STEM OPT Extension Tutorial

STEM OPT Extension I-20 Request

STEM OPT Extension Employer Information Form

Validation Report Tutorial

6 Month Validation Report

EMPLOYERS ONLY -- STEM OPT Employee Termination Report

Frequently Asked Questions


How to Request STEM OPT Extension

Step 1. Update your SEVP Portal. Be sure that all previous employer information is accurate before applying for STEM Extension. Log into the SEVP Portal by clicking here. For more information about the SEVP portal, click here.

Step 2. Read the STEM Extension Tutorial. Click here.

Step 3. Determine Eligibility. You are eligible if you meet the following conditions:

  • You are currently participating in valid post-completion OPT
  • You are within 90 days of your EAD card's end date.
  • Your major CIP code, located on your I-20 next to your major, is on the list of approved STEM OPT Extension majors. You can view the list 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.

Step 4. Gather the Following Documents:

  • 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 -- contact university registrar by clicking here
  • Copy of your official transcripts -- contact university registrar by clicking here
  • Copy of a check or money order, made out to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security." Verify the current fee amount under "Filing Fees."
  • 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. SIGN your I-765 before uploading into request.
  • 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
  • Completed Form I-983. 
    • To help you complete the Form I-983, we recommend reviewing the following resources:
      • Follow the instructions provided on the Department of Homeland Security's webpage regarding the I-983. Click Here for the webpage.
      • STEM OPT Form Training from Department of Homeland Security -- Click here.
    • Note: For DSO contact information, put: Jef Davis; 330-672-7980. 625 Loop Road, 106 Van Campen Hall, Kent, OH. 44242. For SEVIS school code, put: CLE214F00387000

Step 5. Complete STEM OPT Extension I-20 Request

  • Complete the STEM OPT Extension I-20 Request form, found here.
  • Please allow up to 10 business days for processing

Step 6. Do NOT change SEVP Portal. After you have submitted your STEM OPT Extension I-20 Request, do not make any changes to your employer information in the SEVP portal. Address, email, and telephone updates are still permitted. If you feel that you need to update your SEVP portal, email or contact an ISSS advisor for assistance.

Step 7. Mailing/Filing Your Application. 

  • Once your STEM OPT Extension I-20 is ready, an ISSS advisor will email you indicating your I-20 is ready.
    • Collect your I-20. 
    • Check your I-20. Be sure that you have collected the proper I-20. On page 2, it will clearly indicate that STEM Extension is "requested." Advising slips attached to I-20s will clearly indicate the purpose for the I-20. Yours should indicate "STEM OPT Extension Application." If you have a doubt about your I-20, please contact ISSS.
    • SIGN your I-20.
  • Read through the "OPT STEM Extension Application Checklist" sheet that will be attached to your I-20 and complete a final check that you have included and signed all required documents. 
  • USCIS must receive your application within 60 days of the creation of your STEM OPT I-20. Check the date of issuance on page 1 in the School Attestation box. 
  • Mail your application to the correct USCIS Lockbox facility. Select the appropriate lockbox based on the mailing address provided on your Form I-765. Click here for the USCIS Lockbox address list.
  • Optional: complete Form G-1145 to receive text/email notifications when your application is received. Print and attach the form to to the first page of your application. Click here for the form. 

Step 8. Pending Application. While your application is pending, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • You will receive a Form I-797 C, Receipt Notification, in the mail within approximately 2 weeks of USCIS receiving your application. Keep this for your record. 
  • You are able to work for up to 180 days past your current OPT EAD card’s end date.
  • We do NOT recommend changing your employer while your STEM extension application is pending. However, if you do, please email immediately. 
  • Check the status of your case-- You can check the status of your case using your receipt number through this link, click here.
  • USCIS usually takes 90 days for OPT/STEM OPT applications. However, these processing times can vary depending on the specific service center processing your application. If you believe your application has reached the normal processing time, we recommend you reach out to USCIS to request an expedited case. The request to expedite is based on "Case Outside Normal Processing Time." Click here for the request. The university cannot control nor influence the processing times of USCIS.  
  • See below for Frequently Asked Questions.

Step 9. Validation Reports & Maintaining your Status.

FAILURE to report every 6 months may result in the TERMINATION of your status.

  • Review the Validation Report Tutorial
  • Report Address Changes. You must update your physical address where you live within 10 business days. You should update your address through the SEVP Portal.
  • Report Employer Changes. Any major changes to your employment should be reported within 10 business days to ISSS, using the STEM OPT Employment Information Report here.
  • Validation Reports. You must report employment every 6 months, even if there have been no changes, click here.
    • 6 months = continuous reporting, no I-983 necessary
    • 12 months = continuous reporting, updated I-983 required with "Evaluation on Student Progress" completed at the top of page 5.
    • 18 months = continuous reporting, no I-983 necessary
    • 24 months = continuous reporting, updated I-983 required with "Final Evaluation on Student Progress" completed at the bottom of page 5.
  • You can view your reporting requirements and dates in your SEVP student portal

STEM OPT Extension for Previously Earned STEM Degrees

If you are currently on OPT and have previously earned a STEM degree for which you did not apply for a STEM OPT Extension, you may be eligible for a STEM OPT Extension of your current OPT. You must meet this requirements:

  1. Your most recent degree must be from a SEVP certified school. Note: this degree does not have to be STEM.
  2. Your previous (STEM) degree must have been earned within the last 10 years.
  3. The previous (STEM) degree must be on DHS's STEM program list found here.
Additional information can be found on the Study in the States DHS website here.

Frequently Asked Questions

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 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.