24-Month OPT STEM Extension

24-Month OPT STEM Extension


Students who graduate with a STEM degree are eligible to remain in the United States for an additional 24 months of OPT. This is in addition to their initial 12 months.

Eligibility Requirements

You are eligible to apply for STEM OPT if you meet the following criteria:

  1. You have completed a STEM designated degree
  2. You are currently on your initial 12 months of OPT and actively employed 
  3. You have a passport valid at least 6 months into the future

Eligibility Requirements

Apply Early! You may submit your application as early as 90 days before your initial 12 month OPT end date. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) takes approximately 90 days to process applications. 

How to Apply

Please read the following instructions carefully. If you have any questions or concerns please contact Immigration Services for Students & Scholars at 972-721-5304.

Prepare the Following Documents:

  1. Completed  Form I-983 (instructions found here)
  2. Completed Form I-765 (be sure you are using the most recent version dated 4.1.2024)
    • Enter your family name in ALL CAPS
    • US Mailing Address 
    • Item 16 – Eligibility Category
      Post-completion OPT (c) (3) (B)
      STEM Extension OPT (c) (3) (C) – select this one
      Pre-completion OPT (c) (3) (A)
    • Sign your application in BLUE ink
    • Item 17: Please ask for an E-Verify code from your employer. An E-Verify ID number has 6 digits.
  3. Application fee: $520 check or money order payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security" 
  4. Copy of STEM degree (official transcript, unofficial transcript, or copy of diploma showing level and program of study)
  5.  Passport and I-94 to be found at CPB.gov/I94
  6. Current Employment Authorization Document (EAD) (front and back) 
  7. Two passport quality color photographs taken within the last 30 days. For your convenience, pictures can be made at the UD Postal and Print Shop on the lower level of Haggar.
  8. Completed G-1145 form (optional; it signs you up for email/text message notification of your application's arrival at USCIS)
  9. Letter of Offer - Offer letter MUST include accurate job title and description

Once I-765, I-983, and supplemental documents are complete:

  • Complete the OPT Application Form. Please be sure to upload your I-765, I-983, and employment letter.
  • ISO will review your application, and if complete, a new I-20 with “STEM OPT Recommended” will be issued to you. You will need this I-20 before you mail your STEM OPT application packet to USCIS.  
  • Be sure to keep a copy of your application packet for your records.

Mailing your STEM OPT application packet:

All applications will be mailed to a USCIS Lockbox location.  You may choose the method of shipping.

  1. If sending by U.S. Postal Service (USPS), request a tracking number and mail to:

    • USCIS
      P.O. Box 805373
      Chicago, IL 60680

  2. If sending by FedEx, UPS, or DHL, mail to:
    • USCIS
      Attn: I-765 CO3
      131 South Dearborn - 3rd Floor
      Chicago, IL 60603-5517

What’s Different?

  • There is a new expanded list of STEM eligible CIP codes.
  • The student and employer will be required to use the Form I-983
  • Additional reporting requirements
  • Employers must provide a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN).
  • DHS is permitted to conduct employer site visits to confirm that training plan goals are being met.
  • Volunteering is no longer permitted on the STEM OPT extension.
  • Self-employment is not permitted.
  • Every six months, you must submit the OPT Reporting Form  to confirm that your SEVIS record reflects current employment, address, and contact information (six month check-in).
  • Each STEM OPT student must submit an annual self-evaluation about the progress of their training experience which is included in the I-983 form.  Students and their employers must sign the student’s self-evaluation
  • Small start-up companies: There appear to be ways for some to qualify as long as the employer has an FEIN, student is considered an “employee” and a supervisor can complete the I-983.
  • Temporary agency and contract work will not be eligible
  • During the STEM OPT extension you could have up to 150 days of unemployment time

Frequently Asked Questions

If I have a dual major, can I qualify for the 24-month extension based on one of the degree programs?

Yes, if one of the degrees is on the STEM Designated Degree Program List, and your job is related to the STEM degree.

Can I qualify for the 24-month extension based on my minor?


If I previously earned a degree in a STEM field and now earned a non-STEM degree, can I apply for the 24-month extension?

Yes. The 24-month extension can be based off of a previous degree if you are currently on your initial 12-month OPT.

How can someone suggest a change to the STEM Designated Degree Program List?

To suggest a change to the list of STEM designated degrees, write to sevis.source@dhs.gov, with "STEM Code Change Request" in the subject line. Please include your name, phone number, organizational affiliation, the code(s) you would like to see added and the rationale for the addition. Change requests will be reviewed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Education, and other interested government agencies.

When does my 24-month extension of OPT start?

If you have properly filed for a 24-month STEM extension, the period of extension starts the day after the expiration of your original OPT period.

Can I work with an expired EAD while my 24-month extension is pending?

Yes. Your work authorization is automatically extended for up to 180 days while the 24-month STEM extension application is pending. There is no interim documentation of the extended authorization. If your employer needs information about what documents to collect as proof of extended work authorization, please refer to them to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services I-9 Central. For additional information, you can refer them to the optional practical training policy guidance issued by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (under Immigration and Customs Enforcement). The relevant section is 8.4.2.

Can I change employers while the 24-month extension is pending/approved?

Yes. Please keep in mind that you must notify the International Services for Students & Scholars office at least 10 days prior to your new start date.

If pending, please provide ISSS a new job offer letter, a new I-983, the final evaluation from your previous employer (regardless of employment time), and your amended I-765.

If approved, please provide ISSS a new job offer letter, a new I-983, and the final evaluation from your previous employer (regardless of employment time). 

Can I travel outside of the U.S. if my original EAD expires and my 24-month extension is still pending?

No. You must wait to receive your new EAD prior to traveling.