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STEM OPT

F-1 students who completed a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in select government-designated science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) fields and are currently working with post-completion OPT may apply for the STEM extension of 17 months of additional employment if they have a job or job offer from an E-Verify employer and meet all the required criteria.

Click to see NYU STEM Programs

If you believe your area of study is classified as a STEM field and you don't see it on the NYU STEM programs list, contact us.

If you earned a previous STEM degree from an accredited US institution, you may be eligible for the STEM OPT extension. See the Department of Homeland Security’s STEM Designated Degree Program List. You can find the CIP code for your previous degree on page 1 of the current format I-20 or at the top of page 3 of the old format I-20. If you have questions about your eligibility, contact us.

     

Update to STEM OPT: New Government Regulations Effective May 10, 2016


In March 2016, the US government made changes to the current STEM OPT benefits that will go into effect May 10, 2016. For details on this, review the information available at the US government website’s STEM OPT Hub.

Some of the biggest changes to the STEM OPT extension include:

  • F-1 students with degrees in government approved STEM fields may now be able to apply for 24 months of additional OPT if they have a job or job offer from an E-Verify employer and meet all other required criteria.
  • Students approved for STEM OPT and their employers will have increased reporting requirements, along with a formal training plan documented on the US government form, Form I-983.
  • F-1 students currently on the 17-month STEM OPT extension whose EADs expire on or after October 8, 2016 may be eligible to apply for an additional 7-month extension if they meet all other required criteria, most importantly, that they have at least 150 days remaining of their current STEM OPT.
  • F-1 students who obtained a degree in a government approved STEM field in the last 10 years, regardless of immigration status held at that time; AND have since completed a degree in a non-STEM field; AND are currently on post-completion OPT may be eligible to apply for a STEM OPT extension based on that prior degree if they meet all other required criteria.

Application Procedures in the new regulations transition period:

  • If you wish to apply for the new 24-month STEM extension and do not have an application currently pending with the US government or the OGS, review the information and procedures below.
  • If you are currently on the 17-month STEM OPT extension and wish to apply for an additional 7-month extension, see our STEM Transitions page for instructions.
  • If you have a STEM OPT application currently pending with the OGS or US government, see your NYU email and information on our STEM Transitions page for instructions.

Review our FAQs on the New Regulations for STEM OPT. You can also review the US government STEM OPT FAQs.

 

Who Can Apply


F-1 students who: 

  • have successfully completed a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in a STEM field based on the government classification. You can find the CIP code for your previous degree on page 1 of the current format I-20 or at the top of page 3 of the old format I-20. If you have questions about your eligibility, contact us.
  • are currently authorized for post-completion OPT and have reported your current local US address and primary employer on the OPT reporting form.
  • have a job with a company enrolled in the government's E-Verify program. Find out if your employer is E-Verify enrolled. Please note, NYU is not an E-Verified employer. Review NYU's policy.
  • file an application with the OGS and to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services before the current OPT period ends.
  • have not exceeded 90 days of unemployment on your current post-completion OPT.
  • have not previously used STEM OPT more than once. Please note that you cannot have more than one STEM OPT extension based on the same degree.
  • have paid employment that is directly related to the STEM degree and is at least 20 hours per week.

 

When to Apply


The earliest you can apply is 90 days prior to the end date of your current OPT. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services must receive your STEM OPT application before your current OPT expires.

If you applied for STEM OPT before your current OPT expires, you can continue to work while your STEM OPT application is pending, until a final decision is made on your application or it has been pending 180 days with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, whichever comes first.

 

How to Apply


Step 1

Gather and Prepare Your Documents

Read all the steps in this process carefully. Once you've done that, download and complete the OGS Request for STEM OPT form. Make sure you have also reported your employer and address information to our OPT reporting form. Then gather and prepare all the items you need for your STEM OPT application.

 

 

Gather and prepare these items for your STEM OPT application:

  • A check or money order for $380 made payable to the US Department of Homeland Security. If paying by check, be sure that your name and address are pre-printed on it. If you have to hand write in either your name or address on the check then we recommend getting a money order instead.
  • A completed Form I-765; Be sure to review our I-765 explained so that you fill out the form correctly. It’s best to type your information into the form, print it, then sign it in blue ink.
  • A completed Form G-1145.
  • A completed Form I-983. This form must be completed and signed by you and your employer. Be sure to review our Tips for Completing Form I-983. If your employer has questions about the STEM extension or Form I-983, please direct them to the OGS Information for STEM Employers and the US government’s STEM OPT Hub.
  • Photocopies of all your previously issued I-20s; include I-20s from previous schools if applicable. You will also need to include a photocopy of the new I-20 with the OPT recommendation on it (see Step 4). If you are missing any I-20(s), review these instructions.
  • A photocopy of your F-1 visa (except for citizens of Canada and Bermuda)
  • Your printed I-94 record, clearly indicating that you are in F-1 status
  • A photocopy of your passport identification page, clearly indicating your passport name, nationality, date of birth, and the passport expiration date
  • Photocopies of any previously-issued Employment Authorization Documents (EAD).
  • Official transcripts for the degree upon which your STEM OPT extension will be based
  • If your STEM OPT extension application is based on a previous STEM degree, include a transcript from your previous school. If you do not have an I-20 showing the CIP code from that school, you must also include documentation from that school indicating the CIP code for that program.

Step 2

Submit Your Documents

Print out and sign the STEM OPT Application Cover Letter along with a completed Request for STEM OPT form and bring copies (not originals) of all of your STEM OPT application materials (see step 1) to the OGS reception desk. If you are living outside of the New York area or are unable to come to the office, email your entire application along with this form to ogs@nyu.edu. If you are a graduate of the NYU Tandon School of Engineering and are unable to come to the office, email your entire application with this form to ogs.brooklyn@nyu.edu.

An OGS advisor will review your application and issue your new I-20. This can take up to 10 business days to process. The OGS will email you when your new I-20 is ready.

 
 

Step 3

Receive Your New I-20

Pick up your new I-20 at the OGS once you receive an email telling you that your new I-20 is ready. If you are applying from outside of the New York area, we will send your new I-20 to you. You will receive further instructions with your new I-20.

 
 

Step 4

Review and Sign

Once you have received an updated I-20 with the STEM OPT recommendation, make sure to sign your new I-20, photocopy it, include the photocopy of your new I-20 with the rest of your STEM OPT application materials (Step 1), and make any suggested changes to your STEM OPT application as recommended by an OGS advisor.

 

• Incomplete or incorrect applications can cause serious delays so go over the checklist one more time and make sure you’ve included everything.

• Make sure to include the original check / money order, original photos and original I-765, and original and official transcripts. Everything else should be a copy.

• Keep a photocopy of your complete OPT application for your records.

 

Step 5

Send Your Application to the US Government

Send your application to USCIS by FedEx or UPS. USCIS must receive it within 60 days of the date your I-20 was issued AND before your current OPT expires. If your I-20 was issued prior to May 10, 2016, the US government must receive it within 30 days of the date the I-20 was issued AND before May 10, 2016.

If living in the New York area, mail your application to:


USCIS, Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business, Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

If living outside of New York, mail your application to the address as specified by an OGS advisor.

 

Got a different job or moved while on STEM OPT?


Report the Update

You're required to give us an update while you are on STEM OPT within 10 days of any changes in your work, address, or status.  

Link to report your OPT employer

Notify the OGS

If your information changes, report within 10 days of any of the following:
  • change in legal name,
  • change in mailing or residential address,
  • change in employer (supply name and address of the employer, as well as the start date of employment), students on 24-month STEM OPT extension must also submit updated Form I-983 - see below
  • deciding to depart the US without using the remainder of your OPT,
  • return to school full time, or
  • change of status.
  • By filling out the reporting form you’re letting both OGS and the US Citizenship and Immigration Services know about your employment and/or address.

Every 6 months, respond to email from the OGS requesting verification

We will email your NYU address every 6 months to verify your STEM OPT employer information. In addition to reporting any update to us, you must also verify your information when we contact you.

Submit an annual evaluation to OGS

 

Students on the 24-month STEM OPT extension must submit an annual evaluation to the OGS 12 months and 24 months after beginning the STEM extension. We will email your NYU address to remind you of these due dates. You and your employer must complete and sign this evaluation, and you must submit it to the OGS following the instructions in your email.

Students on the 17-month STEM OPT extension who have not applied for an additional 7-month extension do not need to complete an annual report.

Submit a new I-983 to the OGS if you change employers or have any changes to your current position

 

Students on the 24-month STEM OPT extension must submit a new Form I-983 to the OGS within 10 days of any changes in employer or other specifics to their employment information. Changes in the plan can include (but are not limited to): any change of Employer Identification Number resulting from a corporate restructuring, any reduction in compensation from the amount previously submitted on the Form I‐983, “Training Plan for STEM OPT Students,” that is not tied to a reduction in hours worked, any significant decrease in hours per week that a student engages in a STEM training opportunity, and any decrease in hours below the 20‐hours‐per‐week minimum required under this rule.

Students on the 17-month STEM OPT extension who have not applied for an additional 7-month extension do not need to complete Form I-983.

Keep track of your days

You must not be unemployed for more than 150 days in total during STEM OPT (this 150 days also includes any unemployment you may have accrued during your post-completion OPT). If you are on the previous 17-month STEM OPT extension and have not been approved for a 7-month extension, unemployment is limited to 120 days. In order to be considered “employed” while on STEM OPT you need to work an average of 20 hours per week at an E-Verified employer.

Students on the 17-month STEM OPT extension who have not applied for an additional 7-month extension may count volunteer or unpaid positions as employment for STEM OPT as long as the position is in your major field of study and your employer is E-Verified.

Students on the 24-month STEM OPT extension may not be employed in unpaid or volunteer positions, nor may they be self employed. See our STEM OPT FAQs for more information.

Keep a record

Keep a record of any and all OPT activity, including the position held, dates of the position, supervisor name, organization name and location, number of hours you work per week, and description of activity for your own records. For students on the 24-month STEM OPT extension, you should save copies of all Forms I-983, including annual evaluations.

Travel while on STEM OPT


Review our Alumni Documents to Carry page for information on traveling during your STEM OPT.

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