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24 Month OPT STEM Extension
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 CIE and submitted to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) for processing.
Who is eligible to apply for the STEM extension?
- You must have graduated within the last 5 years with a degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics.
- The degree code (CIP code) listed on your I-20 must match 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 or cannot find the degree code on your I-20 please contact the CIE office.
- You must have 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.
Important Note: Due to COVID, we will currently accept handwritten signatures, Adobe Docu-signatures (verified), Apple Pen signatures, and handwritten signatures that have been scanned and pasted into the signature field.
How do I apply for the STEM extension?
- Review the OPT STEM Tutorial
- Review and complete the STEM OPT Handout
- Submit the required documents listed on the STEM extension handout via email to firstname.lastname@example.org or an international student advisor.
- A new I-20 will be issued and emailed to you. You must sign page 1 of your I-20 when you receive it then copy it for the application. You will compile the required list of documents to submit to USCIS after receiving your new STEM OPT I-20.
- Submit your application to USCIS
- Option 1 (RECOMMENDED): Submit your application online via www.uscis.gov. Please the OPT STEM Tutorial for instructions.
- Option 2: Mail the required documents to USCIS within 60 days of OPT STEM recommendation by CIE and before the end date of your Post Completion OPT EAD. Review our OPT STEM Mailing instructions.
- Wait 2-4 months to receive work authorization.
- Submit a copy of your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to CIE.
- Report your validation and evaluation reports on time.
End of your STEM OPT
Your F-1 status remains valid until 60 days after the expiration of your EAD card. During this 60-day grace period, you are no longer authorized to work, however you may legally stay in the U.S. If you depart the U.S. during the 60-day grace period, you are no longer eligible to re-enter under your previous F-1 visa status.
- Depart the USA- if you plan to depart the USA after the end of your OPT, please make sure you depart before the end of your 60 day grace period. Please complete and submit the final evaluation of the I-983 and submit to CIE and let us know your departure plans.
- End STEM OPT early- if you decide to abandon your OPT and depart the USA, please complete and submit the final evaluation of the I-983 and submit to CIE and let us know your departure plans.
- Change Immigration Status- If you plan to change your immigration status in the USA, please let CIE if this is completed before the end of your OPT.
- Transfer- If you plan to start a new degree at another college or university, please make sure the Transfer procedure is completed before the end of your 60 day grace period.