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.
If you believe your area of study is classified as a STEM field, contact us.
STEM OPT benefits are currently being reviewed by the US District Court. The current rule on STEM OPT, as indicated on this page, continues to be in effect until either a new regulation will be published by the US government or February 12, 2016, whichever is sooner. While we await news from the US government, we expect that students can continue to apply for and use STEM OPT benefits, and that the government will continue to approve those benefits. If you apply for STEM OPT and experience anything unusual with your application, contact us immediately. For updates and more details on STEM OPT, please visit the NAFSA: Association of International Educators Focus on STEM OPT page.
F-1 students who:
The earliest you can apply is 120 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.
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.
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 email@example.com. If you are a graduate of the Brooklyn Polytechnic School of Engineering and are unable to come to the office, email your entire application with this form to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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.
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.
Send your application to USCIS by FedEx or UPS. USCIS must receive it within 30 days of the date your I-20 was issued AND before your current OPT expires.
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.
Get a different job while on STEM OPT? Did you move? You're required to give us an update every 6 months while you are on STEM OPT.
You must not be unemployed for more than 120 days in total during STEM OPT (this 120 days also includes any unemployment you may have accrued during your post-completion OPT). 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. Volunteer or unpaid positions can count as employment for STEM OPT as long as the position is in your major field of study and your employer is E-Verified.
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.