STEM OPT Extension
- Currently on post-completion OPT and have completed a STEM OPT-eligible degree (as determined by DHS) in the U.S. If you look on page 2 of your I-20, you will see your name and primary major listed at the top of the page. The CIP code listed with your major must match the DHS STEM OPT list exactly in order to be eligible for the STEM OPT Extension. For the full list of DHS Approved STEM OPT majors, please see: https://www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Document/2016/stem-list.pdf
- Employed directly by an employer(s) that is enrolled in USCIS's E-Verify employment eligibility verification program.
- Working in a job directly related to your STEM OPT major field of study and at a level commensurate with your educational level at a minimum of 20 hours per week.
- Employer(s) and Student must agree to fulfill all of the 24-Month STEM OPT requirements and submit a completed Training Plan (I-983 Form) with all relevant information and signatures from Employer and Student. For more information and access to the form, please see: https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/form-i-983-overview
- Must be paid employment, no volunteer/unpaid employment allowed on STEM since information about compensation is required for the I-983 form.
- Cannot be self-employed as sole owner due to I-983 requirements. DHS Language: “STEM OPT students may participate in entrepreneurial ventures where the student is an employee. However, they may not act as their own employer or as the signatory for the employer for the purposes of this form.”
"Important Notice: Currently, USCIS charges a fee of $410 for the I-765 form. Please make sure that you pay the correct fee as an incorrect amount could result in a denial/rejection. This fee is subject to change at any time."
24-Month STEM OPT Extension Application Procedures
Step 1: Apply to International Services to establish eligibility and receive DSO Recommendation
- Copy of current OPT EAD card
- Copy of most-recent I-20 with your current OPT authorization
- Completed and Original 24-Month STEM OPT Acknowledgement of Responsibility Form
- Completed and OriginalTraining Plan (Form I-983)
Please also see: Instructions for Completing the Form I-983
- Completed and Original Form I-765
Please also see: How to complete Form I-765 (24-Month OPT Extension)
Step 2: Apply to USCIS Service Center for review and adjudication of STEM application
H-1B Cap-Gap Extension
The H-1B Cap-Gap Extension can be applied to F-1 students who are currently on OPT or their STEM OPT Extension and whose employer has applied for a Change of Status to the H-1B visa. Employers fall into two categories when they file for an H-1B, depending on the type of company or institution. Universities and non-profits may be considered “Cap-Exempt”, which means that they can file for an H-1B anytime during the year and choose a start date that is appropriate for them. Other public and private companies fall under the H-1B Cap, which means that there are a limited amount of H-1Bs that can be granted each year and a very specific application period. These Cap employers must apply on April 1st of each year and the H-1B would start on October 1st. The Cap-Gap Extension was created to help students working for a Cap Employer who are on valid OPT or STEM OPT at the time of the April 1st application, but their OPT will expire before October, which would otherwise leave a gap in their employment authorization. The Cap-Gap Extension would allow a student in this situation to possibly get an extension to their OPT time so that they can continue working up until the H-1B start date in October. No travel is allowed during the Cap-Gap Extension period, but the student can stay in the U.S. and work continuously until their H-1B begins. F-1 students whose H-1B is filed during their 60-day grace period would be eligible for an extension of stay in the U.S., but not an employment extension. Please see the links below for more information about H-1B and the Cap-Gap Extension.