STEM OPT Overview

The 24-month STEM OPT extension benefit went into effect Monday, May 10, 2016. This new benefit replaces the previous 17-month OPT extension option.

The STEM OPT extension allows some students with science, technology, engineering, or math degrees to apply to extend their post-completion OPT authorization. Students with STEM degrees and currently in their 12-month OPT period should review the eligibility requirements, application timeline, and instructions below.

Students with pending 17-month OPT applications:

You will receive a "request for evidence" (RFE) from USCIS to allow you to demonstrate your eligibility for the 24-month STEM OPT extension. See the STEM Application Procedures page.
Students with approved 17-month OPT extensions:

  • All existing 17-month EADs will remain valid until the EAD expires (assuming you are fulfilling the OPT requirements and maintaining F1 status).
  • If you are eligible and want to apply for the additional seven months of STEM OPT, you must submit a new application to USCIS by August 8, 2016, or possibly earlier, depending on your EAD expiration date. DHS will not automatically convert 17-month extensions into 24-month extensions.


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