In this page, you’ll find information about the application process for the STEM OPT extension.

The earliest that USCIS can receive your application is 90 days before your OPT end date, and the latest that USCIS can receive your application is on your OPT end date. CIE requires two weeks to review your application. We highly recommend that you apply early.

Step 1: Determine Your Eligibility

Please make sure that the following conditions are met:

  1. You have graduated with a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. degree in a STEM field. You can check if the major on your I-20 is on this list on the ICE website: https://www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Document/2016/stem-list.pdf
  2. You are currently on OPT
  3. Your employer is registered in the E-Verify Program

Step 2: Prepare Your Application and Submit It to CIE

Be sure to submit the following documents to CIE as a ONE complete packet!

  • OPT STEM Extension Student Form
  • I-765 Form
    • You can get this from at the USCIS Website.
    • Fill out item 1 through 17 and sign the form
    • Item 3 – Your STEM EAD will be mailed to the address you enter here
    • Item 16 – write “(c) (3) (c)”
  • Copy of official employment letters
    • We recommend submitting the original offer letter and a recent letter stating that you are still employed
  • Official transcript showing degree and major
  • Copy of diploma (reduce copy to a single 8.5″ x 11″ page)
  • Two color passport style photos taken within the last 30 days
  • Copy of your current I-20
  • Copy of your EAD (front only)
  • Copy of your current I-94 which you can get here.
  • Copy of your most recent F-1 Visa
  • Copy of your passport identity page
  • Check or money order for $410, payable to “Department of Homeland Security”
  • Form I-983 which you can get here
    • Use the I-983 instructions from the ICE website to complete the form

Step 3: CIE Procedures and Mailing Instructions

  1. CIE will review your application and contact you via email if any changes need to be made to your application.
  2. Once the application is complete, CIE will create a new I-20 for you.
  3. CIE will return the application to you along with the new I-20 and instructions for mailing the application to USCIS
  4. Mail your application to USCIS no sooner than 90 days before the end date of your current OPT.
  5. You should receive a receipt notice from USCIS in the mail about 2 weeks after submission.
  6. USCIS usually takes 90 days to process a STEM OPT application.

Important Actions while on STEM OPT

STEM OPT Reporting Requirements

  • You must report any change to your name or address to CIE within 10 days of the change.
    • You may do so using the “Address Form” on our forms’ page.
  • Every 6 months, please confirm your name, address, employer name and address, and employment status.
    • You must do so even if none of the above information has changed.
    • You can do so using the “OPT Reporting Form” found on our forms page.

Annual Self-Evaluations

  • You and your employer must complete and submit two evaluations to CIE.
  • The first evaluation must be submitted within 12 months of your STEM OPT start date.
  • The final evaluation must be submitted at the end of your STEM OPT period.
  • The evaluation forms are on page 5 of the I-983.

Changing Employers

  • If you change employers, you must submit a new I-983 to CIE within 10 days of starting the new job.
  • Also, complete a new OPT Reporting Form on our forms’ page.
  • The new employer must participate in the E-Verify program.
  • We do not recommend change employers while your STEM application is pending.

STEM OPT Application Forms and Resources

If you are not able to find the form you are looking for, please contact your immigration advisor.