OPT STEM Extension

A 24-month extension of OPT is available for students who graduated with a Bachelors, Masters or PhD in a STEM field and who are currently approved for Post-Completion OPT. (See Eligible CIP Codes section below to determine if your major qualifies.)

Students can submit their I-765 application to USCIS up to 90 days before the end date on their EAD for post-completion OPT and it must be received by USCIS before the current EAD expires.

NOTE that you must receive the new I-20 with STEM OPT recommendation from ISSS before filing the application with USCIS. See Application Process below for details.

For the latest and most complete information on the 24-month STEM OPT extension, refer to the Department of Homeland Security STEM OPT HUB and the USCIS STEM OPT Overview.

  • Eligibility

    Eligibility for the 24-month extension of OPT is more restrictive than for Post-Completion OPT. Students must confirm that they and their employer qualify. Student must currently be on Post-Completion OPT and must meet one of the following criteria:

    1. Have completed bachelor, master, or doctoral degree in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) field
    2. Have completed all course requirements for the degree, excluding any thesis requirement or equivalent OR
    3. Have completed a STEM degree in the U.S. within the last 10 years. (See Eligible CIP Codes section below)
    • Employer must be enrolled in USCIS' E-Verify employment eligibility verification program.
    • Employment must be paid work for at least 20 hours per week.
    • Employer must complete and sign Form I-983.


    Visit the Study in the States STEM OPT Hub for more detailed information regarding STEM OPT eligibility requirements.

  • STEM-Eligible CIP Codes

    Students can determine if their major qualifies for the 24-month extension of OPT by comparing the major printed on their I-20 with the DHS list of eligible CIP Codes. On the I-20, the CIP Code is located on page 1 under Program of Study.

    A minor or concentration of study which is STEM-related does NOT qualify a student for an extension of OPT.

  • Application Process

    To apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the 24-month STEM OPT extension by mail or online you must first receive an I-20 with an OPT recommendation from ISSS. Without the OPT recommendation by ISSS in SEVIS issued before filing online or by mail, your STEM OPT application will be denied.


    1. Request an I-20 with the STEM OPT recommendation by submitting the STEM OPT request online in the ISSS Portal. This request will not be available in the portal until 100 days before the current OPT EAD expiration date. 
      • See our I-983 guide for instructions on completing Form-I-983, which is required to submit the STEM OPT I-20 request.
    2. Prepare the application materials, using the list in the ISSS Portal STEM OPT request.
    3. After receiving the I-20 with the STEM OPT recommendation, you must file the application online or by mail. ISSS recommends filing online (see instructions in the STEM OPT Request in the ISSS Portal to prepare the STEM OPT extension application that you will submit to USCIS). 
      • Pay the fee at the time you apply ($410 until March 31, 2024. As of April 1, 2024 fees are $470 for e-filing and $520 for filing by paper mail. Check USCIS Filing Fees to verify). 


    Note: Premium processing is available for OPT applications, for a fee ($1,685 as of February 26, 2024. Check USCIS Filing Fees to verify).


    The 24-month STEM OPT extension can be submitted to USCIS as early as 90 days before the end date printed on the EAD for Post-Completion OPT. USCIS must receive Form I-765 and supporting documents before the current EAD expires. We strongly recommend applying as early as possible to ensure receipt of your renewed employment authorization in a timely fashion.

    Once you submit the STEM OPT I-20 Request online in the ISSS Portal, ISSS will review the documents as a courtesy to look for obvious mistakes which could delay USCIS processing of the STEM OPT application. Once reviewed, ISSS will prepare a new I-20 recommending you for STEM OPT. ISSS typically requires 3-5 business days to process STEM OPT requests. You must receive the new I-20 with STEM OPT recommendation from ISSS before filing the application with USCIS.

    If you move while USICS is processing your I-765 application, you must update your mailing address with USCIS online or by calling the National Customer Service Center 800-375-5283. USCIS has also provided tips on how to track delivery of the EAD.

  • Eligibility While Application Pending

    Students on Post-Completion OPT who have timely filed Form I-765 for STEM OPT with USCIS can continue working for up to 180 days after the expiration date of their current OPT EAD while the request is being processed. 8 CFR 274a.12(b)(6)(iv)

    An employer who needs to re-verify an F-1 student's employment eligibility during this period should review the instructions in the USCIS Handbook for Employers in 7.4.2 F-1 and M-1 Nonimmigrant Students in the section titled F-1 STEM OPT Extension

  • Limits on Periods of Employment

    Students granted a 24-month STEM OPT extension cannot have more than 150 days of unemployment including the 90 days of unemployment during the initial post-completion OPT period. This means any unused unemployment days from the initial OPT term can be carried over to the STEM OPT extension.

    Students who accrue more than 150 days of unemployment may be considered out-of-status by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and ineligible for future F-1 benefits such as transfer of SEVIS record or Cap-Gap Extension.

  • Employment Reporting Requirements

    While on STEM OPT, you must continue to meet certain reporting requirements in order to maintain your F-1 status. Failure to report STEM OPT employer details within 10 days of starting a job or changing jobs could result in the termination of your F-1 status by DHS.

    Before reporting a new employer, please ensure that the company meets the DHS criteria listed in the Eligibility section above.

    Per immigration regulations, ISSS cannot update SEVIS without ALL of the following details.

    • Form I-983 Training Plan for new employer
    • E-Verify number for new employer (different from EIN)
    • Last date of employment with previous employer (if applicable)*

    *The I-983 Final Evaluation (page 5) for the previous company should be submitted to ISSS.


    Students on STEM OPT are also required to provide updates on their employment every six months based on the start date of the STEM OPT EAD. We will need the following information, which you may submit via the ISSS Portal:

    • Your full legal name, as it appears on your passport
    • Your SEVIS ID number (found in the upper right hand corner of your I-20)
    • Your E-Verify employer's company name
    • The complete work site address where you are currently employed
    • Provide your current residential address.
    • Self-evaluation on Page 5 of Form I-983 [12-month and 24-month reports only]


    While in F-1 status on STEM OPT, it is still necessary to report certain changes within 10 days of their occurrence:

    • Change of residential address including phone number or personal email address
      • Submit your new address in MyDU.
        • Search for "Address". One of the top choices will be "Update your contact information." You will then be able to edit or add a Mailing Address. 
          • Update the MAILING address to your current U.S. residential address. [Do not enter a non-US address even if you are temporarily outside the US.]
          • Update the HOME address only if your permanent international address has changed. [Do not enter an address inside the U.S.]
    • Report the following changes to ISSS (isss@du.edu).
      • Change of legal name - provide copy of new passport biographical page
      • Change of immigration status - include evidence of new status such as I-797 Approval Notice
      • Permanent departure from the United States

    For an overview of what details need to be reported, please refer to the DHS STEM OPT Reporting Requirements handout.