OPT STEM Extension
The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Optional Practical Training (STEM OPT) extension is a 24-month period of temporary work authorization opportunity for F-1 students that directly relates to their field of study in an approved STEM field. Certain F-1 students with degrees in a Designated STEM Field may be eligible for a 24-Month extension period of OPT.
What is STEM OPT and Who is Eligible?
STEM OPT is a 24-month extension of Post-OPT for specific STEM majors only (see government CIP code list). To be eligible you and your employer will need to meet certain requirements:
- You will need to receive an offer of employment and apply for STEM OPT before your post-OPT EAD expires.
- Your employer must be registered in the E-Verify database. CMU is not an E-verified employer for STEM OPT purposes, so if you are employed by CMU you are not eligible for a STEM OPT extension with your CMU employment.
- You must be a paid employee, working at least 20 hrs/week, and your work must be related to your STEM degree. Self-employment is not considered eligible for STEM OPT.
- You must be an F-1 student who is currently engaged in post-completion OPT with a job or job offer from a participating E-Verify employer in a position directly related to your STEM major field of study.
- You must have completed your degree in a designated STEM field from a U.S. accredited institution with SEVP certification within the last 10 years and may not have already utilized this degree to apply for a STEM OPT extension.
- The only exception is if you are in a period of post-completion OPT, currently engaged in a designated STEM Master’s or Ph.D. program, and have been certified by the department before the end date listed on your 12-month EAD Card.
- You will need to be in an active period of post-completion OPT at the time of requesting the STEM OPT extension.
- You will need to submit a completed Form I-983 with all attestations and supporting documentation to OIE to request the 24-month STEM extension.
- You will also need to file Form I-765, with all required documentation and filing fee to USCIS to request the STEM OPT extension within the required filing timeline.
- Your application needs to be received by USCIS within 60 days of the STEM OPT Recommendation in SEVIS, or the application will be denied. If you cannot meet this deadline, you will need to contact OIE for a new I-20 which; will cause a delay in your filing as reissued STEM I-20s take longer to process.
Conditions and Limitations
Once approved for STEM OPT, your start date will begin the day after your initial OPT ends. You do not choose the dates. You are eligible for two STEM OPT extensions in your lifetime. You can continue to work while the application is pending for 180 days, even if you do not receive your new EAD before the end of your initial 12-month period of OPT. During this time you will still be required to comply with the STEM OPT reporting requirements and deadlines. Failure to do so could result in losing your immigration status and employment authorization.
If you are engaged in a period of 24-month STEM OPT extension, you cannot be unemployed for an aggregate of more than 150 days (90 days on Post-OPT, plus an additional 60 days on STEM OPT).
Application Process for STEM OPT
- Complete a STEM I-20 Request e-Form through the MyOIE Portal.
- Complete the I-983 form, also accessible through the e-Form.
OIE will accept a verified digital signature on the I-983 from the student and employer signatory. An example of a "verified digital signature" is a digital signature through DocuSign or Adobe software. In contrast, a typed name in a plain text field is not a verified digital signature.
- You can find the list of current DSOs. Use the following contact information on your I-983 form: OIE, CMU, 5000 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, 412-268-5231, email@example.com.
- Complete the 24-month STEM extension planning tool, also accessible through the e-Form.
- Include a copy of your EAD(s).
Please be aware that the processing time for a new STEM I-20 is 10 business days. Depending on the volume of requests, OIE will prioritize requests based on the date a student must submit the application to USCIS. The earliest you can send your materials to OIE is 100 days before your EAD expires.
How to Request a New STEM OPT I-20 with a Change of Employer
If you plan to stop working with one STEM OPT employer and you have a job offer for new STEM OPT employment, submit the "STEM I-20 Request" e-form in the "Limited Services" section of My OIE.
How to Complete STEM OPT Reporting Requirements
As a STEM OPT participant, you are required to submit a validation report to OIE every six months. To follow the STEM OPT extension reporting regulations you will need to make a validation report within 10 days of the deadline of each six-month reporting period. If you do not submit your STEM OPT report, you could lose your F-1 visa status and STEM OPT work authorization.
To complete your reporting requirements, submit the "STEM OPT Report" e-Form in the MyOIE portal.
Here is an overview of the STEM OPT reporting obligations:
Submit STEM OPT Report in the MyOIE portal.
Submit STEM OPT Report in the MyOIE portal.
How to Request a SEVP Portal Email Change
Resources for Alumni
As CMU alumni, you have lifetime access to Career Services. Reach out to your Career Advisor/Consultant if you need assistance during OPT or STEM OPT. STEM OPT applications review the direct relation of your work to your degree from CMU. Keep your resume updated and accurate during this time. Continue networking!
For detailed instructions and extensive information regarding the 24-month STEM Extension process, refer to the following resources: