F-1 students who completed a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in a STEM field and are currently engaged in Post-Completion OPT may apply for a 24 Month STEM Extension of their OPT if they have a job or job offer from an E- Verify employer.
F-1 students may be eligible for a 24 month extension of OPT if they:
- Are currently participating in a 12-month period of approved, Post-Completion OPT and apply in advance of the current OPT’s expiration date.
- Are applying within 90 days prior to completion of a current 12-month Post-Completion Optional Practical Training period.
- Have completed a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral degree in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM) as identified by the Department of Homeland Security.
- Are employed in a job directly related to their major area of study.
- Work for, or have accepted employment with, an employer enrolled in the E- Verify Program. Please check with the employer’s HR department to confirm if the company is enrolled.
- Have submitted a completed Training Plan Form I-983. The Form I-983 is available at: Study in the States
- Are properly maintaining F-1 status:
- Have not been unemployed more than 90 days during current OPT period. Violating this rule may affect eligibility for further benefits.
- Have kept the Office of International Affairs informed of their correct position name, employer name and address, place of employment and interruptions of employment.
Required Documents and Procedures
- Completed USCIS Form I-765, with the eligibility code in Item #20: (c)(3)(C) for a 24-month extension and list the degree in Item #17 that appeared on your I-20. Please note that this may be different from the name used by CMU.
- OPT extension request form; completed by student and employer
- Photocopies of previous I-20(s)
- Photocopy of current EAD card
- Photocopy of CMU transcript or diploma stating STEM degree
- Photocopy of I-94 card (front and back) and copies of your passport (biographic and U.S. visa pages)
- Check or Money Order for $410 payable to Department of Homeland Security.
- 2 passport style photographs. Write your name and I-94 number on the back of your photographs
- Optional: Employment letter including job description and how the employment relates to the STEM field
Please schedule an appointment and bring the above documents to the OIA in addition to the completed 24 Month STEM request. If you are out of town, contact your OIA advisor by email for instructions. It may take 10 days for the office to process your application by mail so please plan accordingly. Please note that you will receive a new I-20 when applying for a stem request.
Mail the required documents to the appropriate USCIS Service Center based on your address.
You will receive a letter of receipt within 10 to 30 days from the USCIS Service Center. It may take up to 90 days to obtain the EAD (Employment Authorization) card.
- A STEM degree obtained at a US university prior to a student's current degree may be the basis for a STEM extension.
- If a STEM student receives a 24-month extension, the limit on unemployment is no more than 120 days, applied to the entire 36-month period of post-completion OPT.
- Employment authorization is automatically extended while a timely-filed 24-month OPT EAD extension is pending until the new EAD is received or for 180 days, whichever is earlier.
- The employment authorization period for the 24-month OPT extension begins on the day after the expiration of the initial post-completion OPT employment authorization and ends 24 months thereafter, regardless of the date the actual extension is approved.
- The 24-month extension is allowed twice per lifetime. Each extension must occur after a higher degree level has been completed.
- The extension is only for those in Post-completion OPT employment.
- A student may change employer during the 24-month extension; however, USCIS advises against changing employers while the I-765 is pending, since the I-765 names a specific employer.
Student responsibilities while on STEM extension OPT
A student pursuing a period of STEM extension OPT must:
- Work in a paid position for an E-Verify employer at least 20 hours per week that provides the student with formal training and learning objectives.
- Work in a position related to the STEM degree.
- Report to the DSO within 10 days of:
- Legal name change
- Change in residential or mailing address
- Change in employer, including the employer name and employer address
- Loss of employment
- Send the DSO a validation report every six months starting from the date the STEM extension starts and ending when the student’s F-1 status ends or the STEM extension ends, whichever is first. The validation report is due to the DSO within 10 days of each reporting date and must include the student’s:
- Full legal name
- SEVIS identification number (found on the I-20)
- Current mailing and residential address
- Name and address of the current employer
- Date the student began working for the current employer
- A student pursuing a period of STEM Extension OPT must not:
- Work for any employer that is not an E-Verify employer
- Accrue more than 120 days of unemployment time during the entire period of post-completion OPT (regular Post-Completion OPT and STEM Extension OPT)