24 Month STEM Extension

Attention--Tutorials for STEM-OPT Now Available Online:

 

1. STEM-OPT General Overview

2. STEM-OPT Reporting Requirements

3. STEM-OPT Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

 

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.

 

IMPORTANT: STEM Extension applications can be submitted to ISSS as early as 100 days before your post-OPT EAD card expires. ISSS will not accept STEM extension applications earlier than this.

 

How do I apply for the STEM extension?

1) View STEM-OPT tutorials (see above)

2) Review the STEM extension application form and sample I-983

3) Submit the required documents listed on the STEM extension application form to ISSS either in person or via email. 

4) 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.

5) Send required documents to USCIS. In approximately 1-2 weeks, you should receive a crecipt notification with a USCIS case number.

6) Wait 1-3 months to receive work authorization from USCIS. You will receive a new EAD card.

7) 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 10 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? - Currently, we are advising against this. Please only change employers once you are approved for STEM OPT.

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. 

SEVP Portal - STEM-OPT recipients are still required to report their employment and any material changes to their employment through the employment update report form, unless they would like to simply REVIEW their employment information on the portal or add/amend their company's work address and phone number. Select the following link for more information on the SEVP Portal: SEVP Portal Information

*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.

 

I-765 Guidelines

I-765 guidelines can be found here. Always make sure to visit USCIS's website for the most up-to-date forms and instructions.