24 Month STEM Extension
USCIS has recently revised their guidance regarding employment through third party agencies during STEM OPT. As a result, there has been some confusion among students and employers regarding STEM-OPT extensions and seeking employment through staffing, placement, or temporary agencies.
We recommend you avoid employment via staffing, placement, or temporary agencies, but we will not prevent you from applying should you choose to do so. Seeking employment through a third-party agency may affect your immigration status negatively, therefore we encourage you to talk to us first.
If you have already applied for your STEM extension or are currently working for a third party agency, please be aware of the risks. As we are taking a cautious approach in this matter, we advise you to make the best decision based on your personal circumstances after speaking with us.
To learn more about the new guidance please visit the following resources:
If you have additional concerns please call or come in during walk-in advising hours. #TalkToUs
What is the STEM extension?
The STEM Extension is a 24-month extension of Optional Practical Training (OPT) authorization available to F-1 students who have graduated with degrees in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics. The STEM Extension application is reviewed by ISSS and submitted to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) for processing by the applicant.
How do I apply for the STEM extension?
2) Submit the required documents listed on the STEM extension application form to ISSS either in person or via email.
3) A new I-20 will be issued to you with an ISSS recommendation for STEM extension. Pick up this I-20 and compile the required list of documents to send to USCIS.
4) Send required documents to USCIS. In approximately 1-2 weeks, you should receive a crecipt notification with a USCIS case number.
5) Wait 1-3 months to receive work authorization from USCIS. You will receive a new EAD card.
6) Submit a copy of your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to ISSS.
Am I eligible to apply for the STEM extension?
- You must be on Post-Completion OPT at the time you apply for the extension with USCIS.
- You must have graduated within the last 5 years with a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics from an accredited and SEVP-certified school.
- The degree code (CIP code) listed on your I-20 must appear on the STEM Designated Degree Program List in order for you to be eligible for the extension. If you are not sure if you are eligible you can find it on page 1 of your I-20 in the Program of Study box (ex. Software Engineering is 14.0903).
- You must already have or have been offered a paid position within an E-Verified company, working at least 20 hours per week in your academic field of study.
- Your employer must be willing and able to fill out the I-983 training plan.
*For more information about eligibility requirements for the STEM extension, visit Study in the States STEM OPT Hub.
Frequently asked questions:
Who can help me fill out the I-983? - You should work with your employer to complete the I-983. Further instructions regarding the form can also be found on Study in the States. You will also find a sample I-983 on our website.
Can I work while my STEM application is pending? - Yes, you are authorized to work for up to 180 days or until a decision is made by USCIS about your case. This benefit is only available if you apply for the STEM extension with USCIS prior to the expiration of your Post-Completion OPT EAD.
What if I change employers while my STEM extension is pending? - If your STEM application is currently pending and you change employers you will need to get a new, updated I-20 from our office and resubmit it to USCIS along with a cover letter. All students will be required to submit an I-983 for their new employer along with the final evaluation page of the I-983 for the previous employer. Further instructions can be found on our application form.
What is E-Verify? - E-Verify is an internet-based system operated by USCIS in partnership with the Social Security Administration. E-Verify helps employers determine the employment eligibility of their employees. More information on E-Verify can be found here.
What are my reporting requirements on STEM?
After 6 Months - Six months after your STEM Extension EAD card has begun, you must submit the 6 month employment report regardless of whether there have been changes in your employment. This is to confirm with the government that your name, address, employer's information, and employment status are up to date.
After 12 Months - Twelve months after your STEM Extension EAD card has begun, you must submit the 12 month employment report as well as the I-983 Evaluation on Student Progress (found on page 5 of the I-983). This self-evaluation must also be signed by your current employer.
After 18 Months - Eighteen months after your STEM Extension EAD card has begun, you must submit the 18 month employment report regardless of whether there have been changes in your employment. This is to confirm with the government that your name, address, employer's information, and employment status are up to date.
After 24 Months - At the end of your STEM Extension you must submit the 24 month employment report as well as the I-983 Final Evaluation on Student Progress (found on page 5 of the I-983). This self-evaluation must also be signed by your current employer.
Changing Employers - If at any point on your STEM Extension you change employers, you must submit the employment report and upload a copy of your I-983 Final Evaluation on Student Progress (found on page 5 of the I-983) for the previous employer and a new I-983 (pages 1-4) for the new employer.
*Failure to submit these required updates may result in the termination of your F-1 status. All changes in employment must be reported within 10 days of the change.