F-1 24-Month STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) Extension

When do I apply for STEM OPT?

  • You may submit materials as early as 90 days prior to the expiration of your current OPT.
  • You must apply before your Post-Completion OPT period expires.
  • All materials must be received by OGS and USCIS by the expiration date on your current EAD.

Quick Information & Links

Application

Eligibility for the 24-Month STEM OPT Extension is established by meeting all of the following criteria:

  1. Currently authorized for Post-Completion OPT.
  2. Have a degree in a STEM field of study (new window).
  3. Have a job offer that meets all of the following criteria:

  • OGS will recommend the STEM OPT Extension, update SEVIS, and issue a new Form I-20 (Processing Time: 3-5 business days) to be included in the USCIS application.
  • The I-20 will be sent to you with instructions on how to finalize the application and submit it to USCIS for processing. Sign and date the new I-20.

Applicants must choose whether to file Form I-765 by mail or online.

  • Filing online results in faster issuance of the case receipt number.
  • USCIS processing time for final adjudication is the same for both filing methods.
  • Applicants must not mix filing methods; duplicate applications may be denied.
  • Documentation requirements differ slightly for each filing method.
    • If filing online, document files must be in JPG, JPEG, PDF, TIF, or TIFF format. Ensure the images are clear and readable. Do not encrypt or password-protect files.
    • If filing by mail, make photocopies of your passport, visa, Form I-20(s), and previous EAD(s) to submit with your application.

The following documentation is required to apply for this authorization:

  • Both filing methods have the same deadline: OGS must first issue the Form I-20 recommending STEM OPT, and USCIS must receive your application no later than 60 days after OGS’s dated signature on page 1 and before the end of your Post-Completion OPT period. Applications received after the deadline are denied. Avoid risk of missing the filing deadline and request a new Form I-20 from OGS if necessary.
  • Applicants should keep evidence of the exact documentation submitted to USCIS. If filing by mail, make a copy of all application materials. If filing online, take screenshots of all information entered and documentation  uploaded before final submission.
  • If filing by mail, find the applicable USCIS Lockbox address.
    • OGS recommends saving tracking confirmation of timely delivery.
  • If filing online, create or sign into your USCIS account.
    • Select: Application for Employment Authorization (I-765).
      • Complete and review all applicable sections; read and sign the applicant’s agreement; digitally sign your application; pay the fee and submit.
    • There may be a one-day delay before payment is processed. Submit your application before the deadline to ensure the application is received on time.

  • Read the OGS STEM OPT FAQs for advice on how to handle issues that might occur during the pendency of the STEM OPT application.
  • Sign up for U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Informed Delivery for advance notice of mail from USCIS.
  • USCIS confirms receipt of mailed applications by issuing Form I-797C. Verify all information on this notice is correct; contact OGS if you find any mistakes.
  • Monitor your application via the USCIS Case Status website. Average processing time is 90 days, and status may not change from received for most of the pendency.
  • Work in an eligible position to avoid accruing unemployment days. As long as USCIS accepts your STEM OPT application for processing before the expiration of your current OPT, your work status will automatically be extended for an additional 180 days or until your case is adjudicated, whichever is sooner. You can show the USCIS receipt notice to your employer as evidence of your ability to work during this period.
  • Contact OGS if you receive any USCIS correspondence other than confirmation of receipt/approval.
  • Prepare to receive your EAD card via USPS Signature Confirmation Restricted Delivery.

Please visit the 24-Month STEM OPT Reporting Requirements webpage to understand the conditions to maintain F-1 status while on STEM OPT.

Questions about the 24-Month STEM OPT process, reporting requirements, or eligibility?