extension, you must be a verified employee of the employer who signs your Training Plan. The employer who signs the plan must be the same employer who provides the practical training experience. STEM-eligible employers must have E-Verify and Employer Identification Numbers (EIN).
Work that is Not Allowed
- Jobs through employment agencies may not be allowed if a bona fide employer employee relationship is not maintained as described by USCIS.
- Volunteer/unpaid jobs
- Any other work relationship that does not constitute a bona fide employer-employee relationship
You must maintain F-1 status while on STEM OPT. The requirements:
- Do not be unemployed for more than 150 days (includes unemployment during your initial 12-month OPT).
- Report any change of residential address on banweb within 10 days of the change.
- Complete necessary employment verification every 6 months.
- Submit the 24 Month OPT Change of Employment Form within 10 days of every change in employment. For loss of employment, submit the Unemployment Update Form.
- Complete and turn in to firstname.lastname@example.org the Evaluation on Student Progress Form I-983 Mentoring and Training Plan twice during the course of your STEM OPT period:
- The first assessment is due within 12 months of the STEM OPT start date.
- The second, final assessment recaps all your training and knowledge acquired during the completed training period. Submit it at the end of your STEM OPT.
If You Change Employers While On STEM OPT
You must do all of the following before a new I-20 will be issued:
- Submit the whole I-983 form for your previous employer to the Google Form below.
- Submit a new I-983 form for your new employer to the Google Form below.
- Fill out the 24 Month OPT Change of Employment Form.
Updated Form I-983 Mentoring and Training Plan
A new Form I-983 Mentoring and Training Plan must be submitted to IPS within 10 days of:
- beginning a new practical training opportunity with a new employer during the 24-month extension
- any time there is a "material change" in the terms and conditions of the original I-983
Form I-983 must be signed by the student and your immediate supervisor, and then submitted to email@example.com.
You Need to Know
Report termination or departure from your job to IPS within ten days.
Find comprehensive information on STEM OPT Extension rules and requirements on the USCIS website.
You are required to do employment verification every 6 months EVEN IF NOTHING HAS CHANGED or you just changed employers.
For 5-6 Month
You must submit the 24 Month OPT Employment Verification Form.
For 11-12 Month
You must submit the 24 Month OPT Employment Verification Form and the ENTIRE I-983 training plan with "Evaluation on Student progress" on page 5 filled out submitted to the Google Form.
For 17-18 Month
You must submit the 24 Month OPT Employment Verification Form.
Transitioning from F-1 to H-1B
- If you have applied for H-1B we still recommend you apply for STEM Extension as a backup.
- When you receive your H-1B Approval Notice from USCIS, send a pdf scanned copy to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you have consular H-1B DO NOT submit until you receive the H-1B visa stamp. IPS cannot change your record to H-1B until you receive the stamp.
Use this form to request your STEM Extension I-20: 24 Month OPT STEM Application
Use this form to report employer changes: 24 Month OPT Change of Employment Form
Use this form to complete employment verification every 6 months: 24 Month OPT Employment Verification Form
Use this form to report unemployment ONLY if you do not have another job lined up, you will not receive a new I-20 until you get a new job. Please also email your ENTIRE training plan with "Final Evaluation on Student progress" filled out to email@example.com : OPT Unemployment Form