International Students and Scholars Office

STEM Optional Practical Training (STEM OPT)

STEM Optional Practical Training (STEM OPT)

The STEM OPT extension allows some students with science, technology, engineering, or math degrees to apply to extend their post-completion OPT authorization. Eligible students who are currently on 12-Month OPT may qualify to apply for a 24-Month STEM OPT Extension to receive an additional 2 years of employment authorization. Detailed information for students and employers can be found on the DHS webpage Study in the States OPT STEM Hub and USCIS STEM OPT.

To be eligible for STEM OPT, you are required to:

  1. Be in valid F-1 status by maintaining valid Post-Program completion OPT (not exceed the 90 days of unemployment)
  2. Completed an appropriate degree in one of the DHS-approved STEM fields
  3. Be employed in a paying job, minimally 20 hours per week, by an employer who is registered with the E-Verify employment verification system.
    • E-Verify is an Internet-based system operated by DHS in partnership with the Social Security Administration. E-Verify is not a searchable system, you will need to ask your employer if they are enrolled in E-Verify.
    • Employment relationships such as work for hire, self-employment, employment agencies (unless working as an employee of the agency itself), and owning a business as a sole proprietor are not eligible for STEM extension.
  4. Demonstrate that the job is directly related to your STEM field of study.

Students currently on Post-Program Completion OPT are eligible to apply for STEM OPT as early as 90 days before their EAD end date. USCI must receive the application before the current OPT end date.

Application Steps

The major code on your I-20 must be listed on the Department of Homeland Security’s STEM Designated Degree Program List at the time of application.

Tips for I-983

  • DSO Name & Contact Information

Student Last Name

Assigned Advisor

Ending with Letters A-L

Kelly L McCullen,

Ending with Letters M-Z

Junko Takada,


  • Requested Period: The start date is the day after the current OPT end date and the end date would be 2 years after the STEM OPT start date.
  • Page 5 of the Form I-983 will be left blank when applying for STEM OPT.

  • Before you request for the STEM OPT I-20, you must check on your current I-20 and see if the CIP code on the first page of your I-20 is in the eligible STEM major list for STEM OPT extension or not. Please note that it is your responsibility to verify this information, not the DSO’s responsibility. Not every STEM discipline major is in the eligible list.
  • Complete STEM OPT I-20 Request form 
  • The assigned International student advisor will issue the STEM OPT extension requested I-20 within 5 business days via email.

Choose Category (c)(3)(C) – F-1 student, 24-month extension of OPT for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students.

Here is the guideline on online filing of I-765 for the STEM OPT Extension application.

Employment and Unemployment


You must work at least 20 hours per week for an employer that

  • Unlike the 12 month OPT, volunteer/unpaid work or self-employment is not permitted under the 24 month STEM OPT Extension regulation.


  • You are allowed an additional 60 days of unemployment, for a total of 150 days (90 days from OPT + additional 60 days).
  • Each day (including weekends) that you do not have qualifying employment counts as a day of unemployment. There is no grace period after 150 days of unemployment.

Reporting Requirements

In order to maintain their legal F-1 status, a STEM OPT student must regularly check in with their International Student Advisor (DSO) throughout the duration of the extension to validate Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) information and report changes made to the student's training plan. 

All reporting must be completed via STEM OPT REPORTING FORM. Email submission will not satisfy the reporting requirements.   

Every six months a student must work with their International Student Advisor (DSO) to confirm that the student's record in SEVIS accurately reflects their current circumstance.

As part of this six-month reporting, STEM OPT students must confirm that their SEVIS information correctly identifies their:

  • Legal name.
  • Residential or mailing address.
  • Employer name and address.
  • Status of current employment.

SEVP Portal users will receive a reminder via email 30 days before any validation report is due. Please note that STEM OPT students must report a change in this information, including any loss of employment, within 10 days of the change.

Report Now

Each STEM OPT student must complete and submit to their International Student Advisor an annual self-evaluation describing the progress of the training experience.

  • Initial: 12 months after the STEM OPT start date
  • Final assessment: 24 month after STEM OPT start date

The student must submit the evaluations no later than 10 days following the conclusion of the appropriate reporting period. If an opportunity ends early the student must submit the final evaluation within 10 days following the conclusion of the opportunity. Not submitting a final evaluation would be a violation of the terms of the Form I-983 and may jeopardize the student’s nonimmigrant status.

SEVP Portal users will receive a reminder via email 30 days before their self-evaluation is due. For more information about the annual self-evaluation, please visit the Students and the Form I-983 page.

Report Now

Each STEM OPT student must report to their International Student Advisor (DSO) any material changes to, or material deviations from, the student's formal training plan.

Material changes or deviations from the original Form I-983 may include, but are not limited to:

  • Any change of the employer’s EIN.
  • Any reduction in student compensation that is not tied to a reduction in hours worked.
  • Any significant decrease in hours per week that a student engages in a STEM training opportunity.
  • Changes to the employer’s commitments or student’s learning objectives as documented on the Form I-983.

So long as the STEM OPT student and employer meet the regulatory requirements and the modified Form I-983 meets the specified requirements, the student’s employment authorization will not cease based on a change to the plan.

Report Now

When a STEM OPT student changes employers, the new employer must be enrolled in E-Verify before the student begins to work for pay. The student must also submit a new Form I-983 to their International Student Advisor (DSO) within 10 days of starting the new practical training opportunity.

When a student begins a new practical training opportunity with a new employer less than 10 days after leaving the student’s prior employer, the student may fulfill all reporting obligations (loss of employment and new training plan) by submitting a new Form I-983.

In cases where the period of time between employers is longer than 10 days, the student must first report the loss of employment to the DSO and later submit a new Form I-983.

Report Now

STEM OPT students must report the termination of their practical training experience within 10 days of the event.

Students who are granted a 24-month STEM OPT extension are allowed an additional 60 days of unemployment beyond the initial post-completion OPT limit. This means that students who obtain a 24-month STEM OPT extension will receive, for a total of 150 days of allowable unemployment, 90 days during the initial period of post-completion OPT plus an additional 60 days during the extension period.

Report Now

If a STEM OPT student believes that their STEM OPT employer is not complying with the terms and conditions of the 24-month STEM OPT extension regulations, the Form I-983 instructions, and the completed Form I-983 on file with their DSO, the student may:

  • Contact the Student and Exchange Visitor Program at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by following the instructions found on
  • Report violations through this Homeland Security Investigations tip submission form.

There are a number of enforcement and oversight mechanisms to help ensure compliance, including reporting requirements, employer site visits, periodic evaluation of a student’s training and required notification of any material changes to or deviations from the Training Plan.

Please note that if a student believes that their employer is not complying with the 24-month STEM OPT extension regulations and Form I-983 instructions, the student should leave that practical training opportunity and report their unemployment to the DSO.

A period of student unemployment, caused by an employer’s failure to comply with program requirements, on its own will not affect the STEM OPT student’s status so long as the student reports changes in employment status and adheres to the overall unemployment limits.

Report Now

Frequently Asked Questions

The CIP code is printed next to your major on page one of your I-20.

The school SEVIS school code is LOS214F00334000.

It is LOS214F00334000.

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

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.

Yes, your EAD is considered extended for up to 180 days while your STEM OPT extension application ispending with USCIS. During that period, you can travel outside the U.S. even if your previous EAD is expired. Be sure to carry with you the USCIS-issued receipt notice for your STEM OPT application

Yes, you can change employers while your 24-month STEM OPT extension application is pending with USCIS.

If you change employers, fill out Form I-983 (list the information of the new employer) and report the change to the ISSO. Employment changes must be reported within 10 days.

Your International Student Adviser will provide a copy of an updated I-20 directly to USCIS.

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