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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 optstem@rit.edu 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.
Is Your Employment STEM eligible?

Check with your employer to be sure your job is eligible for STEM OPT. If ALL of the following are TRUE for your employment situation, you and can apply for STEM based on that job. Every job you have on STEM must meet all of these criteria.

  • Employer is E-Verified
  • Employer will provide the student with formal training and learning objectives
  • Student will be working at least 20 hours per week
  • Student is not self-employed
  • Student is not an independent contractor
  • Student is not in an unpaid position
  • Student is not in a volunteer position
  • There is a bona-fide employer-employee relationship
  • Student is not employed by a staffing or temporary agency to work at another company’s worksite.
  • Student is not employed through a consulting firm arrangement that provides labor for hire
  • The employer that signs the Form I-983 is the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience.
     

If your employment situation does not meet ALL of the criteria above, work with your employer to see if arrangements can be made to make the employment situation eligible for STEM. For example, can your employer hire you directly instead of through a temporary or staffing agency? Can they enroll in E-Verify?
 

For more information please read the following information:

  1. Optional Practical Training Extension for STEM Students (STEM OPT)
  2. USCIS Tightens Language on Employer-Employee Relationship and Third Party Placement for STEM OPT Students
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 optstem@rit.edu if you are applying for this type of work authorization: STEM Extension Request Based on a Prior Degree

Tips for Completing I-765 Form

Complete instructions for filing the I-765 can be found at the link below under “Instructions for Form I-765” https://www.uscis.gov/i-765

REMEMBER TO INCLUDE ALL 7 PAGES OF THE I-765 EVEN IF SOME ARE BLANK

Part 1. Reason for Applying
Check Box (1.c.) Renewal of Permission to Accept Employment
Be sure to attach a copy of your previous EAD Cards

Part 2. Information About You – Your US Mailing Address
You must provide a valid mailing address in the United States. You may list a valid U.S. residence, APO, or commercial address. You may also list a U.S. Post Office address (PO Box) if that is how you receive your mail. If your mail is sent to someone other than yourself, please include an “In Care Of Name” as part of your mailing address. If your U.S. mailing address is in a U.S. territory and it contains an urbanization name, list the urbanization name in the “In Care Of Name” space provided. USCIS will send your EAD to this address. Do not use the attorney’s, other legal representative’s address or the ISS mailing address.
 

Part 2. Information About You – U.S. Physical Address
If your U.S. physical address is the same as your mailing address, just type in your mailing address again. If it is different, type the address.


Part 2. Information About You – Information About Your Last Arrival in the United States
21.a. - Put your I-94 # https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/

26. – Put your SEVIS ID Number (this is located on the top of your I-20)
 

Part 2. Information About You – Information about your Eligibility Category
- Enter the code for the OPT STEM Extension: (c)(3)(C)
28.a. - Enter the name of your STEM degree
 

Part 3. Applicant’s Signature
Sign in BLUE ink
 

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.



NOTE:

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 optstem@rit.edu 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 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.

 

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