Extension Option: STEM Fields
STEM Field Majors
F-1 students whose OPT is based on a Bachelor's, Master's or PhD degree in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) fields, as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, may be eligible for a one-time 17-month extension of OPT. View a current list of STEM-eligible majors.
In order to be eligible for this extension, students applying for this benefit must:
- Already be on post completion OPT based on a STEM-eligible degree.
- Be employed by, or have a job offer from, an employer who is registered with the E-Verify employment verification system.
- Have fewer than 90 days of unemployment while on OPT.
- Hold an appropriate degree in one of the DHS-approved STEM fields.
- Not have previously been approved for a 17-month extension of OPT.
- Submit the OPT application to USCIS prior to the expiration of the current post-completion OPT (USCIS must receive the application before the expiration date on the current EAD).
Apply for STEM Extension
Due to processing and mailing times, OIS requires students to submit this extension request at least forty-five (45) days prior to the current OPT end date.
Students who file a timely application for an extension will be able to continue employment while the extension application is pending with USCIS, until it is approved or denied, or for 180 days, whichever comes first.
Checklist for OPT STEM extension application:
- Completed and signed Form I-765
- Two, color, passport-style photographs
- Copy of the front and back of your current I-94 card
- Copy of your passport identity page and any extension pages
- Copy of the front and back of your current OPT card
- Copies of all previous I-20s
- Check or money order made payable to the Department of Homeland Security (see USCIS website for current filing fees)
- Copy of new I-20 f, with recommendation for OPT extension
- Submit one of the following as evidence that your degree meets the STEM degree/major requirements: official transcript, unofficial transcript, or copy of diploma showing your degree level and program of study
Unemployment Issues while on STEM-based OPT
Days of unemployment should be tracked as outlined here. However, students with an approved STEM OPT extension will receive another 30 days of unemployment time for a total of 120 days for the entire period of post-completion OPT.