OPT 24-Month STEM Extension​

On March 11, 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security published a new STEM Final Rule, with an effective date May 10, 2016.  Detailed information for students and employers can also be found on the DHS Study in the States OPT STEM Hub.


What is the total duration of OPT for STEM graduates?
In addition to 12 months of standard OPT, qualifying students may apply for a 24-month extension. Standard OPT (1 year) plus the STEM Extension (2 years) can give qualifying students up to three (3) years of work experience while maintaining their F-1 student status.


How can a student qualify for the STEM Extension?
Students can apply for an OPT STEM Extension if they:

  1. have earned a STEM Degree from an accredited US institution STEM Definition and CIP Categories;
  2. are within 90 days of the end of a term of Standard OPT;
  3. work within their STEM field of study;
  4. work for an employer who participates in E-Verify;
  5. work with their supervisor to develop a training program Form I-983
  6. have not already used two separate STEM extensions


What responsibilities do I have while on the STEM Extension?
Once your STEM Extension has been approved, you must continue to report any change of situation (address, employer, etc.) to your international student advisor. You can update your home address and telephone number through your SEVP portal.  Students on STEM OPT cannot update employer information through the portal.  A new I-983 training plan and employer letter must be submitted to the Assistant Director of International Admissions / SEVIS Coordinator if your employer changes, along with the final evaluation (bottom section, page 5 of I-983 form) of employment that has ended. 

In addition to the regular reporting requirements, graduates on the STEM Extension must also report to their International Student Advisor every 6 months to confirm their current address and employment. The timeframe for your reporting is 15 days before or 15 days after your reporting deadline. Failure to report every six months may result in the termination of your F-1 status and employment authorization.


How many days can I be unemployed?

You may be unemployed during your post-completion OPT period for a total of 90 days and an additional 60 days while on STEM OPT for a total of 150 days of unemployment. 


If you received…You may be unemployed for…

For a total of…

​(during the OPT period)

Initial post-completion OPT onlyUp to 90 days90 days
24-month extension
An additional 60 days150 days


After earning a non-STEM degree and using Standard OPT, can I apply for a STEM Extension based on a previously earned STEM degree including certificates?
Yes. However, the final decision for whether you are granted the STEM Extension is made by USCIS.


The following situation is possible:

A student earns a STEM undergraduate B.S. degree, then begins a graduate M.A. degree. He can then apply for Standard OPT based on the M.A., then before the Standard OPT ends, he can apply for a STEM Extension based on the B.S. degree. However, during the 2-year​ extension he must work in a field that utilizes his STEM B.S. degree.


Can I continue to work while the request for STEM Extension is pending?
Yes. Since the application for the STEM Extension involves more data to verify, USCIS allows graduates who have submitted an extension request before their Standard OPT expires to continue working beyond the EAD expiration for up to 180 days while the extension is pending.


Steps in Applying for the Extension

Applying for the extension can be done electronically. Simply download this packet, print it off, complete the necessary forms and documentation and send them back to the Assistant Director of International Admissions / SEVIS Coordinator at [email protected]  as a PDF file. Be sure the documents are complete, clear and legible.


Read all information carefully!


1. Submit the following information to the Assistant Director of Int'l Admissions / SEVIS Coordinator as PDF files only (do not send picture files, Word files or compressed files such as ZIP or RAR):

  • A completed STEM Extension Request Form found in this packet (last page)
  • A completed I-765 Form. The link to download the I-765 form can be found at:
    1. https://www.uscis.gov/i-765
  • Letter from employer on company letterhead including all the following:
    • ​a brief job description
    • Employer Identification Number (EIN)
    • E-Verify Number
  • The Training Program Form I-9​83​ that you and your employer completed together. More information can be found at: Study in the States OPT STEM Hub 

Once the Assistant Director of International Admissions / SEVIS Coordinator has received the above information, you will be issued a new I-20 requesting your extension. Evaluation of the documents can take up to one week, so please plan ahead.  You can pick up your I-20 in person, have a friend/family member pick it up or use eShip Global to have it sent to you.  eShip Global instructions are included in this packet.


2. Put into an envelope and mail only the following documentation to the USCIS service center:

  • ​completed I-765 form
  • COPY OF (not original) new I-20 endorsed by a Designated School Official within the past 60 days.
  • Official Transcripts
  • a copy of Form I-94: Go to this web site to retrieve and print your I-94. https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov
  • a copy of visa and passport information pages
  • copy of your last OPT EAD (front and back)
  • two NEW identical passport photo's with full name and I-94 number on back in pencil only
  • Letter from employer on company letterhead including all the following:
  • ​a brief job description

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

E-Verify Number

check or money order for $410.00 made out to “The Department of Homeland Security"

Make a copy for your records and mail application pack by FedEx, UPS or DHL express service to the  USCIS Lockbox based on the state you currently live. 


NOTE: Your Application for the OPT STEM Extension must be received by USCIS within 60 days of the date when your I-20 was updated recommending you for the STEM extension. Do not request your OPT STEM Extension until all your documents have been gathered.



eShip Global I-20 Shipping Instructions


The University of Findlay uses an express mail service that will allow you to receive your I-20 or other documents through UPS, DHL or FedEx in 3-5 days.  Requesting your immigration documents through express mail is at YOUR expense and your credit card (Visa, Mastercard or Discover cards only) will be charged upon requesting the service.  To request express mailing of your documents, go to the following website:



You must use the website provided above – do not go through UPS, DHL or FedEx websites directly.  All communication will go through the eShipglobal service, who will notify us that you are requesting your documents to be sent by express mail.

If you use this service, you will be required to create your own user name and password in order to create an account. 

To request a shipment, you will need:

  • your UF Student ID number,
  • your complete mailing address,
  • email address,
  • phone number and
  • credit card information.


Please pay close attention to the information submitted, as errors in credit card information or incorrect or incomplete address information will result in a delay in the mailing of your documents.  If you experience any difficulty in registering and processing the shipment, please use the “Help" link in the site for step by step instructions.  If you have additional questions about how to use this service, please email [email protected]. ​