STEM-OPT

As part of the F-1 24-month OPT STEM extension regulations, students are required to report your address and employer every six months, even if there are no changes. Students are also required to submit an Evaluation of Student Progress (last page of I-983) at 12 months and a Final Evaluation (last page of I-983) at 24 months. Failure to complete your 6-month OPT STEM Reporting is not complying with OPT regulations and you may be considered out of status.

You may be eligible to use a prior STEM degree earned in the U.S. for this requirement; to use a prior STEM degree, you must:

  • Have received your most recent degree (which does not need to be STEM-related) from a currently accredited Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school in the U.S.
  • Have received your prior, qualifying STEM degree in the U.S. within 10 years of applying for the STEM OPT extension.
  •  The qualifying STEM degree must be on the Department of Homeland Security's STEM Designated Degree Program List at the time you submit your STEM OPT extension application (rather than at the time you received the degree).

ELIGIBILITY

Click here for more information on Post-Completion OPT.

You may be eligible use a prior STEM degree earned in the U.S. for this requirement; to use a prior STEM degree, you must:

  • Have received your most recent degree (which does not need to be STEM-related) from a currently accredited Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school in the U.S.
  • Have received your prior, qualifying STEM degree in the U.S. within 10 years of applying for the STEM OPT extension.
  • The qualifying STEM degree must be on the Department of Homeland Security's STEM Designated Degree Program List at the time you submit your STEM OPT extension application (rather than at the time you received the degree).

Click here for more information on Eligible STEM Fields.

  • The job is with an employer enrolled in the USCIS E-Verify program.
  • The job offers more than 20 hours of work per week (21 hours per week).
  • The job will provide formal training and learning objectives directly related to your qualifying STEM degree.

EMPLOYMENT REQUIREMENTS

Unlike the 12 month OPT, volunteer/unpaid work or self-employment, is not permitted under the 24-month STEM OPT Extension regulation. Additionally, self-employment is not eligible for a STEM OPT Extension. The regulations require that a student must have a bona fide employee relationship with an employer to obtain a STEM OPT Extension.

WHEN TO APPLY

• USCIS must receive your STEM OPT extension application before your current 12-month OPT EAD card expiration date.

• Apply as early as 90 days before your current 12-month OPT EAD card expiration date.

HOW TO APPLY FOR STEM OPT EXTENSION

Set up appointment with an OISS advisor (iss@hpu.edu/808-356-5299).

Before beginning your application process, please refer to the updated checklist on how to successfully complete your application.

 

Complete and submit your STEM OPT Extension Application to OISS.

 

1. Gather and complete the following documents:

                      Follow the tips below when completing I-765- form:

                      -  Type in your information

                      -  Complete items I-17 and sign and date the form (black ink). Make sure that all information is completed correctly.

                      -  Check the box: “Renewal of my permission to accept employment”

                      -  The code for item 16 is: (c) (3) (c)

                      -  In item 17, state: 1) the name of your degree as it is shown on your I-20 form: 2) the employer’s name as listed in the E-Verify client company identification number.

                      -  Your EAD card will be mailed to the address you indicate on the I-765 form. So it is important the address will be valid for at least 120 days from the date you send

                          you’re your STEM application to USCIS. The U.S. Postal Services Does NOT forward EAD cards, even if you arrange to forward your mail with the Post Office.

                You and your employer are required to jointly prepare a formal training plan on Form I-983 and submit it to HPU OISS. We cannot recommend you for a STEM OPT

                 Extension until we review and approve the plan.

                To receive an e-Notification when your Form I-765 has been accepted.

  • USCIS STEM OPT Filing Fee $410

                -  Payable to “the U.S. Department of Homeland Security”

                -  Write I-94# on check

  • Photocopy of all previous I-20s for current and all past F-1 programs
  • Photocopy of OPT STEM I-20 that was issued by OISS.
  • Photocopy of passport (photo page, renewal page if original was expired, and pages showing amendments such as name changes, corrections et)
  • Photocopy of F-1 visa (except citizen of Canada & Bermuda)
  • Photocopy of current EAD card
  • Proof of STEM degree: Final transcript (Preferred) or photocopy of your diploma showing the major and degree level that makes you eligible for the STEM OPT Extension. If the OPT STEM Extension is based on a prior degree not listed on your current 12- Month OPT I-20- include a copy of your I-20 from the previous school. If the I-20 is not available, request a screenshot of your SEVIS record from the previous school, or a letter from your previous International Office.
  • If you have previously had another OPT STEM Extension at another degree level, include a copy of your previous STEM I-20 and EAD.

 

2.  Submit your completed STEM OPT Extension application to OISS.

Allow 3-5 business days for processing. An OISS advisor will review your application and issue a new, updated I-20 with a STEM OPT Extension recommendation printed on the back page.

Pick up New I-20 and prepare your application

When you receive an email from OISS, pick up your new STEM OPT Extension endorsed I-20 and sign at the bottom of page 1.

 

Mail your application to USCIS:

 

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Deliveries

USCIS

PO Box 21281

Phoenix, AZ 85036

 

For Express Mail and Courier Service Deliveries (e.g., Fedex, UPS, etc.)

 

USCIS 

Attn: AOS

1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S.

Suite 100

Phoenix, AZ 85034

 

If your I-765 mailing address is outside Hawaii, review the USCIS mailing instructions to find the correct Lockbox location.

Travel During STEM OPT

Since you will remain in F-1 status under Hawaii Pacific University visa sponsorship throughout your STEM OPT period, then you must adhere to the F-1 travel regulations for STEM OPT. When re-entering the U.S., you must carry:

   1. Valid passport with valid F-1 visa stamp (Canadians are exempt from the visa stamp requirement)
   2. STEM OPT I-20 with travel signature dated within the past six months as of the date of re-entry
   3. STEM OPT EAD card
   4. Employment verification letter

Period of Unemployment

You are permitted a maximum of 150 days for unemployment during post completion OPT period = 90 days during the initial 12-month OPT and an additional 60 days once you are approved for a 24-month STEM Extension. You must report to the Employment Update Form within 10 days if you lose your jobs or leave it during STEM OPT period.

REPORTING REQUIREMENTS DURING OPT STEM EXTENSION PERIOD

To maintain legal F-1 status during your 24-month STEM OPT authorization period, you must report the following information to OISS every six months:
Confirm to OISS through our STEM OPT 6 Month Validation Report Form:

           • Legal name
           • Residential or mailing address
           • Employer name and address
           • Status of current employment

You must report any changes to the above information, including loss of employment, within 10 days of the change.

*Failure to report information to OISS every six months will result in your F1 student visa status (including OPT) being terminated, per USCIS regulations.

You must submit an annual self-evaluation to your OISS advisor about the progress of your training experience. This self-evaluation must be signed by you and your employer in the I-983 Training Plan.

Within 10 Days of the Following Changes:

           • Material changes to an existing I-983 Training Plan
           • Change in employer
           • Unemployment

*Failure to submit the self-evaluation to OISS each year will result in your F1 student visa status (including OPT) being terminated, per USCIS regulations.

If you believe your STEM OPT employer is not complying with the terms and conditions of the 24-month STEM OPT extension regulations, the Form I-983 instructions, and the completed Form I-983 on file with OISS, you may:

There are a number of enforcement and oversight mechanisms to help ensure compliance, including reporting requirements, employer site visits, periodic evaluation of a student’s training and required notification of any material changes to or deviations from the Training Plan.

For easy reference, please follow the chart below for STEM reporting requirements:

*all dates are calculated from the start date on your STEM EAD Card

6 Months Submit an Employment Reporting Form
12 Months Submit an Emplyment Reporting form and an Evaluation on Student Progress
18 Months Submit an Employment Reporting Form
24 Months Submit an Employment Reporting Form and a Final Evaluation


Please Note:

If you experience a change in information (i.e. change of emplouyer, change of address, change of contact information, etc.) in between your 6-month required reporting dates, you must report that to us within 10 calendar days of the chane by sumbitting an Employment Reporting Form, in addition to reporting to us at your 6-month required reporting dates. For a change of employer, please follow the instructions on this page above.