24-Month OPT STEM Extension
Students who are currently on OPT and who graduated with a qualifying degree in a STEM major (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) may be eligible to apply for an additional 24-month extension of their OPT.
You can be eligible for the STEM extension if:
- You are currently participating in valid post-completion OPT
- You are within 120 days of your EAD card's end date (but not after that date)
- Your major (listed on your I-20) is approved for the 24-month extension. Your major CIP code is located on your I-20 next to your major. Check the list of approved STEM majors here.
- You have been unemployed less than 90 days during your OPT period.
- Your employer participates in e-Verify and has an e-Verify number.
To Apply: Check out our STEM Extension Tutorial here!
- Prepare the following documents and combine them into a single PDF file:
- Copy of your passport biographical page
- Copy of your most recent U.S. visa
- Printout of your I-94, found here.
- Copy of your current EAD card and any other documents demonstrating OPT approval
- Copy of your diploma and a copy of your official transcripts
- Copy of a check or money order, made out to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security" for $410
- Two 2"x2" passport-style photos taken within the last 30 days
- Completed Form I-765, found here. Please type your responses into the form before printing.
- Copy of your job offer letter that includes: employer's name, job title, position; employer's email; supervisor's name and email; address of physical work location if different from headquarters
- Follow these directions to complete Form I-983. This is a formal training plan to be completed by the student and the student's employer.
Note: For DSO contact information, put: Muhammed El Hadj Ali. email@example.com 330-672-7980. 625 Loop Road, 106 Van Campen Hall, Kent, OH. 44242. For SEVIS school code, put: CLE214F00387000
- Complete the STEM Extension I-20 Request form, found here.
- Complete the STEM OPT Employment Information Report here. You must complete this form even if your employer is the same as your OPT.
- When you receive your new I-20, you will mail your own completed application packet to USCIS. Mail a copy of the I-20, not the original. The address depends on the state in which you live. Check here to find the correct address for your state. You must file the application packet within 30 days of the requested extension.
NOTE: You are able to work for up to 180 days past your EAD card’s end date, if you have applied for the 24-month extension and your extension is still pending. You cannot apply for a 24-month extension once your EAD card’s end date has passed.
NOTE: We do not recommend changing your employer while your STEM extension application is pending. However, if you do, you must report the change to ISSS and send an updated I-765 with a copy of your receipt notice and a letter explaining the change to ISSS. You also need to send us a new I-983 completed by you and your new employer before we can create a new I-20 for you.
Additional Information for 24-Month Extension
- Employers are now also required to report employment beginning/end dates for employees on a STEM extension. Students must continue reporting employment as well.
- Students must still report their OPT participation every 6 months.
- Additionally, students must provide annual progress reports for the I-983 training plan. The progress reports must be signed by the employer and provided to the DSO.
- U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will make random site visits to employers.
Evaluation Reports on I-983
- After 1 year of your STEM extension, you must complete an evaluation report on your I-983 (page 6). This is a self-evaluation to be completed by the student and signed by the employer.
- At the end of your STEM extension, you must complete a final evaluation report on your I-983 (page 7). This is a self-evaluation to be completed by the student and signed by the employer.
STEM Extension for Previously Earned STEM Degree
If you are currently on OPT and have previously earned a STEM degree for which you did not apply for a STEM extension, you may be eligible for a STEM extension of your current OPT. You must meet this requirements:
- Your most recent degree must be from a SEVP certified school. Note: this degree does not have to be STEM.
- Your previous (STEM) degree must have been earned within the last 10 years.
- The previous (STEM) degree must be on DHS's STEM program list found here.
Additional information can be found on the StudyInTheStates DHS website here.
Can I change employers while my STEM extension application is pending?
ISSS does not recommend changing employers, because it can delay the processing of your application. However, if you cannot avoid it, then you must complete a new I-983, report your new employment to ISSS, and then email an updated I-765 with your new employer's information, along with a letter (written by you) explaining the changes in employment, dates, and receipt number to ISSS@kent.edu so that we can send it to USCIS.
Can I get a new driver's license while my STEM extension application is pending?
In many states, the BMV/DMV will not give you a new driver's license until you receive your new EAD.
Can I travel while my STEM extension application is pending?
If your current EAD is still valid, then you may travel using your current EAD, I-20 with travel signature, and visa.
If your EAD has expired and your application is still pending, you should not travel. Wait until you receive your new EAD.
What do I need to report when I change employers?
Every time your employer changes, you must report it to us within 10 days using the employer information form, along with a new I-983.
I am a doctoral student/PhD candidate and I applied for OPT before finishing my dissertation. I have not yet graduated. Can I apply for the STEM Extension?
Applying for the STEM extension requires a copy of your official transcripts and diploma. If you have not yet graduated, you will not be able to apply.
Can I work multiple jobs on the STEM extension?
There are currently no regulations that prevent students from working multiple jobs while on STEM extension. However, each job must meet the requirements of the 24-month extension, and an I-983 must be completed by each employer.
Can I work remotely while on STEM extension?
According to section 4 of the I-983, employers must provide on-site supervision and training for employees on STEM extension. Additionally, ICE must be able to make site visits if necessary. This is not possible for remote positions.
I work for Kent State University. Can I apply for STEM extension?
Kent State is not an e-verified employer. Unfortunately, you cannot apply for STEM extension based on your employment with Kent State, nor can you work for Kent State if you have already been approved for STEM extension.