OPT-STEM Extension

You must be in valid F-1 status and currently working on post-completion OPT. Your degree must be in an eligible STEM field. You must have a paid job offer that meets the following requirements: 

  • The job is with an employer enrolled in the E-Verify program 
  • The job offers at least 20 hours of work per week 
  • The job will provide formal training and learning objectives directly related to your qualifying STEM degree as OPT STEM Extension is an F-1 student benefit 
  • Be able to complete the I-983 Training Plan with your employer.  

Employment requirements during the 24-month STEM Extension 

You must work at least 20 hours each week for an employer that participates in the E-Verify program and agrees to follow all the employer requirements in the 24-month STEM rule.  

Unlike the 12 month OPT, volunteer/unpaid work or self-employment is not permitted under the 24 month OPT STEM Extension regulation.  

Please review the STEM OPT HUB for the most up-to-date information on the STEM Extension requirements.  

NOTICE: STEM OPT Extension and Staffing/Temporary Agencies

While being employed by a staffing/temporary agency is allowed for Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), there are different guidelines for students applying for the STEM OPT Extension. If you are currently on Post-Completion OPT, employed by a staffing/temporary agency and applying for the STEM OPT Extension, please make sure you read through the following article from the Department of Homeland Security Study in the States website.

“If a student uses a temporary or staffing agency to place them in a training opportunity, the agency cannot complete and sign the Form I-983, Training Plan for STEM OPT Students. Only the E-verified employer that provides the actual training relevant to the student’s qualifying STEM degree is authorized to sign and complete the Form I-983."

In addition- there is more information regarding “The Employer’s Training Obligation: Staffing and Temporary Agency” on the USCIS website.

OPT STEM Extension Application Procedures  

STEP ONE: Prepare the following documents before meeting with your immigration advisor:

  1. Form I-983 Training Plan 
  2. Form G-1145
  3. Form I-765 - *Please note some new changes with the new I-765 form. You need to complete the page 7 and list all of your previous CPTs, OPTs, Economic Hardships and SEVIS numbers (if prior SEVIS numbers). Refer to the Form I-765 FAQ: STEM Extension Guide.  
  4. Filing Fee payable to US Department of Homeland Security
  5. 2 new passport style photographs, in color, with I-94 and full name written on back
  6. Copy of valid passport page
  7. Copy of visa
  8. Copy of I-94 record (https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home
  9. Copy of current, unexpired EAD card (front & back) 
  10. Copy of your MNSU diploma
  11. Copy of transcripts issued by MNSU indicating the date of graduation and level of the degree conferred 

STEP TWO: Set up a meeting with an immigration advisor in the Kearney Center to review your documents. Your immigration advisor will prepare the following documents for you:

  1. SEVIS event history print out
  2. I-20 with OPT STEM Extension recommendation
    • You will sign and date it.
    • You will send a copy of the I-20 and keep the original. 
STEP THREE: After going through the entire OPT packet with your immigration advisor, package the following documents into a legal-sized envelop:
  • Step 1 documents 1-10
  • Step 2 documents 1-2

STEP FOUR: Send the package to USCIS. REMEMBER:

  • You are responsible for sending all items of your OPT application to the USCIS. 
  • Find the appropriate Lockbox to send your OPT application on the USCIS website.
  • You MUST send the package within 30 days of the processing date on your I-20 with OPT recommendation.