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STEM Extension


STEM ELIGIBILITY

Recipients of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in certain STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields eligible for a one-time 17-month extension of post-completion OPT (for a total eligibility of up to 29 months).

In addition, to be eligible for STEM OPT your employer must be registered in E-Verify, and agree to report to ISSS when your employment ends or is terminated.  You must agree to make periodic reports to ISSS regarding your employment.  Lastly, employment must be directly related to the major area of study.

ISSS facilitates the STEM OPT application process, but final authorization is processed by USCIS (Immigration). It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that the application is submitted at least three months prior to their current OPT end date.

 

APPLICATION PROCESS

  • Compile the following STEM OPT documents and submit to your International Student Adviser at least 3 months before your standard OPT end date.
    1. OPT STEM Extension document signed by student and employer.
    2. $380 check or money order payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security
    3. 2 Passport-style photos
    4. Form I-765 with section 17 completed – List your degree as it is shown on your I-20 which should match your transcripts and diploma – List employer’s name as it is listed in E-verify along with their e-verify number.
    5. Form G-1145 completed
    6. Copy of transcripts and diploma; I-94 card front and back; passport ID page(s) including expiration date; Visa stamp; all previous EAD cards
  • Once the above information is received by ISSS, your International Student Adviser will review your application materials, issue a new I-20 with STEM OPT recommendation, and finalize your STEM OPT Application Package.
  • You must mail the completed STEM OPT application packet to Immigration (USCIS) WITHIN 30 DAYS OF OPT I-20 ISSUANCE to an address below:
    • Address for Regular Postal Mail
      USCIS, Dallas Lockbox
      PO Box 660867
      Dallas, TX  75266
    • Address for Express Mail (i.e. FedEx, UPS)
      USCIS
      Attention: AOS
      2501 S. State HWY 121
      Business Suite 400
      Lewisville, TX  75067
      Phone: 1-800-375-5283

STEM OPT HOURS & LIMITATIONS

Employment on STEM OPT must be with an E-Verify employer, related to your major area of study and commensurate with your educational level.

You may continue working with your expired standard OPT EAD while your STEM extension is pending for up to 180 days.

You may not accrue more than 120 days of unemployment during your total 29 months of OPT.

You may change employers while on the STEM extension, but the new employer must also be e-verify.

You must report any change of employment to ISSS using the online OPT Employer Information form.

You cannot travel outside the US while your STEM extension is pending.