Applying for STEM OPT

Certain F-1 students who receive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees may apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion optional practical training (OPT). The application for the 24-month STEM extension is very similar to the initial 12 months of OPT application, but with some additional reporting requirements and additional documents needed.

Requirements for STEM OPT 

  • Have been granted OPT and currently be in a valid period of post-completion OPT
  • Have earned a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree that is considered STEM
  • Company must be e-verified at the time student applies.
  • Must be employed more than 20 hours per week per employer.
  • You must apply for work authorization by electronically filing a Form I-765 and pay filing fee.

When to Apply for STEM OPT

USCIS must receive your completed STEM application prior to the initial EAD expiration, not more than 90 days before the initial EAD expiration, and within 60 days of OISE endorsing your I-20 for the STEM extension. 

How to Apply for STEM OPT

Step 1: Check to see if company is e-verified.

  • Employer must be currently enrolled in E-Verify
  • Cannot proceed with application until employer is on E-Verify website.

Step 2: Prepare the following documents:

  1. Copy of the completed and signed Form I-983 Training Plan. The I-983 is not sent to USCIS as part of the formal application packet, but it could be requested by USCIS during the adjudication process. (See “I-983 STEM” link for tips on completing the form.)
  2. Application filing fee of $470 (credit card for when application is filed online).  
  3. Digital Passport Photo. 2×2 inches (51 x 51 mm) color photo that meets USCIS specifications. Want to scan an existing photo? Must be a photo taken within the last 30 days and it must not have been used in any other applications. Also, picture must be scanned at a resolution of 300 pixels per inch (12 pixels per mm). To check if an image is eligible, use the photo tool found here: or If you don’t know where to go, an option is: Claremont Photo, 241 Harvard Ave., Claremont, 91711. An iOS application for iPhones that students have used with success is Passport Photo 
  4. Electronic copy the front and back of any current and previous Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) and EAD card. 
  5. Electronic copy of diploma or copy of transcript showing all degree coursework was completed.
  6. Electronic copy of  I-94.

Step 3: Submit the Pre-OPT Review Form, where you will upload all of your documents.

Step 4: OISE will review your documents and issue you an OPT STEM Extension Requested I-20.

  • OPT STEM Extension I-20 will be included in the application filed online.

Step 5: Final review of all documents by OISE and assist you in filing OPT STEM Extension online.

Additional Resources