17 Month Extension of OPT for F-1 Students with a STEM Degree
Who is eligible for the STEM extension?
F-1 students who completed a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in a STEM field and are currently engaged in post-completion OPT may apply for the STEM extension if they have a job or job offer from an E-Verify employer.
How does a student or DSO know which degrees are designated as STEM degrees?
The STEM Designated Degree Programs List is on the SEVP Web site.
Can a student who has previously earned a degree in a STEM field and has now earned a non-STEM degree apply for the extension?
No. The STEM extension must be based on the same degree as that which serves as the basis for the post-completion OPT.
When does a student need to file for the extension?
The student must ensure that the Form I-765, the supporting evidence and the fee payment reach the proper USCIS Service Center before his or her current OPT expires. USCIS recommends that students file within 90 and 120 days of the expiration date of the current OPT.
Can a student apply for the STEM extension when he or she is within a period of cap-gap OPT extension?
Yes. A student can apply for the STEM extension during the cap-gap extension of OPT. The student will need to have his or her employer request withdrawal of the approved or pending H-1B petition in time for USCIS to effectively accept the withdrawal prior to the October 1 start date in order to avoid changing status to H-1B on that date. To avoid a denial based on the scheduled expiration of post-completion OPT, a student should include mention (and supporting evidence) of his/her cap-gap OPT extension when filing during the cap-gap period.
What is the fee for the application for the STEM extension?
The fee is the current amount for filing a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, as listed on the USCIS Web site. At the time this guidance was published, the fee was $340.
What documents will meet the USCIS requirement on the Form I-765 for a copy of a student's degree?
The student may provide one of the following documents in order to meet the requirement:
- Official transcripts
- Unofficial transcripts
- Copy of the diploma showing the level and program of study
In Item 17 of the Form I-765, what should a student list as the degree?
The student should list the name of the degree as it is shown on his or her Form I-20. In addition, the CIP Code for the student's degree will be printed on page 3 of the Form I-20. The USCIS adjudicator will verify that the student's degree is on the STEM Designated Degree Programs List by using the CIP Code. f a student with a dual major has the STEM degree listed as the secondary major in SEVIS, the DSO must annotate this on the Form I-20 the student submits to USCIS. The student should provide the CIP Code for the secondary major on the Form I-765.
Is there a resource list of employers who are enrolled in the E-Verify program?
No. There is no public list of employers enrolled in E-Verify.
How do employers enroll in E-Verify?
The USCIS Web site has information on E-Verify and the enrollment procedures at www.uscis.gov/everify.
What does a student need to know about an employer in order to complete the Form I-765 when applying for the STEM extension?
The student must have the employer's name as listed in E-Verify and the employer's E-Verify company identification number or a valid E-Verify client company identification number. This information must be listed in Item 17 of the Form I-765.
Can a student work with an expired employment authorization document while a STEM extension is pending?
Yes. 8 CFR 214.2(f)(11)(i)(C) and 8 CFR 274a.12(b)(6)(iv) automatically extend a student's work authorization for up to 180 days while the student's STEM extension application is pending.