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OPT 24-month STEM extension

Certain science, technology, engineering and math degree holders on OPT are eligible to extend their 12-month work authorization by 24 months, for a total of 36 months. You are allowed a maximum of two STEM extensions over the course of your academic career. In order to participate twice, you must earn the second degree at a higher education level. You must also be on OPT when you submit your STEM extension application to USCIS.

To find out whether you qualify for a 24-month STEM extension, look for the numeric code for your degree program on the first page of your I-20.

Eligibility

  • Must be on post-completion OPT
  • Application may be submitted up to 90 days prior to current OPT end date
  • USCIS must receive application prior to current OPT end date
  • Application must be submitted within 60 days of your international student adviser making the STEM extension recommendation in SEVIS
  • Job must be related to your STEM-eligible major
  • Employment must be paid
  • Your employer must be enrolled in E-verify
  • You and your employer must complete and sign the I-983 training plan

Employment and reporting requirements

Employment

  • Must be paid
  • Must be a minimum of 20 hours per week
  • Must be related to your STEM-eligible major
  • No more than 150 days of accrued unemployment time during entire 36 month OPT period
  • All employment/unemployment must be reported to the International Center through the Document Request System within 10 days of any changes

Reporting

  • You must submit the self-evaluation on the I-983 during the first 12 months of your STEM extension
  • You must also submit a self-evaluation on the I-983 at the conclusion of the 24-month extension or at the conclusion of employment, whichever comes first
  • Self-evaluations are due within 10 days of the time periods listed above

If there is a change to your employment, these changes must be reported by submitting a new I-983 to the International Center. These changes include:

  • Change in Employer Identification Number
  • Decrease in your compensation
  • Decrease in number of hours worked per week
  • Any changes to employer's commitments or student's learning objectives previously documented on Form I-983
  • Termination of your employment

You are required to report any of the following changes with 10 days via the Document Request System:

  • Name change
  • Local address
  • Employer name or address
  • Unemployment

Regardless of any changes, while on STEM extension you are required to report the following information to the International Center via the Document Request System every six months:

  • Student name
  • Local address
  • Employer name and address
  • Status of employment

Application process

  1. Request an OPT STEM extension using the Document Request System.
  2. Upload and submit your application materials to the International Center.
    • Form I-983 (example)
    • Form I-765 (example)
    • Form G-1145
    • Letter from employer confirming employment related to STEM degree, title, supervisor and employer's contact information
    • Copy of diploma
    • Copy of current OPT I-20
    • Copies of passport, visa, I-94, EAD card
    • Copy of complete employment history while on initial OPT (for example, copies of previous job offer letters)
  3. Your international student adviser will review your application materials and create a new 24-month STEM extension I-20 for you. You will need to sign this new I-20 and make a copy for your application to USCIS.
  4. File your complete application with USCIS (see mailing instructions below).
    • Check or money order for $410 made out to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security"
    • Two passport-size photos (can be obtained at the International Center)
    • Copy of new STEM OPT I-20 (be sure to sign the first page)
    • Form I-765
    • Form G-1145
    • Letter from employer confirming employment related to STEM degree, title, supervisor and employer's contact information
    • Copy of diploma
    • Copy of current OPT I-20
    • Copies of passport, visa, I-94, EAD card
    • Copy of complete employment history while on initial OPT (for example, copies of previous job offer letters)

Application mailing instructions

Mail your application to the correct USCIS Service Center based on the address used on your I-765 application.

Mail your application to the USCIS Phoenix lockbox if the address on your I-765 is in: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Guam or the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands.

USCIS Phoenix lockbox
By U.S. Postal Service By express service (e.g., UPS, FedEx)
USCIS
P.O. Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036
USCIS, Attn: AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S, Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

Mail your application to the USCIS Dallas lockbox if the address on your I-765 is in: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands or West Virginia.

USCIS Dallas lockbox
By U.S. Postal Service By express service (e.g., UPS, FedEx)
USCIS
P.O. Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266
USCIS, Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Highway 121 Business, Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

STEM extension based on previously earned degree

You may be eligible for a STEM extension based on a previously earned degree if you meet the following criteria:

  • Your degree must be earned from a currently-accredited SEVP-certified school. You are responsible for providing documentation that the school is accredited.
  • You must currently be on OPT for your most recently awarded degree (current degree does not need to be STEM eligible).
  • The prior degree must be at the bachelor's level or higher and have been conferred within 10 years from the date you submit your application to USCIS.
  • The prior degree must be on the current STEM designated degree programs list at the time of application.
  • The employment must be related to the previously earned STEM degree.