STEM Extension

Students who hold degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) may be eligible to apply for an additional 24 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT), for a total of 36 months of OPT.  Please check the STEM Designated Degree Program List to determine if you are eligible to apply for an extension.  You must also be working for an E-Verify employer.

An OPT STEM extension application MUST be received by USCIS before your current OPT ends.  You can mail your application to USCIS no earlier than 90 days prior to your OPT end date.

It might be possible to apply for a STEM extension based on a prior U.S. degree.  The prior degree must have been issued in within the past 10 years from an accredited and SEVP-certified school.  Please contact your OISS advisor to find out if you are eligible.

Follow the detailed steps below under “How to Apply” to correctly complete, prepare, and submit your STEM Extension Application.

STEP 1

 

Complete and submit OISS's online OPT STEM Extension Request eForm

  • Login to eOISS
    • Under the F-1 Practical Training heading, choose “OPT STEM Extension Request”
  • When completing your eForm, you will need to upload:

 

STEP 2

 

  • An OISS Advisor will review your eForm and contact you with any questions. This may take 3-5 business days.
  • If appropriate, the OISS Advisor will issue a new Form I-20 with a recommendation for a STEM OPT Extension.

 

STEP 3

 

Compile the following documents to prepare your application that you will mail to USCIS:

Application Documents (in order from top to bottom):

  • 2 passport style photographs less than 30 days old (with your SEVIS Number written lightly in pencil on the back)
  • Personal Check, Money Order, or Certified Bank Check for filing fee made out to the "U.S. Department of Homeland Security" (do NOT abbreviate). Check the current filing fee.
  • Completed Form G-1145
  • Completed and original Form I-765 hand signed in black ink
  • Copy of new Form I-20 with OISS Advisor's recommendation for STEM OPT. Remember to sign it.
  • Copies of ALL previously issued I-20s (front and back – meaning pages 1 and 2 of each I-20) (order them from newest down to oldest)
  • Copy of your passport photo page and passport expiration page
  • Copy of your student visa
  • Copy of most recent I-94 record
  • Copy of previous EAD (front and back)
  • Proof of graduation (a scanned copy of your diploma or transcript showing degree conferred)

*We recommend single-sided photocopies and do not staple your documents together.

*Notice that you do not include your Form I-983 in your application to USCIS.

 

STEP 4

 

Submit a complete application to the USCIS no earlier than 90 days before your OPT expiration date.

Mail your application to:

(Effective January 21, 2021)

For Priority Mail (USPS) deliveries:
USCIS
PO Box 805373
Chicago, IL 60680

For FedEx, UPS, & DHL deliveries:
USCIS
Attn: I-765 C03
131 South Dearborn, 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517

 

Note: STEM OPT Filing Online

 

At this time, OISS does not recommend the use of the USCIS online filing system for STEM OPT applications. Students that chose to file online do so at their own risk and must understand that OISS is unable to provide assistance with online filings.

Students are advised to submit paper copies of the I-765 and supporting documents to USCIS for processing. This long-standing application method has proven to be reliable and successful.

With the online filing system being new, there is an increased risk for complications and difficulties. Therefore, until reliability data is available and supports the use of online filing, paper filing is the advised application method.

If you do wish to file online, you can do so only after you complete Steps 1, 2, and 3.

NOTEOnce authorization to engage in OPT has been granted and an EAD has been issued, authorization may not be rescinded or canceled. Consult with OISS before taking any action that may jeopardize your OPT.

A student must:

  • Work in a paid position for an E-Verify employer at least 20 hours per week
  • Work in a position related to his/her STEM major
  • Not have more than 150 days of unemployment time during the entire period of OPT (90 days for Post-Completion OPT; 60 days for STEM extension)
  • Not be self-employed
  • Report any changes to the Form I-983 on file within 10 days
  • Report if his/her employer is not abiding by the terms of the Form I-983
  • Every six months you must confirm your employer and local  living address information
    • Login to eOISS and complete OISS's online OPT STEM 6 Month Reporting eForm
  • Within 10 days of accepting a new job offer:
    • Login to eOISS and complete OISS's online OPT STEM Employment Update Form
  • Submit a fully completed self-evaluation (on Form I-983) at the end of the first and second twelve month periods of the STEM extension
    • Login to eOISS and complete OISS's online OPT STEM Evaluation eForm