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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.
The application for the STEM OPT extension requires two photos, a fee, and copies of documents that the first OPT application required. For step-by-step instructions read the ISS STEM Extension Packet. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Students with a STEM degree and currently in the 12-month OPT period:
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:
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.
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.
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.
You must continue to report to ISS throughout the 24 month STEM OPT period. Please read carefully the following reporting requirements:
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 OPTSTEM@rit.edu 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 OPTSTEM@rit.edu at the end of your second year of STEM OPT.