STEM Extension Information
What is the STEM OPT extension?
An additional 17-month period of OPT granted to a student on post-completion OPT who meets the qualifications in 8 CFR 214.2(10)(ii)(C).
What is E-Verify employer?
An E-Verify employer is an employer currently registered and in good standing with the USCIS E-Verify program.
What is a CIP Code?
Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) codes are published by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and are used in SEVIS to designate a student’s major, secondary major, and minor. Certain CIP codes have been designated as STEM designated degrees.
What types of employment are allowed for students during an OPT STEM extension?
Students authorized an OPT STEM extension must work at least 20 hours per week for an E-Verify employer in a position directly related to the student’s STEM degree.
STEM students may work multiple jobs, but all the employers must be enrolled in E-Verify.
Students on a STEM extension are allowed to volunteer, incidental to their status. This means that volunteer work is allowed but does not count as employment for the purpose of maintaining F-1 status.
17 MONTH EXTENSION OF OPT FOR F-1 STUDENTS W ITH 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 Program List is on the SEVP Web site.
Can a student with a dual major qualify for the STEM extension based on one of the degree programs?
Yes, if one of the degrees is on the STEM Designated Degree Program List and any job worked while on the STEM extension is related to the SEVP Policy Guidance 0801-01
Updates to Post-Completion Optional Practical Training student’s STEM degree. However, the CIP Code for the student’s secondary major will not print on the Form I-20 recommending the STEM extension. The DSO must annotate the Form I-20 with the proper CIP Code for the secondary major.
Can a student qualify for the STEM extension based on the student’s minor?
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 the post-completion OPT.
Filing for the STEM OPT extension
What are the DSO’s responsibilities when recommending a STEM OPT extension for a student?
Before recommending a STEM extension in SEVIS, a DSO should confirm that:
- The student’s education level shown in SEVIS is bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral
- The name of the student’s major shown in SEVIS is on the STEM Designated Degree Program List
- SEVIS shows the student is on an approved period of OPT that has not expired
- The employer name and address entered into SEVIS are entered exactly as provided by the student
While the DSO must ensure that the student knows that he or she must work for an E-Verify employer, the DSO is not responsible for verifying an employer’s registration with E-Verify. Note that the extension application of a student who is ineligible for an extension will be denied and the application fee will not be refunded.
When does the student need to file for the extension?
The student must ensure the Form I-765, the supporting evidence, and the fee payment reaches 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.
What are the DSO’s responsibilities for assisting a student who is filing for a STEM extension?
The DSO must verify the student’s eligibility for the extension, make the recommendation in SEVIS if the school supports the student’s request, and print a Form I-20 showing the recommendation.
How and where does the student for file the extension?
The student should follow the directions published on the USCIS Web site for filing a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. The student should file with the USCIS Service Center serving the area of the student’s current residence.
8.2.5. 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 if the DSO believes the student is eligible for the extension but SEVIS does not show the link needed to request the extension?
The DSO should contact SEVIS and request a data fix.
If the extension link shows in SEVIS, does this indicate the student is eligible for the extension?
No. The link is available for all students currently participating in post-completion OPT. The DSO must verify the individual student’s eligibility for the STEM extension.
What documents will meet the USCIS requirements on the Form I-765 for a copy of the student’s degree?
The student may provide one of the following documents in order to meet these requirements:
- 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 the 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 Program List by using the CIP Code.
If 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 will submit 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 the student need to know about the 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.
Is the DSO responsible for verifying that the student is working for an E-Verify employer?
No. A USCIS adjudicator will make this determination by verifying the information in Item 17 of the student’s Form I-765.
Employment authorization while the STEM Extension Application is pending
When does the student’s period of STEM extension OPT start?
If the student has properly filed for a STEM extension, the student’s period of STEM extension OPT starts the day after the expiration of the student’s original period of optional practical training. The student must comply with all the requirements for students with a STEM extension.
Can the 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 247a.12(c)(6)(iv) automatically extends the student’s work authorization for up to 180 days while the student’s STEM extension application is pending.
Can the student change employers while the STEM extension application is pending?
Yes. However, if the STEM extension period has started, the employer must also be an E-Verify employer. The student must report the change in employment to his or her DSO.
Can the student travel outside of the United States if his or her employment authorization document expires and the OPT extension request is pending?
No. The student must wait to receive the new employment authorization document.
How do employers report to a DSO that a STEM extension OPT student is no longer employed?
The school may provide the student with information on how to report the end of the student’s employment. The student must provide this information to the employer. If the school does not provide alternative instructions the employer may send the report to the school address listed on the student’s Form I-20.
The employer should provide the student’s name, SEVIS ID number (if available), and the date that the student’s employment ended.
Student responsibilities while on STEM extension OPT
Students pursing a period of STEM extension OPT must:
- Work in a paid position for an E-Verify employer at least 20 hours per week
- Work in a position related to the STEM degree
- Report to their DSO within 10 days of:
- Legal name changes
- A change in residential or mailing address
- Changes in employer, giving the employer name and employer address
- Loss of employment
Send the DSO a validation report every six months starting from the date the STEM extension starts and ending when the student’s F-1 status ends or the STEM extension ends, whichever is first. The validation report must include the student’s:
- Full legal name
- SEVIS identification number (if requested by the school)
- Current mailing and residential address
- Name and address of the current employer
- Date the student began working for the current employer
Students pursing a period of STEM extension OPT must not:
- Work in a paid position for any employer that is not an E-Verify employer
- Have more than 120 days of unemployment time during the entire period of post-completion
Download Application Documents Here.