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STEM OPT Extension

Graduates currently on Post-Completion OPT may be eligible for an additional 24-month extension of their work authorization if they have earned a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in a STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) that appears on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) STEM-Designated Degree Program List.  The STEM OPT Extension allows graduates the opportunity to gain an additional 24 months of work experience, resulting in up to 36 months of total employment eligibility in the U.S. following graduation from CC.  All STEM OPT Extension applications are adjudicated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  

Eligibility Requirements for STEM OPT Extension
  • You must currently be on Post-Completion OPT and meeting all OPT employment requirements
  • You have earned a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree listed on the STEM Designated Degree Programs List.  The CIP code (XX.XXXX) can be found on the I-20 form under "Major"
  • Your employer is enrolled in E-Verify and employer and student must agree to fulfill all of the 24-Month STEM OPT requirements and submit a completed Training Plan (I-983 Form)
    • Must be paid - volunteer or unpaid is not authorized
    • Must work for a minimum of 20 hours per week
    • Must be a bona-fide employer-employee relationship (as defined here by USCIS)
    • Must be directly related to field of study and appropriate to degree level obtained
When to Apply

The earliest you can apply is 90 days prior to the end date of your current OPT.  The USCIS 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 USCIS, whichever comes first.

How to Apply

Review the STEM OPT Extension Request Form

Review the STEM OPT Application and Mailing Instructions