24 Month STEM Extension
- When to Apply
- Premium Processing with USCIS
- Application Steps
- While Application is Pending
- After Approval
- Mandatory Reporting Requirements
You must meet ALL of the following criteria to be eligible to apply for STEM OPT extension. For more information, visit Study in States: Determining STEM OPT Extension Eligibility.
- Been granted and currently active on post-completion OPT.
- Have not exceeded 90 days of unemployment on your current post-completion OPT.
- Earned a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics) from a SEVP-certified school. See the list of eligible STEM majors. You can find your CIP code on page 1 of your I-20.
- Work for an employer that is enrolled in USCIS' E-Verify employment eligibility verification program. Contact your employer for the requisite E-Verify Company ID number. *Therefore, self employment is not allowed on STEM OPT.
- The employer must guarantee you a minimum of 20 hours of work per week and provide you formal training and learning objectives. You must engage in paid employment that is directly related to your STEM degree.
- Have not previously used STEM OPT more than once. You cannot have more than one STEM OPT extension based on the same degree.
- Be physically present in the U.S. when requesting the STEM OPT I-20 from ISSS and submitting your application to USCIS.
When to Apply
You may apply up to 90 days before your current OPT employment authorization expires.
Please allow ample time for ISSS to process your STEM OPT I-20 request.
Premium Processing with USCIS
On March 6, 2023 USCIS announced Premium Processing; New Online-Filing Procedures for Certan F-1 Student Seeking OPT or OPT OPT Extensions.
ISSS does not recommend the premium processing option for STEM OPT Extension. As long as your application was received by USCIS in a timely manner, within 60 days of ISSS STEM OPT recommendation or by your Post-Completion OPT end date (whichever is first), your employment authorization is automatically extended for up to 180 days while your STEM OPT application is pending with USCIS. You can go here to find out the current processing times for form I-765 with USCIS. (See below for the information you will need to enter to find the current processing times).
Form: I-765 Application for Employment Authorization
Form Category: Based on a request by a qualified F-1 academic student [(c)(3)
Field Office or Service Center: Potomac Service Center
If you choose to file for premium processing for your OPT or STEM OPT application, you still need to get an I-20 from ISSS with the OPT or STEM OPT recommendation prior to filing your application with USCIS. Please keep in mind the following information.
Filing Fee for Premium Processing:$1,500 if you are filing Form I-907 for a pending Form I-765 with eligibility category (c)(3)(C) STEM OPT Extension. Please note: These fees are in addition to all other filing fees required by the application or petition you are submitting.
USCIS will take adjudicative action within 30 days or will refund Premium Processing fee
- Beginning March 6, USCIS will accept Form I-907 requests, filed either via paper form or online, for certain F-1 students who already have a pendingForm I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, if they are filing under one of the following categories:
- (c)(3)(A) – Pre-Completion OPT;
- (c)(3)(B) – Post-Completion OPT; and
- (c)(3)(C) – 24-Month Extension of OPT for STEM students.
- Beginning April 3, USCIS will accept Form I-907 requests, filed either via paper form or online, for F-1 students in the above categories when filed together with Form I-765.
USCIS will reject premium processing requests for a pending Form I-765 if received before March 6, and will reject any premium processing request for an initial or concurrently filed Form I-765 that is received before April 3.
- View the STEM OPT Tutorial.
- Required: Update your personal information (name, telephone number, or address) and current
employment information using the SEVP Student Portal. If you have not been using the SEVP Student Portal for regular OPT reporting, use
ISSS' SEVP Portal Request Form to request access.
- Pay the one-time $300 administrative STEM OPT fee by going to this link. Make sure you select the correct option-'Payment for the STEM OPT fee'. It is the
second item on the menu. You will need to upload proof of payment receipt in your
STEM OPT I-20 request e-form.
- Complete Form I-983, Training Plan for STEM OPT Students. Review SEVP’s Form I-983 instructionsand ISSS I-983 Completion Guide. Upload a complete and signed training plan by you and the employer with your STEM
OPT I-20 request e-form. Upload a legible copy of the training plan, all five pages,
as a single pdf form. Refer to the e-form for details. Missing or incomplete Form
I-983 training plan will result in a processing delay. Electronic signatures on Form I-983 will not be accepted. Include the following documents:
A. Photocopy of your current post-completion OPT EAD card (front and back)
B. Photocopy of your most recent I-94 record of arrival into the U.S.
- Request a STEM OPT I-20. ISSS is no longer accepting paper request forms. Log into iSpartan Services to access all F-1 practical training related forms including the 24-Month STEM OPT I-20 request. For login instructions see E-Form Guide for Students, follow the Limited Services E-form tutorial for former students (towards the end of the page).
- Allow 7-10 business days for ISSS to review your request. ISSS will email you an electronic version of your I-20 with STEM OPT recommendation on page 2, digitally signed by a DSO. However, you must still provide a wet signature on your I-20 for USCIS. Print and sign your STEM OPT I-20 in black ink.
- While you are waiting for your STEM OPT I-20, review the following tutorials. They
will give you a list of documents to gather for your application, as well as I-765
*Online filing of I-765 for OPT/STEM OPT.
*Mailing I-755 for OPT/STEM OPT.
Do not submit your STEM OPT application to USCIS until you have the new I-20 with STEM OPT recommendation from ISSS.
- Once you have your I-20 and have prepared your STEM OPT packet, please be aware that USCIS must receive your completed STEM OPT application within 60 days of date your STEM OPT was recommended by ISSS or by your OPT end date, whichever is first. Make sure to visit USCIS's website for the most up-to-date forms (I-765, G-1145) and instructions.
As of April 2021, USCIS offers 2 different ways to file an I-765 (STEM OPT) application with USCIS. You must choose one option. You cannot choose both options. ISSS recommends that you file online. 1. Mail application and supporting documents to USCIS. Review ISSS Mailing I-755 for OPT/STEM OPT.2. Online filing of I-765. Review ISSS Online filing of I-765 for OPT/STEM OPT.
*If you filed your post-completion OPT application online, update your address in your USCIS online account BEFORE you file the STEM OPT application.
If you choose to mail your application, then refer to USCIS I-765 filing locations for the mailing address for the OPT application and the tutorial: Mailing I-755 for OPT/STEM OPT.. Approximately 2-4 weeks after USCIS receives your application, you should receive a receipt notice with a USCIS case number.
- Wait 2-4 months to receive work authorization from USCIS. You should receive an approval notice (I-797 Notice of Action) and new STEM EAD.
- Know your required reporting requirements every 6 months on STEM OPT.
While your Application is Pending
The average processing time at USCIS Potomac Service Center is 3 to 5 months. If you file Form I-765, in a timely manner, your employment authorization is automatically extended for up to 180 days while your STEM OPT application is pending.
You will receive Form I-797C Notice of Action or filing receipt within 2 to 4 weeks after mailing your application to USCIS. Retain the filing receipt should you need to inquire about the status of your STEM OPT application. The receipt or case number is located in the upper left corner of the document, next to the receipt date. Verify the spelling of your name, date of birth, and address listed on the filing receipt. If there is an error, contact USCIS Contact Center immediately. If you lose the receipt, it may be difficult to replace. If you did not receive the receipt notice in the mail, contact USCIS Contact Center to request a duplicate copy if possible.
Case Status Online. ISSS recommends you sign up for an account at USCIS Case Status Online. This allows you to receive automatic updates to monitor your case. To use the Case Status Online tool you will need your receipt number.
Case Inquiries. You can submit an inquiry using the Case Inquiry tool, e.g., if you do not receive your receipt or your application is pending for more than 90 days.
Address Changes. Update your address online with USCIS here.
After STEM OPT extension has been approved
After you received your EAD card, review the card information: check the spelling of your name, DOB, authorization dates, etc. If there is a printing error made by USCIS, you may need to send back the EAD to be corrected. If the error is made by you, depending on severity, you may need to re-file for a corrected EAD. Contact an ISSS advisor if you need assistance.
Present your STEM OPT EAD to your employer as proof of legal work authorization. Also, provide a photocopy of the STEM OPT EAD to ISSS. If you receive an approval notice (Form I797A) but not the EAD card (sent separately) , please first check with your local post office for delivery confirmation/returned mail/undeliverable mail. Check with family members, housemates if he/she received your EAD card in the mail before contacting ISSS for assistance. If the EAD is presumed to be lost, then you will need to file another Form I-765 to USCIS PSC for a replacement card.
Mandatory Reporting Requirements
Detailed information about your mandatory reporting requirements throughout the STEM OPT period may be found at Study in the States STEM OPT Hub. Click here to download Study in the State’s STEM OPT Reporting Requirement handout. It is your responsibility to regularly check-in with ISSS throughout the extension period. ISSS will report the information to SEVIS on your behalf.
- You must report any changes to your name, address, or employment within 10 days. *A change in employment, will require you to submit a new I-983 to ISSS.
- While on STEM OPT extension, provide a validation report (confirming name, address, employment info) every 6 months even if there are no changes. Do so by completing ISSS’ STEM OPT Employment Update Report Form.
- Form I-983 Annual/Final Evaluation of Student Progress is due at 12 and 24 months. Upload the initial or final self-evaluation with a completed ISSS Employment Update Report Form.
- Unemployment. STEM OPT students are allowed an additional 60 days of unemployment for a total of 150 days. 90 days during the initial period of post-completion OPT plus the additional 60 days during the extension period.
- Inform ISSS if you plan to return to school full-time; transfer to another school; begin a new degree program; change your status to another visa category, or depart the U.S. prior to the STEM OPT end date.
Click here for a summary of your reporting responsibilities during STEM OPT.