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".
Maintaining Your Legal Status While on OPT Workshop Video
The F-1 s
- Be on a period of standard Post-Completion OPT
- Hold a STEM eligible degree (indicated on the I-20)
- Have a job offer from an employer enrolled in E-Verify
- Demonstrate the job is directly related to a STEM field
- Be employed for at least 20 hours a week per employer
- Apply before your current Post-Completion period of OPT expires.
Students and Employers must fulfill critical reporting requirements during the STEM employment period.
Find Student Employment Requirements here.
- Report to the Bechtel International Center within 5 business days if the student has been terminated from, or otherwise leaves employment prior to the end of the authorized period of OPT. This information should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Participate in the E-verify program
- Have a Federal Employer Identification Number
- Agree to the terms of STEM OPT by completing the employer sections of the Training Plan (I-983)
Instructions for students requesting a 24 month STEM Extension:
1. If your mailing address has changed since filing the I-765 for Post-Completion OPT, update your address using the online USCIS AR-11 form prior to starting the STEM OPT I-20 application (even if your address is up-to-date on the SEVP Portal)
2. Pay Bechtel STEM OPT I-20 Processing Fee
3. 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
4. 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.
5. 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.
OPT Premium Processing (form I-907)
USCIS is now accepting Premium Processing requests for form I-765 for OPT and OPT STEM Extensions. USCIS will process your OPT/STEM I-765 request within 30 days of the completed I-907 form submission. You may file Form I-907 online via your USCIS account.
- Beginning March 6, 2023, USCIS will accept Form I-907 requests, filed for F-1 students who already have a pending Form I-765 for OPT or OPT STEM Extension.
- Beginning April 3, 2023, USCIS will accept Form I-907 requests for F-1 students when filed together with Form I-765 or adding a premium processing request for a pending Form I-765 for OPT or OPT STEM Extension.
Premium processing for form I-765 requires an additional fee of $1500 for 30 days of processing time. In consequence, we recommend you review the current USCIS Processing times for “I-765” “Based on a request by a qualified F-1 academic student [(c)(3)]” with “Potomac Service Center” before submitting your premium processing request via the I-907 form.
For more information, see How Do I Request Premium Processing.
Qualifying for a Second Period of STEM OPT after a Higher Degree
You are permitted to have 2 STEM extensions in your lifetime based on two separate STEM eligible degrees. The STEM extensions cannot be consecutive 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.
Qualifying for a STEM extension based on a prior STEM degree
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:
- You have received both degrees from currently accredited and SEVP-certified institutions
- Your previous degree can not have been conferred more than 10 years ago at the time of application
- Your previous degree is assigned a STEM eligible code found on the STEM Designated Degree Program List at the time of application
- You have not already received a STEM OPT extension based on this previous degree
- Your practical training opportunity is directly related to the previously obtained STEM degree
- Your employer meets the criteria for STEM extensions