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Optional Practical Training STEM Extension

Optional Practical Training (STEM Extension)

F-1 students who are currently authorized for OPT employment based on completion of a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Ph.D. degree in a Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) field, as defined by DHS, may be eligible for a 24-month extension of OPT.

In order to be eligible for this extension, students applying for this benefit must:

  • already be on valid OPT based on a STEM-eligible degree
  • have had fewer than 90 days of unemployment while on OPT
  • be employed by, or have a job offer from, an employer who is registered in the E-Verify employment verification system

There is a lifetime limit of two periods of 24-month STEM OPT; each occurring after a higher degree level has been obtained. A STEM degree obtained at a U.S. university prior to your current degree may be the basis for a STEM extension under certain circumstances.

See detailed information on the STEM Hub.

When to apply: Submit the STEM OPT application to USCIS within 90 days of your initial OPT expiration date. The new STEM extension EAD card begins the day after the expiration of the previous OPT EAD and ends 24 months later; no matter when approved.

While the STEM OPT I-765 is pending with USCIS, you may continue to work for up to 180 days IF the application is submitted before the EAD card expires.

OPT STEM Extension Application Process

1Submit to Office of International Affairs:

2. Submit directly to USCIS: please check USCIS website for updated listing

  •  Application Fee: $410 (Money order or personal check made payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”)
  • Form I-765 (See Tips for completing form I-765 below)
  • Photocopy of new OPT STEM extension I-20 from APSU (keep the original I-20)
  • Photocopies of all previous I-20s (Make sure all your I-20s are signed before copying them. Keep the originals for your records.)
  • Photocopy of the front and back of your current OPT EAD card
  • Photocopy of current I-94 
  • Photocopy of Passport biographical information page (and any renewal pages)
  • Photocopy of Visa
  • Photocopy of past EAD cards if applicable (front and back)
  • Two color, U.S. passport-style, photographs (Photos need to be a certain size. For guidelines, see: Write your name and I-94 number on the back of each photo in pencil in case they get separated from your application. Place photos in plastic bag or envelope and staple to top of Form I-765. Do not staple the photos.
  • Evidence that your degree meets the STEM degree/major requirements. ONLY ONE of the following must be submitted with your application:
  • Official transcript (Request from Registrar’s Office if do not have one already)
  • Copy of the diploma that shows your degree level and program of study
  • Form G‐1145  Attach completed form to first page of I‐756 application.

Tips for Completing Form I-765

  • Applying for: STEM OPT Extension—use “renewal of my permission to accept employment”
  • Item #1: Be sure to write name in correct order (Family, First, Middle)—this is what will be written on your EAD. Write family name in ALL CAPS. First (and middle, if have) name should not be all caps; only first letter should be capitalized. This name should match your OPT I-20 and passport.
  • Item #3: Use an address that will be valid for the entire next 3 months. If address is not known or there is possibility of change, use your employer or the Office of International Affairs (see below). Any requests for evidence, communication, or EAD card, if approved, will be sent to this address so it needs to be an address that will be regularly checked. Mail from USCIS is not usually automatically forwarded by the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Items #4, 5, 6: Should match the information on your passport
  • Item #9:   Use your U.S. Social Security Number.
  • Items #10, 12, 13, and 14: This is information from most recent entry on I-94/passport stamp.
  • Item #11:  Check “Yes”
  • USCIS office: see EAD card number for office code: YSC-Potomac, LIN-Nebraska, WAC-California, EAC-Vermont, SRC-Texas, MSC-Missouri
  • Dates: start date on EAD card
  • Results: Granted (include copy of front/back of EAD card with application)
  • Item #14: USCIS wants to know what your status was the last time you entered the U.S. For most students applying for OPT, it is “F-1”.
  • Item #15: Current status: F-1 Student
  • Item #16: (C)(3)(C)
  • Item #17: Degree: write level of degree (i.e. Bachelor’s, Master’s, PhD, etc.) and major code as listed on I-20 form
  • Employer’s name: as listed in E-Verify
  • Employer’s E-Verify number—should be able to get from company’s HR department.
  • Don’t forget to sign, date and include phone number

Additional Resources

Contact Us

Reach out the Office of International Affairs at if you have questions!

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