STEM OPT Extension (F-1)

STEM Extension of Optional Practical Training (OPT)

The STEM OPT extension is a 24-month extension of F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) for individuals who majored in the fields of study with specific classification of instructional program codes or (CIP) codes in science, technology, engineering, or math.  For more detailed information on STEM OPT extensions please go to the Department of Homeland Security website; Study in the States STEM OPT HUB.


To qualify for the STEM OPT extension:

  • You must have earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a field included on the U.S. government's list STEM fields. The government list of CIP Codes that are eligible for STEM OPT extensions may be viewed on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) website.
  • You must be currently participating in post-completion OPT in a job directly related to your STEM major.
  • Your job must be in a paid position, not a volunteer job or self-employment and work at least 20 hours per week.
  • Your current or prospective employer must be registered with the Department of Homeland Security E-Verify employment verification system and must agree to meet all the requirements listed in the Employer Responsibilities section of this page.
  • You must be residing in the U.S. at the time of application.


How to Apply for the STEM OPT Extension

Step 1: Speak with an International Student Advisor

Make an appointment to speak with an advisor to discuss the process of STEM OPT. You can schedule an appointment through Calendly (links in the sidebar of this webpage).

Step 2: Submit the required completed documents to the Slater International Center for review

You can use our online STEM OPT Application Form to submit the below required documentation or set up an appointment to meet with your International Student Advisor three to four months before your initial OPT ends.

Step 3: Correct any errors on your Form I-765 and Form I-983 and receive your new Form I-20

A Slater International Center staff member will review your application and inform you of any necessary changes. STEM OPT Extension applications can take up to five (5) business days to process. Your new Form I-20 with a recommendation for a STEM extension will be express mailed to you if you have completed the Immigration Document Mailing Form.

Step 4: Submit your STEM OPT application to United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)

You may submit STEM OPT application on the my USCIS website up to 90 days before your initial OPT period ends. You must submit your completed application to USCIS and it must be received within 60 days of the date your Designated School Official (DSO)/International Student & Scholar Advisor signed your new Form I-20 and before your current OPT period ends. Digitally-submitted STEM OPT applications are immediately receipted after submission of payment. Do not submit your application online until you have received your Form I-20 recommending STEM OPT from Slater.

You will need to upload the below documents:

  • Your passport ID page
  • Your F-1 visa (does not apply to Canadian citizens)
  • Your most recent Form I-94
  • New Form I-20 (signed, with STEM OPT recommendation)
  • Forms I-20 showing previous OPT and CPT approvals
  • All previously issued EADs (front and back)
  • Copy of your diploma and official transcript (showing your major in a STEM field)
  • Copy of all previously issued EADs
  • A passport-sized photograph (taken within the past 6 months). You can use this photo specification guide and look at a list of places you can have your photo taken.

Your application will be immediately submitted to USCIS after you submit payment. Do you submit payment until you are certain all your documents are correct, complete, and accurate.


  • Do not scan your Form I-983 to USCIS. 
  • Keep a copy of all the documents you have submitted to USCIS is a folder on your computer

NOTE:  If you successfully file the application for your STEM OPT extension prior to the expiration of your current OPT period; you may continue employment up to 180 days following the expiration of your original OPT. If your application is denied, you must stop working immediately.

Step 5: Wait for approval

Once your payment has been processed on the USCIS website, USCIS will immediately issue you a Receipt Notice and number. USCIS will also send a paper Receipt Notice for your OPT application within 3-6 weeks.

You can track the status of your case directly from the myUSCIS website. Check your Receipt Notice to verify that your name is spelled correctly. If your name is not spelled correctly, please contact the USCIS Customer Service Center at the number provided on your receipt. Please also provide Slater International Center with a copy of this notice if you receive it directly.

Request for Evidence
If you receive a notice indicating that additional documentation is required for your application, contact your ISSA immediately for assistance.

Step 6: Receive your new EAD

USCIS will send you your new EAD and Form I-797 Notice of Action (STEM OPT Approval Form) indicating your new STEM OPT dates to the address listed on your Form I-765. You must send a photocopy of your new EAD and STEM OPT Approval Form to the Slater International Center via the Document Upload Form to update your record. Do not email your documents to Slater as it is not secure.

Additional Information

Employers’ STEM OPT Responsibilities

If you are an employer who wants to hire an international student for the STEM OPT extension you must:

  • Be enrolled in the E-Verify program and remain in good standing.
  • Provide an employment opportunity that is commensurate with those of similarly situated U.S. workers in duties, hours, and compensation
  • Document and provide a formal training program to augment the student’s academic learning through practical experience.
  • Complete the Form I-983, Training Plan. In this form, you must attest that:
    • You have enough resources and trained personnel available to appropriately train the student;
    • The student will not replace a full- or part-time, temporary or permanent U.S. worker; and
    • Working for you will help the student attain their training objectives.
  • Report material changes to the student’s employment to the DSO within 5 business days.

The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may visit your worksite(s) to verify whether you are meeting the STEM OPT program requirements, including whether you are maintaining the ability and resources to provide structured and guided work-based learning experiences for the student.

Maintaining F-1 Status during the OPT STEM OPT Extension


You are required to report the following information to the Slater International Center throughout the entire period of your STEM OPT extension:

  • Your legal name
  • Your residential or mailing address
  • Your email address
  • Your employer’s name
  • Your employer’s address

You must report any change in this information to the Slater International Center within 5 business days of the change.  Failure to report properly could be considered a violation of your F-1 student immigration status and could result in the termination of your SEVIS record.

It is your responsibility to follow these reporting requirements but the Slater will send reminder emails with a form to update every six months to verify your contact and employment information. Please complete the form and return it to the Slater International Center within 5 business days.

Evaluation Reporting

You must also complete two self-evaluations. These evaluations are found on page 5 of the Form I-983.  The first evaluation must be submitted within 12 months of the STEM OPT start date.  The second evaluation must be submitted at the end of the STEM OPT period.  You and your immediate supervisor must sign the evaluation and submit it to the Slater International Center.

Changing Employers while on STEM OPT

If you leave your current place of employment while on STEM OPT, you must let the Slater International Center know within 5 days of ending employment and complete the “Final Evaluation on Student Progress” on page 5 of the Form I-983 and submit it via the STEM OPT Validation Report.

If you begin new employment, you must also submit a new Form I-983 with your new employer information and training plan. Please submit the new Form I-983 via the STEM OPT Validation Report prior to beginning your employment. A Slater International Center staff member will review your training plan and if it is complete, issue you a new Form I-20 with your new employer information. You may not begin employment until your Form I-983 has been reviewed and approved.


For STEM OPT, you are granted an additional 60 days of unemployment for a total of 150 days of unemployment for the duration of your OPT. Please let the Slater International Center know if you are approaching 150 days of unemployment so we may assist you in maintaining your status.

Travel and Re-Entry to the United States

You must have a valid travel signature on your Form I-20 to travel and re-enter the United States in F-1 status. (while on STEM OPT the travel signature is valid for 6 months)

Documents Required to Re-Enter the U.S. While on STEM OPT:

  • A valid F-1 visa
    If your F-1 visa has expired and you must travel outside of the U.S., you will need to apply for a new visa at a U.S. Consulate outside of the U.S. You may remain in the U.S. with an expired visa as long as your EAD, Form I-20, and passport are valid.
  • A valid passport (must be valid at least six months into the future.)
  • A valid EAD – While the EAD is marked, “Not valid for re-entry,” this simply means that the card alone is not sufficient for re-entering the U.S.
  • Form I-20 with STEM OPT showing "Approved" and a travel signature less than 6 months old
  • Proof of employment – A letter from your current or prospective employer which indicates that you have a temporary job offer and that you will be employed.

Note: If you re-enter the U.S. in visa waiver or tourist status during your OPT authorized period, you are no longer eligible for STEM OPT.

Additional Resources

You may have additional questions about whether or not you meet the eligibility requirements or want further details on the requirements; we recommend three excellent resources for more information:

Study in the States

Planning tool for 24-month extension of STEM OPT


USCIS 24-Month Extension Guidance

The Slater Center provides general guidance on your OPT/STEM application based on information obtained from government sources. Our guidance reflects our experience working with students. Slater Center staff will make every attempt to ensure that you receive the most up to date information available. Any advice provided to you by our office (as well as any written material provided to you) does not constitute legal advice, upon request, we can work with an immigration attorney of your choosing. The OPT application is a personal application for which you are wholly responsible; the application preparation and USCIS case decision will vary depending on the facts of your particular case. Slater Center staff will attempt to provide you with the most current guidance, but please be mindful that USCIS may change its interpretation of policies, procedures, regulations, and eligibility requirements at any time. The Slater Center is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from USCIS.