Applying for OPT STEM Extension
F-1 students participating in post-completion OPT who have earned or are currently earning a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. from a qualified degree program on the government STEM-designated list, may be eligible to apply for the 24-month STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) extension.
STEM OPT Extension
Be maintaining valid F-1 status.
Currently participating in post-completion OPT administered by Stevens, working in the U.S. in a job related directly to major field of study.
Have not exceeded 90 days of unemployment during the post-completion OPT period and will not exceed that limit prior to the STEM OPT extension start date.
Have previously earned (in the past ten years) or
are currently earning (in thesis/dissertation status at Stevens Institute of Technology only) a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. which has its field of study/major listed on the government STEM-designated list.
Must have a job or a job offer for paid employment of at least twenty (20) hours per week with a company enrolled in and using the government's E-Verify employment verification system.
Must not be self-employed. Self-employment is not an option on the STEM OPT extension.
Have not previously used the STEM OPT extension for this degree level.
Have not previously used the STEM OPT extension more than once.
The earliest you can apply is 90 days prior to the end date of your post-completion OPT. USCIS must receive your STEM OPT application before your post-completion OPT expires. You cannot apply for STEM OPT during your 60-day grace period.
If you file your STEM OPT extension application on time and your OPT period expires while your extension application is pending, USCIS will automatically extend your employment authorization for 180 days. This automatic 180-day extension ceases once USCIS adjudicates your STEM OPT extension application.
Step 1: Submit materials to [email protected]:
If you are changing employers, Employer Update Form
Copy of your EAD
ISSS processing time is 10 business days.
Step 2: Receive your new I-20
ISSS will issue you a new I-20 with the STEM OPT recommendation. You will receive an email when your new I-20 is ready.
Step 3: Review and sign your I-20
Once you receive your new I-20, sign and date the "Student Attestation" section on page 1 of your I-20.
Step 4: Gather and prepare your documents
Gather the documents found on the STEM OPT Checklist and Instructions.
Step 5: Submit your documents to USCIS
Once you have gathered all your documents, you will submit your application to USCIS. Please refer to the STEM OPT Checklist and Instructions for a list of required documents. Remember, applications must be received by USCIS within 60 days of the issuance date on the I-2 and no later than the end date of post-completion OPT, whichever comes first.
Step 6: Receive USCIS Receipt Notice
USCIS will issue an I-797C Receipt Notice within 2-4 weeks after receiving your application via post. If you submit your application online, you will receive a receipt number right away. You can check the status of your case on USCIS.gov.
Contact [email protected] if you receive any other notice, such a Request for Evidence (RFE) or rejection notice, from USCIS.
Step 7: Continue employment while your application is pending
If you file your STEM OPT extension application on time and your OPT period expires while your extension application is pending, USCIS will automatically extend your employment authorization for 180 days. Your employer may refer to section 7.4.4 the I-9 Manual if they have questions on how to complete the Form I-9 while your application is pending.
Step 8: Receive your STEM Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
If your application is approved, USCIS will mail you an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) for the STEM OPT extension, which will list the start and end dates you are authorized to work on the STEM OPT extension.
You do not need a new I-20 once your STEM OPT extension has been approved. However, if you wish to get an updated I-20 showing your STEM OPT approval, you can request a reprint I-20 (reason: updated).
Contact [email protected] if you receive any other notice, such a Request for Evidence (RFE), from USCIS.
Learn more about STEM OPT
Below you will find webpages for the STEM OPT Filing Checklist, Frequently Asked Questions, and How to Maintain your F-1 Status while on active STEM OPT.
STEM OPT Checklist
USCIS now allows STEM OPT Extension applications to be filed online. You have the option to submit your application via regular mail or file online. This webpage will guide you through the application requirement for your STEM OPT Application to USCIS.
ISSS: STEM OPT FAQs
Many of the questions you may have about requesting, filing for, or participating in STEM OPT can be answered on our Frequently Asked Questions Page.
ISSS: STEM OPT Employment and Reporting Requirements
Once you are on active STEM OPT, you must follow the STEM OPT Employment and Reporting requirements to maintain your F-1 Status.
EAD Card Replacement
If you have received your EAD card and find that there is an error on the card, such as a name misspelling, birth date error, or the wrong OPT Category was issued, or if you have lost your EAD Card, please refer to the information on this webpage to request a new EAD Card from USCIS.