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). Eligibility for the 24-Month STEM OPT Extension is determined by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s STEM Designated Degree Program List (new window)
  3. Have a job offer that meets all of the following criteria:

  • Submit the following completed materials to IS Advisor by email. To confirm who your STEM Advisor is, please visit our Contact Us page. Submission to the incorrect advisor will delay processing.
  • 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:

  • Form I-765 Filing Fee: Verify current amount on the USCISI-765 website.
  • Form I-765: Regardless of filing method, applicants should reference the OGS STEM OPT FAQs and OGS Sample I-765 (PDF) for detailed instructions.
    • If filing online, if you are not creating a new USCIS account to file the I-765 at this time, log in and check your profile address. If it does not match the U.S. mailing address you will list in your STEM OPT I-765, we recommend submitting a change of address through USCIS (new window) before submitting the I-765 to ensure the correct address is appearing in all USCIS systems and will be used for shipment of your EAD card.
  • Passport photo(s) taken within 30 days
    • If filing online, upload the photo.
    • If filing by mail, provide two photos. OGS recommends writing your name and SEVIS ID on the back of each photo in pencil.
  • Image of new Form I-20 (with STEM OPT recommendation on page 2)
  • Images of all previous Form I-20s
  • Images of previous Employment Authorization Documents (EADs)
  • Image of passport biographic page
  • Image of F-1 visa
  • Most recent I-94 proof of status
  • Evidence of your STEM degree:
  • If filing by mail, Form G-1145 is recommended for text/email notification of application receipt.

  • 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.
    • The Institution Accreditation Section of the USCIS Online Portal is only required if you are applying for STEM OPT based on a prior degree. You can leave this section blank if you are applying for STEM OPT based on the Georgetown degree serving as the basis of your current post completion OPT authorization.
    • 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.
    • OGS cannot help troubleshoot technical issues with online filing.
    • USCIS offers the option to pay a significant additional fee for I-765 adjudication within a shorter, defined waiting period via Form I-907 (new window). After STEM OPT approval through Premium Processing, the wait time for EAD printing, mailing, and delivery may vary.

  • 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?