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.

Applying for OPT STEM

  • 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.
  1. Review the OPT STEM Tutorial
  2. Review the instructions to complete ICE Form I-983
  3. Review and complete the STEM OPT Handout and STEM I-20 Request Form
  4. Submit the required documents listed on the STEM extension handout via email to cie@csueastbay.edu
    • Once all documents are received and completed/accurate, processing time is 3-5 business days. Please plan ahead!
  5. 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 scan the signed copy for the application.
  6. You will compile the required list of documents to submit to USCIS after receiving your new STEM OPT I-20.
  7. Submit your application to USCIS
    1. Option 1 (RECOMMENDED): Submit your application online via www.uscis.gov. Please the OPT STEM Tutorial for instructions.
    2. 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.
  8. Wait 2-4 months to receive work authorization.
  9. Submit a copy of your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to CIE. 
  10. Report your validation and evaluation reports on time.

Premium processing provides expedited processing on Form I-765 for an additional governmental fee. In exchange for the additional fee, USCIS guarantees that it will take some adjudicative action (approval, denial, request for evidence, notice of intent to deny) within 30 calendar days.

If the application requires the submission of additional evidence or a response to a notice of intent to deny, the 30 day premium processing time period will stop and reset. A new premium processing time period will begin when USCIS receives a response to the request for evidence or notice of intent to deny.

How expensive is premium processing?

The current fee is $1,685.

How do I request premium processing?

You may submit the form (Form I-907) online through your USCIS online account You can submit the I-907 at the same time as your I-765 or at a later date. The fee for the Form I-907 is an entirely different fee from the I-765 fee. 

Remember – you must receive your endorsed STEM OPT I-20 from CIE before you submit Form I-765 and Form I-907 to USCIS.

Should I request premium processing?

Ultimately, the decision is yours. Remember you can continue to work for up to 180 days while your OPT STEM application is pending as long as it was submitted before your Post Completion OPT EAD expired. 

You can check USCIS’ Case Processing Times by following these steps:

  • Go to: https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times/
  • In the “Form” field, select “I-765”
  • In the “Form Category” field, select “Based on a request by a qualified F-1 academic student [(c)(3)]
  • In the “Field Office or “Service Center”, select “Potomac Service Center”

Maintaining F-1 Status while on OPT STEM

You must continue to report all changes to your residential address, contact information (email and phone) and employer changes within 10 days while on OPT STEM. 

You are responsible for submitting validation reports and I-983 evaluations during your OPT STEM period. Please refer to our OPT STEM Reporting page for more information about reporting changes as well as submitting your validation and evaluations to CIE. 

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.