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


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.

Always download Form I-765 from the USCIS website to ensure use of the most recent version.

See STEM OPT FAQs (new window) for general instructions and OGS Sample I-765 (PDF) for details.

Application Checklist:

  • Filing Fee: Personal check (sample [PDF]), cashier’s check, money order, or Form G-1450 for debit/credit card payment. Find the current fee amount on the Form I-765 website.
    • OGS has observed an unexpectedly high number of rejected card payments and recommends using another payment method if possible. If paying by card, refer to the USCIS Instructions for Form G-1450 and the USCIS Pay With a Credit Card website. Applicants using a non-card payment method must not submit Form G-1450. 
    • Note: USCIS planned to publish a new edition of Form I-765 and increase the filing fee from $410 to $550 on October 2, 2020. However, on September 29, 2020, a federal judge temporarily blocked the implementation of these changes. Until the changes go into effect, applicants should continue to use the 8/25/2020 edition of Form I-765 and pay the $410 filing fee. Because OGS cannot predict whether or when the new fee and new form edition will go into effect, applicants must carefully confirm the current filing fee and form edition when mailing their application to USCIS. Applicants can print the I-765 website on the day of mailing to include in the application packet as evidence of correct payment. OGS is tracking these developments on the NAFSA website, which was updated marginally sooner than the USCIS website after the September 29 decision.
  • Two Passport Photos taken within 30 days (Write your name and SEVIS ID Number on the back in pencil.)
  • Form G-1145 (E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance)
  • Signed Form I-765
  • Copy of new Form I-20 (with OPT STEM recommendation on page 2)
  • Copies of all previous Form I-20s
  • Copies of all previous EADs
  • Copy of passport biographic page
  • Copy of F-1 Visa
  • Copy of most recent I-94 Record
  • Make a copy of the entire application to keep for your personal records before mailing to USCIS.
  • Sign up for Informed Delivery with U.S. Postal Service (USPS) for advanced warning on when to expect the EAD card to be delivered after it has been shipped by USCIS.
  • Submit STEM OPT Application to USCIS by mail (do not use the online form).
    • OGS recommends sending the application via a courier service (e.g. FedEx, UPS, USPS Priority Mail) in order to secure proof of timely delivery.

Deadline: Your application must be received by USCIS within 60 days of the IS Advisor signature on the Form I-20 or it will be denied. If you think your application may not arrive within this deadline, contact OGS for a new I-20 prior to mailing.

Wait – application processing takes an average of 90 days! Once an application has been receipted and assigned a case number by USCIS, applicants may check the USCIS online case status for updates. As long as USCIS accepts your 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. You can show the USCIS receipt notice to your employer as evidence of your ability to work during this period.

USCIS will mail communications to the address listed on your Form I-765 after you have submitted your application. You should receive a receipt from USCIS within 2 weeks of submitting your application. Check your receipt notice for errors – especially errors related to your name and date of birth. Please watch your mail closely and notify your IS Advisor of any additional requests from USCIS immediately.

Once USCIS approves the STEM OPT Extension, you will receive a new Employment Authorized Document (EAD).

Change of Address

USCIS encourages applicants to report a change of address within 10 days of relocation using the USCIS Change of Address Information procedures. Students should also file an online change of address with the postal service on the USPS website.

USCIS will destroy EAD cards returned as undeliverable by USPS after 60 business days if USCIS is not contacted by the student to correct the address. USPS is barred from forwarding USCIS mail to another address.

Students who have already submitted the STEM OPT application to USCIS and will depart the home address used on the I-765 before the EAD card arrives should take the following actions:

Please visit the 24-Month STEM OPT Reporting Requirements page to understand all of your reporting requirements while on STEM OPT.

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