The STEM OPT extension is a 24-month period of temporary training that directly relates to an F-1 student's program of study in an approved STEM field.

On May 10, 2016, this extension effectively replaced the previous 17-month STEM OPT extension.

Eligible F-1 students with STEM degrees who finish their program of study and participate in an initial period of regular post-completion OPT (often for 12 months) can apply for a STEM OPT extension. Students may not apply for STEM OPT extensions during the 60-day grace period following an initial period of regular post-completion OPT.

Timeline: 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 expiration date.
  • Apply as early as 90 days before your current 12-month OPT expires.


To qualify for the 24-month STEM OPT extension, you must:

  • Be in F-1 status
  • Be currently working in a period of post-completion OPT
  • Have a bachelor's degree or higher degree in an eligible STEM field
    • You may be eligible to use a prior STEM degree for this requirement; to use a prior STEM degree, you must:
      • Have received your most recent degree (which does not need to be STEM-related) from a currently accredited Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school in the U.S.
      • Have received your prior, qualifying STEM degree within 10 years of applying for the STEM OPT extension.
      • The qualifying STEM degree must be on the Department of Homeland Security's STEM Designated Degree Program List at the time you submit your STEM OPT extension application (rather than at the time you received the degree).
  • Have a job offer that meets the following requirements:
    • The job is with an employer enrolled in the USCIS E-Verify program
    • The job offers at least 20 hours of work per week
    • The job will provide formal training and learning objectives directly related to your qualifying STEM degree
  • Be able to complete the I-983 Training Plan with your employer
    • Students must obtain the Form I-983 before they request the STEM OPT I-20. The STEM OPT student and their prospective employer must work together to complete this form before the student applies for the STEM OPT extension. The completed I-983 form can be scanned and emailed to A STEM Extension I-20 Request form must also be submitted.
    • Upon receipt of Form I-983 and the STEM Extension I-20 Request Form, the STEM OPT I-20 will be issued and mailed to the student. Please note that your Employment Authorization Number can be found on the back of your EAD card. It is the first line that begins with USA plus the numbers following.

How to Apply


Please visit USCIS - Application for Employment Authorization and follow their instructions.

Please email the completed I-983 form to before requesting the STEM Extension I-20. You will need to complete the STEM Extension Requested I-20 form, as well.

NOTE: Proof of Institution Accreditation is only required for students applying based on a previous degree at another University.

Stem Extension OPT,  Category C3C

Recommended Steps for Completing the I-765 Application Online

  • Create your online USCIS account
  • Gather the following documents:
    • Digital 2x2 color passport photo that meets USCIS specifications
    • A scan of your passport photograph page
    • A scan of the front and back of any previous EAD cards
    • A scan of any previous I-20s with CPT or OPT information
    • A digital copy of your I-20 with an OPT recommendation
      • Must be issued within the last 30 days for post-completion OPT and within the last 60 days for STEM extension OPT. You MUST consult with ISS to receive a new I-20 before filing for your OPT online.
      • The I-20 must be signed by an ISS advisor and by you. You can use a digital or handwritten signature.
  • Your most recent form I-94 (Select "Get Most Recent Form I-94")
  • A credit card with which you can pay the filing fee

File a form online

  • Application for Employment Authorization (I-765)

Getting Started

  • Basis of eligibility
    • What is your degree?
      • List your STEM-eligible major and degree level
    • What is your employer’s name as listed in E-Verify?
      • List your employer’s name
    • What is your employer’s E-Verify company identification number or a valid E-Verify client company identification number?
      • List the 5 – 7 digit number here. Note that this IS NOT the same thing as the Employer Identification (EIN) number that is required on the Form I-983.
    • Reason for applying
      • Check initial permission to accept employment (as this is your first time applying for category C3C)
      • Have you previously filed Form I-765
        • Check Yes
      • Preparer and interpreter information
        • Is someone assisting you with completing this application:
          • Check No

About You

  • Your Name
    • What is your current legal name?
    • Have you used any other names since birth?
  • Your contact information
    • How may we contact you?
      • Daytime telephone number
      • Email address
      • What is your current U.S. mailing address?
      • Is your current mailing address the same as your physical address?
  • Describe yourself
    • What is your gender?
    • What is your marital status?
  • When and where you were born
    • What is your city, town, or village of birth?
    • What is your state or province of birth?
    • What is your country of birth?
    • What is your date of birth?
  • Your immigration information
    • What is your country of citizenship or nationality?
    • What is your Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Record Number?
    • When did you last arrive in the United States?
      • Date of Arrival
      • Place of arrival (airport)
      • Status at last arrival
        • Most likely F1
    • What is the passport number of your most recently issued passport?
    • What is your travel document number (if any)? likely leave this section blank
    • What is the expiration date of your passport or travel document?
    • What country issued your passport or travel document?
    • What is your current immigration status or category?
      • Most likely F1
    • What is your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Number?
      • Take a look at the top left of your most recent I-20. Your SEVIS ID is listed there.
    • Other Information
      • What is your A-number?
        • You should include the USCIS number listed on your post-completion OPT EAD card here.
      • What is your USCIS Online Account Number?
        • You will most likely check “I do not have or know my USCIS Online Account Number.”
      • Has the Social Security Administration (SSA) ever officially issued a Social Security Card to you?
      • What is your Social Security number?


  • 2x2 photo
  • Form I-94
  • Previous Employment Authorization Document if applicable. If you do not have a former EAD, you should upload a copy of the photo page of your passport here.
  • I-20s with former CPT or OPT details, if applicable. You should include previous degree level CPT and OPT here if available. If you do not have these documents available, see “Additional Information” below.
  • Form I-20
    • This is the I-20 you will receive from Dr. Brooke after submitting your STEM OPT I-20 Request FormDO NOT upload a previous I-20 without a STEM OPT recommendation on page 2.
    • The I-20 must be signed by an ISS advisor and by you. You can use a digital or handwritten signature.
  • Your transcript shows proof of the STEM-eligible major. SEMO diplomas do not show the major, just the degree, so you must upload your transcript.
  • Institution Accreditation
    • You do not need to upload anything for this section unless you are applying for STEM OPT based on a PREVIOUS degree; as in a degree before the one you obtained at SEMO.

Additional Information        

  • If you have previously authorized CPT or OPT and do not have former I-20s with these details, you should do the following:
    • Section: Evidence
    • Page: Post-completion CPT or OPT
    • Question: Post-completion CPT or OPT
    • Additional Information:
      • Type of previously authorized practical training (CPT, OPT, etc.)
      • Dates of previously authorized practical training
      • Application status (approved, denied, or withdrawn)
      • Degree Level (bachelor's, master's, PhD, etc.)
      • Receipt or Card Number if known (this can be found on the I-797 Approval Notice you received at the time your OPT was approved.)

Review and Submit

  • Review your application
  • Read and agree to the “applicant’s statement”
  • Digitally sign
  • Pay the application fee
  • Submit your STEM OPT application

Application Materials if applying by mail (Not recommended)

  • Completed I-765 form
    • USCIS will mail your employment card to the address you give on Form I-765, please type your information directly on the I-765 form and print
    • Part 1, check box 1.c.: Renewal of my permission to accept employment
    • Complete questions as they are asked. We have provided some helpful advice for the following questions that may not be self-explanatory:
    • Questions 8 and 9: Most students do not have these numbers, leave them blank.
    • Question 12: Select "Yes"
    • Question 20: Remember to put your birthdate in this format MM/DD/YEAR
    • Question 21C: Most students don't have this, leave it blank 
    • Question 27: Write "C" "3" and "C" in the boxes.
    • Question 28a.: Example: "Masters of Science" or "Bachelors of Science"
    • Question 28c: Employer's E-Verify number
    • Skip to Part 3. and select the box by 1.a.
    • Complete the contact info section and remember to sign and date after printing. Leave the rest of the form blank.
  • $410 filing fee -- Personal check or money order payable to "US Department of Homeland Security"
  • Two identical color photos must be 2" by 2" (passport style). Print your name on the back of the photos lightly with a pen. Put your photos in a small plastic bag.
    • For more information & samples, click here 
    • Do NOT staple your photographs to your application
    • Do NOT cut your photos or glue/tape them to the application
  • A copy of your current employment authorization letter from USCIS (the green I-797 approval letter you received in the mail prior to the EAD card) and a copy of the front/back of your current EAD card.
  • Copy of STEM REQUESTED I-20 that has been issued in the last 30 days. Be sure to sign it before copying it.  Note: The USCIS no longer requires copies of all old I-20s.  If you are applying based on a previous STEM degree and not your current degree, you will need to include that I-20 along with a letter explaining you are applying based on a previous degree during which you did not use a STEM Extension.
  • Copy of your I-94 record
  • Copy of your visa page and passport bio page (the one with your photo) -- Please make sure your passport is valid and has a validity period of at least 6 months prior to filing for OPT. If your passport is valid for less than 6 months, please apply at your consulate for a renewal and include proof of having applied for the renewal in your OPT application.
  • Letter from your employer with the following information: employment start date, job title, job description, salary, E-verify number, and employer's name in the E-verify system.
  • Photocopy of your SEMO Diploma OR a copy of your final official transcript. If your major is not listed on the diploma, you should also send a copy of your final transcript. If you have misplaced your final transcript, you may request a new one. For transcript request instructions, please visit:
  • Complete Form G-1145 E-Notification of Application/Petition Form to receive e-mail notifications about your case.
    • Note: If you include the G-1145 form with your application, USCIS will send you an e-notification within 1-2 weeks from the date they receive your I-765 EAD (OPT) application. They will also mail you a paper receipt notice within 2-4 weeks. Once you have received your receipt number, you can track the status of your individual case using the case status search feature of the USCIS website. You may elect to receive email alerts about your case status from this website.
  • Mail your application within 30 days from the date the STEM OPT I-20 was printed. Make a copy of all documents for your record, paper clip all documents together, and mail by trackable Express Mail (UPS, FedEx) to:

Attn: I-765 C03
131 South Dearborn - 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517

Please remember to review the STEM Reporting Requirements below...

Reporting Requirements

During OPT STEM Extension Period To maintain legal F-1 status during your 24-month STEM OPT authorization period, you must report the following information to OIES:

Every Six Months

Confirm to OIES through our online reporting form:

  • Legal name
  • Residential or mailing address
  • Employer name and address
  • Status of current employment

You must report any changes to the above information, including loss of employment, within 10 days of the change.

Every Year

You must submit an annual self-evaluation to your international student advisor about the progress of your training experience. This self-evaluation must be signed by you and your employer in the I-983 Training Plan.

Within 10 Days of the Following Changes

  • Material changes to an existing I-983 Training Plan
  • Change in employer
  • Unemployment

Employer Noncompliance

If you believe your STEM OPT employer is not complying with the terms and conditions of the 24-month STEM OPT extension regulations, the Form I-983 instructions, and the completed Form I-983 on file with OIES, you may:

  • Contact the Student and Exchange Visitor Program at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by following the instructions found on
  • Report violations through this Homeland Security Investigations tip submission form.

There are a number of enforcement and oversight mechanisms to help ensure compliance, including reporting requirements, employer site visits, periodic evaluation of a student’s training, and required notification of any material changes to or deviations from the Training Plan.

Please note that if you believe that your employer is not complying with the 24-month STEM OPT extension regulations and Form I-983 instructions, you should leave that practical training opportunity and report your unemployment to OIES. A period of student unemployment, caused by an employer’s failure to comply with program requirements, on its own will not affect your status so long as you report changes in employment status and adhere to the overall unemployment limits.


Students, designated school officials and employers can use this page to learn about the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) rules and regulations for the optional practical training (OPT) extension for F-1 students with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degrees.

Frequently Asked Questions

STEM OPT Hub - from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) Study in the States

OPT Extension for STEM Students (STEM OPT)  - from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

I-20s from June 2015 or earlier

The CIP code is printed at the top of page three of your I-20. The code is 6 digits long (xx.xxxx). Once you find your code, you can consult the entire list of individual eligible CIP codes for the STEM extension available on the SEVP website.

I-20s from July 2015 to present

The CIP code is printed next to your major on page one of your I-20.


Yes, if one of the degrees is on the STEM Designated Degree Program List and any job worked while on the extension is related to your STEM degree.


If you have properly filed for a 24-month STEM extension, the period of extension starts the day after the expiration of your original OPT period.

Yes. Your work authorization is automatically extended for up to 180 days while the 24-month STEM extension application is pending. There is not interim documentation of the extended authorization. If your employer needs information about what documents to collect as proof of extended work authorization, please refer to them to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services I-9 Central.

OIES is still researching this question. It may be advisable to not change employers until after the extension is approved. Note that any change in employment requires that you submit a new, completed I-983 Training Plan to OIES.

No. You must wait to receive your new EAD prior to traveling.
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