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Optional Practical Training STEM Extensions


If you are an F1 student currently on OPT, and your current OPT is based on having received a Bachelor's, Master's or PhD degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics) field, and you have a job offer from a company enrolled in "E-Verify" then you may apply for an extension of the regular 12 month OPT period.  The STEM OPT extension will be granted for 24 months.

Procedures to Apply

The application for the STEM OPT extension requires two photos, a fee, and copies of documents that the first OPT application required. You will find all of the instructions in the STEM Extension Packet at the top of this page. In addition, before an ISS advisor can recommend the STEM OPT extension and give you an updated I-20, you must have provided a "training plan" (I-983) to International Student Services.  Once you have completed the training plan with your employer, email a scan of the completed I-983 training plan AND a scan of the completed STEM OPT I-20 Request Form to After you receive the new I-20 with the STEM OPT recommendation from our office, you will have to send a complete OPT application to the appropriate USCIS office with all the documents you sent the first time you applied for OPT. You will not need to submit the I-983 training plan to USCIS with your application.


When to Apply

Students with a STEM degree and currently in the 12-month OPT period:

  • USCIS must receive your OPT STEM extension application before your current 12-month OPT EAD card expiration date.
  • Apply as early as 90 days before your current 12-month OPT EAD card expiration date.
Applying for a STEM Extension Based on a Previously Obtained STEM Degree

The 24-month rule permits students to use a previously obtained STEM degree from an accredited U.S. educational institution as a basis to apply for a STEM OPT extension, even if it did not serve as the basis for the student’s standard 12-month post-completion OPT, under the following conditions:

  • The prior degree was conferred no more than 10 years before the student’s DSO recommends a STEM OPT extension in SEVIS based on that degree;
  • The prior degree was conferred by a U.S. educational institution that is accredited and SEVP-certified at the time the student’s DSO recommends the student for the 24-month OPT extension;
  • The prior degree is in a degree program category included on the current STEM Designated Degree Program List at the time of the DSO recommendation. The practical training opportunity that is the basis for the 24-month STEM OPT extension must directly relate to the prior degree;
  • The prior degree was actually conferred (i.e., a student who uses a prior degree cannot take advantage of the “all but thesis or dissertation” exception).

For example, a Bachelor's Electrical Engineering degree student who has not had a STEM extension based on that degree who later pursues OPT based on his MBA will be eligible to apply for the 24-month STEM OPT based on the Bachelor's Electrical Engineering degree. This student would also need to meet the above requirements.

The following form must be included in the documents sent to if you are applying for this type of work authorization: STEM Extension Request Based on a Prior Degree

Tips for Completing I-765 Form
  • Item #3 – List your own address. If you are moving or have an unsecure mailbox, ISS recommends that you either find a friend to accept your mail or obtain a U.S. post office box. If using a friends address use C/O
  • Item #14 – Put your I-94  #
  • Item # 15 (“Which USCIS office?” and “Dates”) –You will find the office on either the I-797C Notice of Action (Receipt) or I-797 Notice of Action (Approval Notice). It will be the Vermont or Potomac Service Center. For dates, put the start and end dates on your EAD.
  • Item #20 – Enter the code for the OPT STEM Extension: (c)(3)(C)
  • Applicant’s Signature – Sign in BLUE ink, and put your telephone number and the date on the form
Tips for Completing Form I-983

All questions on the Form I-983 must be answered clearly and completely. Incomplete forms will not be accepted and may delay the processing of your STEM OPT extension application.

Please click on SAMPLE below for assistance.


Types of Employment Allowed on a 24-Month OPT STEM Extension

Volunteer/unpaid positions and self-employment are NOT allowed. Other types of employment are also problematic- including employment through employment agencies, multiple employer arrangements, sole proprietorships, employment through ‘‘temp'' agencies, employment through consulting firm arrangements that provide labor for hire, and other relationships that do not constitute a bona fide employer-employee relationship. STEM-eligible employers must have e-Verify & EIN numbers and the student must have a "bona fide employer-employee relationship." DHS confirms that students cannot qualify for STEM OPT extensions unless they will be bona fide employees of the employer signing the Training Plan, and the employer that signs the Training Plan must be the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience.

Reporting Requirements for Students on a 24-Month STEM Extension

You must continue to report to ISS throughout the 24 month STEM OPT period. Please read carefully the following reporting requirements:


  1. Email a copy of your STEM EAD to International Student Services
    Once your STEM OPT is approved and you receive a new Employment Authorization Document (EAD) please email a copy of it to Please be sure to include your name and University ID in the subject of your email.
  2. Report your employment on the ISS OPT Reporting link
  3. Mark your calendar to submit special ANNUAL STEM OPT Reports

    Form I-983 Annual Evaluations
    You must submit two self-evaluations signed by your employer during the 24 Month STEM Extension. You will receive an automated e-mail reminder 30 days before each Annual Evaluation is due.

    Annual Evaluation #1: Complete “Evaluation of Student Progress” on page 5 of the Form I-983 and submit it to at the end of your first year of STEM OPT.

    Annual Evaluation #2: Complete “Final Evaluation of Student Progress” on page 5 of the Form I-983 and submit it to at the end of your second year of STEM OPT.


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