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OPT STEM Extension

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OPT STEM Extension

Eligible F-1 students with STEM degrees can apply for a 24-month OPT STEM extension. For more information about OPT STEM, please review the ISS STEM Extension Workshop. Additionally, students and employers can find helpful resources on the SEVP Study In the States STEM OPT Hub.

STEM Extension eligibility

In order to be eligible for STEM, you must:

  • have successfully completed a degree or all formal coursework in a field on the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program list, from a SEVIS-certified US college or university (compare the CIP Code listed on page 1 of your I-20 in the format of 00.0000 to the DHS list)
  • at the time of application, have a job offer or be employed by an E-Verified employer
  • not have exceeded 90 days of unemployment while on OPT
  • apply up to 90 days before and NO LATER than the end date of your OPT

For additional eligibility requirements, please complete the STEM workshop on Canvas.

What are STEM degrees?

S = Science
T = Technology
E = Engineering
M = Mathematics

STEM Fields include: Actuarial Science, Computer Science Applications, Engineering, Engineering Technologies, Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Mathematics and Statistics, Military Technologies, Physical Sciences, Science Technologies, Medical Scientist (MS, PhD), etc.

Certain fields that many would regard as being part of science or engineering are not included in the official STEM list that is maintained by the US Department of Homeland Security. Please locate your major on the list before applying for STEM. 

Official STEM Major List

When to apply

You may submit your OPT STEM request to USCIS up to 90 days before the expiration date of your OPT EAD. Your application must be received by USCIS before the expiration date of your OPT EAD. 

Remember that in order to send your application to USCIS you must first request an OPT STEM I-20 from our office. The USCIS takes 90-100 days to process OPT STEM applications. You may file the Form I-907 and pay an additional $1,500 fee to USCIS for expedited processing. You may continue working for up to 180 days after your OPT EAD expires while your STEM extension is pending

How to apply

Step 1

Complete the ISS STEM Extension Workshop and score 100% on the modular quizes. Learn basic information, eligibility for OPT STEM, and how to apply for OPT STEM in this workshop. The ISS STEM Extension Workshop is MANDATORY in order to apply for OPT STEM benefits.

Please follow the instructions below to complete the workshop:

1. Login to

2. Click Courses on the left

3. Click All Courses

4. Click Browse More Courses at the top right

5. Search for “STEM”.

6. Click Join this Course for the course labeled ISS STEM Extension Workshop

7. Click Enroll in Course

8. Click Go to Course

If you are not able to access the workshop, please contact for help.

Step 2

Pay the $200 OPT STEM Fee

This fee pays for the maintenance of your SEVIS record by ISS during the 24 months of OPT STEM. In the event that your OPT STEM application is denied by USCIS this fee will be refunded.

Step 3

Fill out the OPT STEM I-20 request form and attach necessary documents (listed in the ISS STEM Extension Workshop)

ISS will create your new I-20 recommending you for OPT STEM and email you when it is ready to be picked up. You will then send it to USCIS with the rest of your OPT STEM application documents.

Optional: Online I-765

USCIS has started to accept OPT STEM applications submitted online. If you choose to file your OPT STEM application online, please read the USCIS instructions carefully and review your supporting documents before submitting. Do not submit a paper OPT application in addition to your online OPT application.

For additional information, please see the USCIS website here.

If you plan to file your application online and want your ISS advisor to review your application materials, please set up an OPT Document Review appointment at Before your appointment, complete the PDF version of the I-765. for your ISS advisor to review before you enter the information in the online I-765.

OPT STEM reporting requirements

A student who files a timely OPT STEM extension application is allowed to continue working while the OPT STEM application is pending, for up to 180 days beyond the expiration of the student's standard post-completion OPT. All work done during this 180-day time period is considered OPT STEM extension time that counts towards the 24-month total.

While you are on OPT STEM, you must:

  • routinely report your US employer and work address
  • routinely report your personal address
  • report start and end dates of any period of unemployment
  • Your US employer must report within 48 hours if you have left their employment
  • 150+ days of unemployment during STEM extension period (counted from your original OPT EAD start date) may result in the loss of your F-1 status.

Students on OPT STEMmust report any employment and address changes by completing the STEM Extension Reporting form.

Students with an approved 24-month STEM extension must also make a validation report to the international student office at their former school every six months starting on the date the extension begins, and ending when the OPT extension ends. The validation is a confirmation that the student’s name and address, employer name and address, and/or loss of employment is current and accurate.

What Is E-Verify?

E-Verify is an Internet-based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the Social Security Administration.E-Verify allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees.

E-Verify is free and voluntary. If an employer joins, the employer will have to verify ALL new employees, including US citizens, in E-Verify. All Oklahoma employers were required to enroll in E-Verify under the provisions of HB1804, which took effect on November 1, 2007.

Participating employers must permit visits by Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration to review their employment records and interview employees.

An F-1 student seeking to extend his OPT by 24 months can only do so if at the time of filing, the student is employed by, or has a job offer with, an E-Verify participating employer.