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How to Apply for STEM OPT

How to Apply for STEM OPT

You are eligible to apply for the STEM OPT Extension once you have less than 90 days remaining in your 12 Month Post Completion OPT period. If you are planning to apply for the 24 Month STEM OPT Extension with USCIS, please read this carefully. We recommend that you apply for the 24 Month STEM OPT Extension as early as possible once you're eligible. 

Before you start the 24 Month STEM OPT Extension application process, please review information about eligibility, the application process with USCIS, and the required reporting requirements via the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Study in the States - STEM OPT Hub. Please note that the I-983 Training Plan template is also available on the STEM OPT Hub. 

Eligibility Requirements:
  • The applicant must hold a Bachelors degree or higher in a eligible STEM field from an accredited, SEVP certified school. To find out if your major is STEM eligible, please review the STEM Designated Degree Program List from the Department of Homeland Security. Please note you will need to refer to your major and CIP code on your current I-20.
  • The applicant must work at least 20 hours per week or more with an employer that is currently enrolled in the Department of Homeland Security/USCIS's E-Verify Employment Eligibility Program. More information about E-Verify can be found here.
  • Employment must be a bona fide employee-employer relationship. Please visit USCIS's website for more information about the nature of that relationship.
  • Applicant must not have accrued more than 90 days of unemployment while on their 12 Month Post Completion OPT period.
  • USCIS must receive your 24 Month STEM OPT Extension application before the end date of your 12 Month Post Completion OPT period, as noted on your EAD card. 
    • Please note that once your 24 Month STEM OPT Extension application has been timely filed with USCIS, you are allowed to continue working up to 180 days past your current 12 Month OPT's EAD end date.

Requesting a STEM OPT Extension I-20 from OIS:

Due to the anticipated heavy volume of STEM OPT applications submitted to OIS, please make sure you plan ahead. Please allow no less than 5-8 business days for OIS to process your STEM OPT Extension I-20 request.   

To start your STEM OPT extension request, please log into your OIS Portal account, go to the "Student Updates & Requests" tab and click on "OPT-STEM Extension Request".

If you have any questions, please email