- Your major's CIP code must be listed on the STEM List released by ICE. Make sure to read the first two paragraphs in full, as it can be
confusing to determine whether or not your program is STEM eligible.
- Your CIP code is a 6 digit code listed on your I-20 next to the name of your major and is in XX.XXXX format.
- Your employer must be registered in the E-Verify program.
- Your employment must be paid.
- You must have a bonafide employer-employee relationship with the company providing the training, and this company must complete the Form I-983. If you are getting paid through a staffing agency, the staffing agency cannot complete your Form I-983. As Study in the States explains, "F-1 students cannot qualify for STEM OPT extensions unless they will be bona fide employees of the employer signing the Form I-983 because F-1 students may not provide employer attestations on their own behalf. However, STEM OPT applicants can participate in a start-up or small business so long as all regulatory requirements are met. The employer that signs the Training Plan must be the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience."
- You must work at least 20 hours per week.
How to Apply
- The earliest your STEM Extension OPT application can reach USCIS is 90 days before the end of your post-completion OPT. The latest your application can reach USCIS is the last day of your post-completion OPT. USCIS maintains that your application should be filed in a "timely manner," so early application is recommended.
- USCIS must receive your STEM Extension application before your post-completion OPT ends.
- If you live out of town, do not physically mail your STEM OPT application to the International Student Services Office. Any application materials sent to ISS will be returned to you. ISS will review your STEM OPT application by email, then mail your new I-20 to you. You will send your STEM OPT application to USCIS after receiving your new I-20.
List of Documents Necessary for the STEM OPT Extension Application
Send an electronic copy by email to International Student Services:
- Form I-983 [pdf] (pages 1 - 4 must be complete and signed by all parties.
- Make sure to carefully read Guidance for Completing Form I-983 [pdf] as you complete this form.
- You do not have to complete page 5 upon the initial submission of your STEM OPT application.
- I-765 [pdf] completed as best you can (we will review and make suggestions, although it is your responsibility to review in full before mailing.)
Prepare the following documents to mail to USCIS. Make sure to confirm all instructions below on the USCIS website and Study in the States.
- Copy of your new STEM OPT I-20. This can be obtained by submitting your Form I-765 and Form I-983 to an international student advisor.
- I-765 [pdf]
- G-1145 [pdf]
- Copy of EAD
- Copy of post-completion OPT I-20
- Copy of Passport Photo Page
- Copy of F-1 visa
- Official Transcripts from the Registrar's Office (They do not have to be sealed. You can order official eTranscripts from your Self Service Carolina account--they cost approximately $12. You should have them emailed to yourself. Unofficial advising transcripts are not acceptable, but the official transcripts ordered from Self Service Carolina are acceptable. They will say "printed from certified PDF." This is acceptable.)
- Copy of Diploma
- Check for $410 made out to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (personal check, money order, or certified check)
- 2 Passport Photos taken within the last 30 days with name and I-94 number written on the back (if you submit old passport photos, your application will be rejected)
Updated reporting requirements for students authorized for a 24-month STEM Extension are below. Send all required updates by using the STEM OPT Update Form or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Students on STEM OPT should not utilize the SEVP Portal but should contact ISS Directly.
- Every six months: You must confirm with ISS that your SEVIS record is accurate using the STEM OPT Update Form.
- Annually: You are required to complete the Evaluation of Student Progress portion of the Form I-983 and complete the STEM OPT Update Form.
- When STEM OPT ends: you must conduct a second, final assessment, and procure signatures from your employer on page 5 of the Form I-983.
- Any changes in employment, including termination, must be reported to ISS within 5 days using the STEM OPT Update Form.
Please note that is the student's responsibility to report in a timely manner.
Students on their 24-month STEM Extension OPT have 60 days of allowable unemployment in addition to the 90 days of allowable unemployment on post-completion OPT for a total of 150 days of allowable unemployment.