OPT Extension for STEM F-1 Students
Who is eligible for the STEM extension?
F-1 students who completed a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in a STEM field and are currently engaged in post-completion OPT may apply for the STEM extension if they have a job or job offer from an E-Verify employer.
When does the student need to file for the extension?
The student must ensure the Form I-765, the supporting evidence, and the fee payment reaches the proper USCIS Service Center before his or her current OPT expires. USCIS recommends that students file within 90 and 120 days of the expiration date of the current OPT.
At # 16 enter (c)(3)(c) and
At#17 your degree, employer’s name as on the E-Verify, Employer’s E-Verify Number
International Student Advisor makes the recommendation in SEVIS and prints a Form I-20 showing the recommendation.
The student should file with the USCIS Service Center serving the area of the student’s current residence (please check for the USCIS Service Center listed on the I-765 Form Instructions)
The fee is the current amount for filing a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, as listed on the USCIS Web site. At the time this guidance was published, the fee was $340 and the fee has now increased to $380 as of November 23rd, 2010.
What documents will meet the USCIS requirements on the Form I-765 for a copy of the student’s degree?
The student may provide one of the following documents in order to meet these requirements:
- Official transcripts
- Unofficial transcripts
- Copy of the diploma showing the level and program of study
In Item 17 of the Form I-765, what should the student list as the degree?
The student should list the name of the degree as it is shown on his or her Form I-20. In addition, the CIP Code for the student’s degree will be printed on page 3 of the Form I-20. The USCIS adjudicator will verify that the student’s degree is on the STEM Designated Degree Program List by using the CIP Code.
If a student with a dual major has the STEM degree listed as the secondary major in SEVIS, the DSO must annotate this on the Form I-20 the student will submit to USCIS. The student should provide the CIP Code for the secondary major on the Form I-765.
How do employers enroll in E-Verify?
Please go to E-Verify for employer registration instructions.
What does the student need to know about the employer in order to complete the Form I-765 when applying for the STEM extension?
The student must have the employer’s name as listed in E-Verify and the employer’s E-Verify company identification number or a valid E-Verify client company identification number. This information must be listed in item 17 of the Form I-765.
Employment authorization while the STEM Extension Application is pending
When does the student’s period of STEM extension OPT start?
If the student has properly filed for a STEM extension, the student’s period of STEM extension OPT starts the day after the expiration of the student’s original period of optional practical training. The student must comply with all the requirements for students with a STEM extension.
Can the student work with an expired employment authorization document while a STEM extension is pending?
Yes. 8 CFR 214.2(f)(11)(i)(C) and 8 CFR 247a.12(c)(6)(iv) automatically extends the student’s work authorization for up to 180 days while the student’s STEM extension application is pending.
Can the student change employers while the STEM extension application is pending?
Yes. However, if the STEM extension period has started, the employer must also be an E-Verify employer. The student must report the change in employment to his or her ( International Student Advisor-Designated School Officer-DSO).
Can the student travel outside of the United States if his or her employment authorization document expires and the OPT extension request is pending?
No. The student must wait to receive the new employment authorization document.
How do employers report to a DSO that a STEM extension OPT student is no longer employed?
The student must have the employer e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with the information. The student must provide this information to the employer. The employer should provide the student’s name, SEVIS ID number (if available), and the date that the student’s employment ended.
Student responsibilities while on STEM extension OPT
Students pursing a period of STEM extension OPT must:
- Work in a paid position for an E-Verify employer at least 20 hours per week. Work in a position related to the STEM degree.
- Report to their DSO within 10 days of:
- o Legal name change;
- o Residential and mailing address;
- o E-mail address;
- o Employer name;
- o Employer address;
- o Job title or position;
- o Supervisor name and contact information (tel # and email):
- o Employment start-date; and
- o Employment end-date
Students pursing a period of STEM extension OPT must NOT:
- Work in a paid position for any employer that is not an E-Verify employer
- Have more than 120 days of unemployment time during the entire period of post-completion OPT (regular post-completion OPT and STEM extension OPT).
The regulation adds a new requirement that F-1 students on OPT may not remain unemployed for more than a total of 90 days out of a 12 month OPT period, or 120 days out of a 29 month OPT period. The days of unemployment will start on the start date of OPT card, or the day the OPT is approved (whichever is later) if student is not employed.
“Information obtained from SEVP Policy guidance 0801-01”