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24 Month STEM Extension of OPT

​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.

Eligibility Requirements

In order to qualify for a STEM extension, you must meet the following requirements:


  • Be currently participating in a 12-month period of approved, Post-Completion OPT and apply in advance of the current OPT’s expiration date.
  • Submit your materials to USCIS before the expiration of your current OPT, but no sooner than 90 days before your expiration date.
  • Complete Form I-983 STEM Training Plan with your employer (more details provided in the "Application Procedures" section below).
  • Be otherwise properly maintaining F-1 status:
    • No than 90 days of accrued unemployment during current OPT period.
    • Met all reporting obligations within the required 10-day reporting window, including reporting changes in employment and changes in address.


  • 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. See the list of STEM-designated majors here on the Study in the States website.
  • NOTE: A qualifying degree that you have earned prior to your most recent degree may be considered for the STEM extension.

Employer and Employment Requirements:

  • Be employed at the time of your application.
  • Work for, or have accepted employment with, an employer enrolled in the E- Verify Program (view more information about E-Verify here). Please check with the employer’s HR department to confirm if the company is enrolled.
  • Have a "bona-fide" relationship with your employer. This means that your employer holds the primary responsibility to ensure that you carry out the details outlined in your I-983 training plan. While you are permitted to work at a client site location, your employer's client should not be the entity providing direct supervision of your work. Read more about the employer eligibility requirements on the USCIS website (visit here) or on the Study in the States website (visit here).

If you are still unsure of your eligibility, please contact an OGE advisor for additional guidance.

Application Procedure

If you are eligible for STEM based on the criteria above, follow these steps to begin the STEM extension request process:

Step 1: Use the STEM OPT Date Calculator to Plan Ahead

The Office of Global Engagement has created a STEM OPT date calculator for you to plan your STEM extension dates accordingly. Pay close attention to the earliest and latest dates of submission. Keep in mind that government deadlines are not flexible.

Step 2: Complete Form I-983 with Current Employer

To apply for STEM OPT extension, you are required to submit a STEM training plan using Form I-983:

Make sure to save a copy of your Form I-983 for you records.


  1. Your employer is required to complete and sign the appropriate sections of your I-983. Therefore, you should provide this form to your employer at least two weeks ahead of your OGE request deadline. Please see the STEM OPT date calculator in Step 1 for additional information. Please also note that your I-983 must be signed by someone with signatory authority at your employer. This is likely someone in your employer's human resources department. An employee of your employer's client is likely not authorized to sign this form.
  2. DO NOT complete or sign page 5 when requesting STEM for the first time. This page is only for your 12-month and 24-month STEM participation reports, which you will complete at a later time.

Step 3: Complete OGE's Online Application & Submit Form I-983

The OGE application consists of two parts. Once you complete this step, you will receive a new STEM OPT endorsed I-20 from OGE, which is required to be included with the materials that you mail to USCIS. If you are away from Mount Pleasant, you can choose to have this mailed to you when you complete the employer update form in step 2b below. You will be charged $20 for shipment on your I-20 within the United States.

NOTE: DO NOT complete this step more than 90 days before your current OPT end date. This date is indicated on the STEM OPT date calculator in Step 1 as the "earliest date to submit materials to OGE."

Step 3a - Submit OGE's STEM OPT Extension Agreement: This will ask you to indicate your agreement and understanding to the terms of your STEM extension. Click the button below now to complete that step:

Submit STEM OPT Agreement Now

Step 3b- Submit OPT Employer Update with Completed Form I-983: You are required to submit an OPT employer update for your STEM employer with a completed Form I-983 training plan. You are required to do this even if you have previously reported your current employer while on 12 month OPT. All employer updates for STEM, including this first one, require a completed Form I-983 (see step 1 above for more information)

Submit OPT Employer Update Now

Once all steps are complete, your I-20 will be mailed or ready for pick-up within 2 to 3 business days depending on your preference. Note that shipment of your I-20 involves completing a shipping payment request. You will be prompted for payment once your I-20 is ready for shipment.

Step 4: Complete I-765 & Mail Materials to USCIS

Once you receive your new STEM OPT endorsed I-20 from OGE, mail the following documents to USCIS within 60 days of the signature date on the new I-20. Place the documents in the order specified below. Print single-sided only and DO NOT staple.

  1. Two recent passport style photographs (see specifications here); write your name and I-94 number on the back of your photographs
  2. Check or money order for $410 payable to The Department of Homeland Security OR completed Form G-1450 (download blank copy here) if you wish to pay your filing fee by credit card (money order option is recommended)
  3. OPTIONAL: Completed Form G-1145 (download blank copy here) if you would like to receive an electronic notification when USCIS accepts your application (note: this provides a notification that USCIS received your application; you will be able to track your case with your receipt number from there)
  4. Completed USCIS Form I-765 (download blank copy here):
    • For Page 1, Part 1, Item 1, mark item 1.c., renewal of my permission...
    • For Page 2, Part 2, Item 8, enter the USCIS# on your current EAD card. This is NOT the card#. This is the USCIS# and should be all digits.
    • For Page 3, Part 2, Item 27, enter (c)(3)(C) (note: first c is lowercase, second C is UPPERCASE)  
    • For Page 3, Part 2, Item 28.a., enter the 6-digit number major listed under either Major 1 or Major 2 on your I-20 (depending on which degree qualifies) For example: 11.0103 .
    • For Page 3, Part 2, Item 28.b., enter your employer's name as it is listed in E-Verify. You should confirm this with your employer.
    • For Page 3, Part 2, Item 28.c., enter your employer's E-Verify number. This is NOT the EIN number. Confirm your the E-Verify number with your employer.
    • If you have been issued an I-20 with a different SEVIS ID in the past, either with CMU or another U.S. institution, you should explain that on page 7. This is not common. If yes, enter Page Number 3, Part Number 2, Item Number 26 into the first available item. Then, list all previous SEVIS ID numbers you have had.
    • If you have ever been authorized for CPT or OPT in the past, regardless of level, school, or program, you should explain that on page 7. To do so, enter Page Number 3, Part Number 2, Item Number 27 into the first available item. You should indicate which practical training you were previously authorized for, at what level (bachelors, masters, doctoral), whether it was full time or part time, and your start and end dates (remember American date format: mm/dd/yy or use long form to avoid confusion [e.g. July 1, 2018]).
    • If you have not received your STEM OPT I-20 yet, DO NOT sign your I-765. Wait until you receive your STEM I-20 to sign your I-765 so your signature date on the I-765 is on or after the issuance date on your STEM OPT I-20.
  5. STEM OPT endorsed I-20 from OGE.
  6. Photocopies (not originals) of any previous I-20 you have had for CPT or OPT authorization (page 2 of the I-20 shows CPT and OPT authorization); old I-20s that do not include CPT or OPT authorization are not required.
  7. Photocopy of current EAD card.
  8. Photocopy of CMU transcript or diploma stating STEM degree (request official transcript here).
  9. Printout of online I-94 (download here).
  10. Copy of your passport information page.
  11. Copy of visa page from passport.
  12. Optional: Employment letter including job description and how the employment relates to the STEM field.

Mail the required documents to the appropriate USCIS Service Center depending on where you currently live. Refer to the USCIS lockbox mailing table for additional guidance.

You will receive a letter of receipt within 10 to 30 days from the USCIS Service Center. It may take 3 months or longer to obtain your EAD card.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do I need to do if I change employers while on STEM OPT?

  1. Complete a new Form I-983 with your employer (download blank copy here). Keep in mind that any and all new employment you undertake on STEM OPT must meet the STEM OPT employer requirements. You can read about those requirements above.
  2. Submit a new employer report just like you did during your initial period of OPT (see reporting page here). The only difference is that you will answer "Yes" for question 1 and attach your completed I-983 to question 2.
  3. Complete and submit the final evaluation on student progress for your old employer using the Form I-983 you completed with them. This is the bottom box on page 5. Instructions on how to submit this are located on the bottom of this page under the "Submitting Final Evaluation When Changing Employers" heading. This final evaluation is in addition to the ongoing 6-month participation reports you must complete (see FAQ below).

Please note that all changes must be reported to the OGE within 10 days of the change. Your deadline for each requirement may be different depending on when the change happened (i.e. if you left your old employer on a Friday and started your new employer on a Monday, your deadline to submit your final evaluation is 3 days earlier than your deadline to submit your new I-983).

What else am I required to report to the OGE while on STEM OPT?

In addition to employment changes outlined in the FAQ above, you must also:

  1. Report address changes and employer changes to the OGE within 10 days. The process for reporting this is the same as it was for your initial period of OPT (see the OPT reporting information here).
  2. Complete STEM participations reports every 6 months and student evaluations every 12 months. Directions on how to complete those reports are below.

Are there different requirements for my STEM OPT extension?

Yes. Here are summary of differences between STEM and 12-month OPT:

  • While on STEM, you are required to work full time (20 hours each week or more) for an E-Verify employer. This means that you can no longer be self-employed or count volunteer work as employment.
  • You must submit Form I-983 each time you report a new employer.
  • You must report your STEM participation every six months and student evaluations every 12 months. Instructions are provided below.
  • You must submit a completed final evaluation on page 5 of Form I-983 whenever you leave an employer. Instructions are provided below.
  • Your allowable days of unemployment increases from 90 days to 150 days. Any days of unemployment that you may have had during your 12-month OPT period count against this 150-day allowance.

How many days of unemployment can I accrue while on STEM OPT?

You are permitted to have no more than 150 days of unemployment throughout your entire 36 month period of post completion OPT once your STEM extension is approved. Any unemployment that you may have accrued while on 12-month OPT counts against the 150-day maximum. Another way to look at this is that you are given 60 additional days of unemployment while on STEM, which are added to any remaining days of unemployment that you might still have from your 12-month OPT period.

When does my STEM extension start and end?

Your STEM extension starts one day after your 12-month OPT expires and ends 24 months after the start date. This is true regardless of your USCIS approval date. See the OPT STEM Extension start and end date calculator for additional guidance on your specific start and end dates.

Can I change employers while my I-765 is pending with USCIS?

We advice against changing employers while your I-765 is pending since your I-765 names a specific employer. If you must change employers, please follow the procedure outlined above for reporting employment changes with on STEM OPT. This includes submitting a new I-983 for your new employer and the final evaluation on student progress for your old employer. When you submit your employer update, there will be an option to select that your I-765 for STEM OPT is pending and that you are changing employers.

I've heard that work at a client site may not be allowed. Is this true?

In early 2018, USCIS updated its website to indicate that work at a third-party site may not be allowed. This specific language has since been removed from the website, but the basic premise of having a "bona-fine" employer/employee relationship remains. Therefore, you should keep the following in mind:

  1. The employer that signs Form I-983 STEM Training Plan must be the employer that provides the practical training experience.
  2. Employer clients or customers cannot supervise a student's training experience.
  3. A STEM OPT employer may not assign its training responsibility to a non-employer third party (e.g. a client or customer).

You may read more about the employer requirements on the USCIS website (visit here) or on the Study in the States website (visit here).

We will issue a STEM I-20 so long as your employer properly completes and signs Form I-983. However, USCIS may issue an RFE or deny your STEM extension request in the event your relationship with your employer is unclear. We bear no responsibility in the event of a denial.

Submitting STEM Participation Reports

While on STEM OPT, you are required to submit participation reports every six months. These reports are due within 10 days of the required reporting period (6 months, 12 month, 18 months, and 24 months after your start date). To complete your participation reports, please complete the following:

  1. Go to and log in with your CMU Global ID and password.
  2. Click on STEM OPT Extension under the Records heading on your home screen.
  3. Choose the correct report to submit depending on the reporting period (6, 12, 18, or 24 months) and complete the required questions.

Please note: the 12 and 24 month reports require completion of the appropriate self-evaluation located on page 5 of Form I-983. You will be asked to upload a copy of your evaluation when you complete the reports for these reporting periods. The 6-month and 18-month reports do not require this self-evaluation component.

Submitting Final Evaluation When Changing Employers

SEVP requires students to submit a final evaluation when leaving an employer, even if the student's period of STEM OPT has not yet expired. To complete and submit this:

  1. Download Form I-983 and complete the final evaluation section of page 5. This does require a signature from the employer you are leaving or have already left. You do not need to complete any other part of the I-983 for this submission.
  2. Go to and log in with your CMU Global ID and password.
  3. Click on STEM OPT Extension under the Records heading on your home screen.
  4. Under Questionnaires, click on Submit Final Evaluation Here When Changing Employers. Complete the required questions, upload your Form I-983 where directed, and click Submit at the bottom. An OGE advisor will be notified of this and indicate your completion accordingly.