Skip navigation
International Student and Scholar Services

Employment

OPT STEM Extension

A 24-month extension of OPT is available for students who graduated with a Bachelors, Masters or PhD in a STEM field and who are currently approved for Post-Completion OPT. (See Eligible CIP Codes section below to determine if your major qualifies.)

Students can submit their I-765 application to USCIS up to 90 days before the end date on their EAD and it must be received by USCIS before the current EAD expires.

For the latest and most complete information on the 24-month STEM OPT extension, refer to the Department of Homeland Security STEM OPT HUB and the USCIS STEM OPT Overview.

BASIC ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

Eligibility for the 24-month extension of OPT is more restrictive than for Post-Completion OPT. Students must confirm that they and their employer qualify.

  • Student must currently be on Post-Completion OPT and must meet one of the following criteria:
    1. Have completed bachelor, master, or doctoral degree in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) field; 
    2. Have completed all course requirements for the degree, excluding any thesis requirement or equivalent; OR
    3. Have completed a STEM degree in the U.S. within the last 10 years. (See Eligible CIP Codes section below)
  • Employer must be enrolled in USCIS' E-Verify employment eligibility verification program.
  • Employment must be paid work for at least 20 hours per week.
  • Employer must complete and sign Form I-983.

Visit the Study in the States STEM OPT Hub for more detailed information regarding STEM OPT eligibility requirements.

Eligible CIP Codes

Students can determine if their major qualifies for the 24-month extension of OPT by comparing the major printed on their I-20 with the DHS list of eligible CIP Codes. On the I-20, the CIP Code is located on page 1 under Program of Study.

A minor or concentration of study which is STEM-related does NOT qualify a student for an extension of OPT.

APPLICATION PROCESS

The 24-month STEM OPT extension can be submitted to USCIS as early as 90 days before the end date printed on the EAD for Post-Completion OPT. USCIS must receive Form I-765 and supporting documents before the current EAD expires. We strongly recommend applying as early as possible to ensure receipt your renewed employment authorization in a timely fashion.

To apply for STEM OPT, please complete the Application Packet (see above) and submit all the documents on the checklist to ISSS. If preferred, the documents can be submitted electronically to [email protected].

ISSS will review the documents to look for obvious mistakes which could delay USCIS processing of the STEM OPT application. Once reviewed, ISSS will prepare a new I-20 recommending you for STEM OPT. ISSS typically requires 3-4 business days to process STEM OPT requests.

If you move while USICS is processing your I-765 application, you must update your mailing address with USCIS online or by calling the National Customer Service Center 800-375-5283. USCIS has also provided tips on how to track delivery of the EAD.

ELIGIBILITY TO WORK WHILE STEM OPT APPLICATION PENDING

Students on Post-Completion OPT who have timely filed Form I-765 for STEM OPT with USCIS can continue working for up to 180 days after the expiration date of their current OPT EAD while the request is being processed. 8 CFR 274a.12(b)(6)(iv)

An employer who needs to re-verify an F-1 student's employment eligibility during this period should review the instructions in the USCIS Handbook for Employers.

Reporting Requirements

While on STEM OPT, you must continue to meet certain reporting requirements in order to maintain your F-1 status. Failure to report STEM OPT employer details within 10 days of starting a job or changing jobs could result in the termination of your F-1 status by DHS.

Before reporting a new employer, please ensure that the company meets the DHS criteria listed in the Basic Eligibility Requirements section above.

Per immigration regulations, ISSS cannot update SEVIS without ALL of the following details.

  • Form I-983 Training Plan for new employer
  • E-Verify number for new employer (different from EIN)
  • Last date of employment with previous employer (if applicable)*

Please email [email protected] with the required details and your DU ID so that we can properly update SEVIS.

*The I-983 Final Evaluation (page 5) for the previous company should be submitted to ISSS.

PERIODIC REPORTS AND SELF-EVALUATIONS

Students on STEM OPT are also required to provide updates on their employment every six months based on the start date of the STEM OPT EAD. We will need the following information:

  • Your full legal name, as it appears on your passport
  • Your SEVIS ID number (found in the upper right hand corner of your I-20)
  • Your E-Verify employer's company name
  • The complete work site address where you are currently employed
  • Provide your current residential address.
  • Self-evaluation on Page 5 of Form I-983 [12-month and 24-month reports only]

OTHER CHANGES TO REPORT

You must also report the following information within 10 days to ISSS:

  • Change of residential or mailing address including phone number or email address
  • Change of legal name
  • Change of immigration status
  • Permanent departure from the United States

For an overview of what details need to be reported, please refer to the DHS STEM OPT Reporting Requirements handout.