STEM OPT extensions are not allowed for sole proprietorships, employment through “temp” agencies, employment through consulting firm arrangements that provide labor for hire, and other relationships that do not constitute a bona fide employer-employee relationship. STEM OPT rule states that "students cannot qualify for STEM OPT extensions unless they will be bona fide employees of the employer signing the Training Plan, and the employer that signs the Training Plan must be the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience".
The F-1 student must:
Students and Employers must fulfill critical reporting requirements during the STEM employment period.
Instructions for students requesting a 24 month STEM Extension:
1. Pay Bechtel STEM OPT I-20 Processing Fee
2. Submit the request in Bechtel Connect no earlier than 100 days before the end date of your Post OPT.
Please upload your Form I-983 and a copy of your current OPT I-20 in your request.
Instructions for Completing Form I-983
3. After obtaining your STEM OPT I-20 from our office, begin your application to USCIS.
- How to file OPT online
- Link to online I-765
***** Tips for filling out I-765 can be found here.*****
The new USCIS fee due to go into effect on Oct 2, 2020 has been put on hold. For now, please continue to pay the fee of $410.
4. Review your completed application packet using the Final Review checklist (pdf) and apply online to USCIS
* Print out any confirmation pages before final submission to USCIS
You may request a 24-month STEM extension 90 days before the current post-OPT permit expires. The application must be received by USCIS prior to expiration date of the post-OPT.
You may continue working for up to 180 days beyond the expiration of the post-completion OPT EAD while the STEM extension application is pending.
You are permitted to have 2 STEM extensions in your lifetime based on two separate STEM eligible degrees. The STEM extensions cannot be consectutive or stacked together.
For example, if you graduated with a STEM Bachelors degree and completed OPT and STEM OPT based on that degree and later complete a higher degree in a STEM field, you will qualify for another OPT and STEM extension. However, if you graduate with a STEM Bachelors degree and a STEM Masters degree at the same time, you will only be eligible for 1 OPT period and 1 STEM OPT period.
If you had never applied for the STEM extension for the lower STEM based degree, you can qualify for a STEM extension as long as you are eligible for post-completion OPT for the new non-STEM based degree.
Example: If you are currently participating in Post-Completion OPT based on a master’s degree in Business and Management, but you previously received a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics, you may be able to apply for a STEM OPT extension based on your Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics as long as you meet the other criteria below.
You may be eligible to apply for a STEM OPT extension under the following conditions: