STEM Extension

On this page:

  • Eligibility for STEM OPT Extension
  • Applying for STEM OPT Extension
  • After Receiving a STEM OPT Extension
  • OPT Students Who Currently Have (or Have an Application Pending as of May 10, 2016 for) a 17-Month Extension


To qualify for the 24-month extension, you must:

  • Have been granted OPT and currently be in a valid period of OPT;
  • Have earned a STEM degree from a school that is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education-recognized accrediting agency and is certfied by SEVP at the time you submit your STEM OPT application
    • Previously obtained STEM degrees: If you're an F-1 student participating in a 12-month period of post-completion OPT based on a non-STEM degree, you may be elgiible to use a prior STEM degree earned from a U.S. institution of higher education to apply for a STEM OPT  extension. You must have recieved both degrees (non-STEM and STEM) from currently accredited and SEVP-certified institutions, and cannot have already recieved a STEM OPT extension based on this prior degree. The practical training opportunity also must be directly related to the previoulsy obtained STEM degree.
      • For example: If you are currently participating in OPT based on a master's in business administration but you previously recieved a bachelor's in computer science, you may be eligible for a STEM OPT extension based on your bachelor's degree as long as it meets the requirements listed above.
    • STEM Degrees You Obtain in the Future: If you enroll in a new academic program in the future and earn another qualifying STEM degree at a higher education level, you may be eligible for one additional 24-moth STEM OPT extension.
      • For example: If you recieve a 24-month STEM OPT extension based on your bachelor's degree in mathematics and you later earn a master's degree in engineering, you may apply for an additional 24-month STEM OPT extension.
  • Work for an employer who mmeets all the requirements listed below in the STEM OPT Employer Responsibilites section.
  • Submit the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization up to 90 days before your current OPT employment authorization expires, and within 90 days of the date your DSO enters the recommendation into your SEVIS record.


To apply for an extension, you must properly file:

  • Form I-765 with the application fee
  • Form I-20, endorsed by your DSO
  • A copy of your stem degree.

You must submit the following documents to receive a STEM OPT recommendation from your DSO:

If you file your extension application on time and your OPT period expires while your extension application is pending, USCIS will extend your employment authorization for 180 days.

Note: If you are currently participating in STEM OPT based on a 17-month STEM OPT extension, please see the OPT Students Who Currently Have  (or Have) a Pending Application for) a 17-month Extension) section below for more information.


Reporting Responsibilities

If you receive a STEM OPT extension, you must:

  • Report changes to your DSO within 10 days of the change. You must report changes related to:
    • Legal name
    • Residential and/or mailing address
    • Telephone number
    • Email address
    • Employer's name and/or address
  • Report to your DSO every six months to confirm this information listed above, even if none of your information has changed.

Unemployment During the OPT Period

The law allows you to be unemployed during your OPT period for a limited number of days.

If you recieved... You may be unemployed for...  Fora total of (during OPT)...
Intitial post-completion OPT only Up to 90 days 90 days
17-month extension An additional 30 days 120 days *
24-month extension An additional 60 days 150 days*

*If you are granted an additional 7-month extension in addition to your 17-month STEM OPT (for a total of 24-month STEM OPT extension) then you may be unmployed for a total of 150-days during the OPT period.


If you currently have a 17-month STEM OPT extension, you may apply to add seven months to your STEM OPT period on or after May 10, 2016 as long as you have at least 150 days of valid  employment authorization remaining on the date you properly file your new Form I-765. Please note that you must properly file Form  I-765 with fee, on or before August 8, 2016. USCIS will deny applications with less than 150 days of validity remaining and applications filed after August 8, 2016.

Mail completed package to:

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Deliveries:

PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

For Express mail and courier deliveries:

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