OPT Extension is offered to the International students after their 12 months OPT authorization completes. The STEM OPT extension allows OPT students with science, technology, engineering, or math degrees to extend their post-completion OPT work authorization into an additional 24 month OPT STEM extension.
To apply for an OPT extension, here is the OPT Application Checklist that you must follow to complete your application.
For applying for STEM OPT Extension, first, you have to make an appointment with your DSO with bringing the required documents to request an OPT recommendation. DSO will evaluate your OPT application. If you meet eligibility requirements, you will be issued a new I-20 with an OPT recommendation. The DSO recommendation is a required part of your OPT application.
STEM OPT Extension Checklist:
- Student Acknowledgement for STEM OPT – completed and signed.
- Original USCIS Form I-983 Training Plan for STEM OPT completed and signed by your prospective employer
Without this form, the ISSO cannot recommend STEM OPT. Read more about I-983 here.
Note – Ask the employer for registered company name and E-Verify Company Identification Number as you will require to provide these details while completing Form I-765.
- You would be required to get 2 photographs with your name and I-94 number written at the back of the photographs with a pencil. One must meet the photograph requirements as mentioned otherwise you may get rejected or delay processing.
Note – Photo Requirements:
- Submit a color photo, taken in the last 6 months
- 2 x 2 inches (51 x 51 mm)
- Not blurry, grainy, or pixelated.
- Without eyeglasses
- Not older than 6 months
- White/Off-white/Light Solid background
- Original, completed and signed Form I-765
- Form I- 765 Application for Employment Authorization (i-765 PDF USCIS).
DSO Strictly recommends to type and fill the PDF form, print and then sign the form. If you complete it by hand, fill neatly in BLOCK letters using black ink.
- Part 1 – 1: Check the box for “initial permission to accept employment” to indicate what you are applying for. (If applying for other like renewal or lost, one have to check the relevant box)
- Part 2 – 5.a – 6: Fill current residential or work address, where you can receive mail for at least 4 months after you submit to USCIS.
- Part 2 – 10 to 13: For those who wish to apply for a Social Security Number concurrently with this OPT application.
- Part 2 – 27: provide the correct employment code for eligibility category as follows:
- (c)(3)(C) – code for STEM OPT Extension
- Part 2 – 28.a, 28.b, 28.c: Enter Degree Level, Employer’s Name and E-Verify Number related to your STEM OPT application
- Part 3 – 7.a – 7.b: Applicant must Sign and date the application form after printing.
- Part 5 – 7.a – 7.b: Check the 7.a or 7.b whichever applicable
- Part 5 – 8.a – 8.b: Sign and date the application form after printing if someone other than the applicant is submitting the application.
- USCIS Form G-1145– typed and printed out. Form G-11495 – E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance(www.uscis.gov or link from DSO).
Provide email or contact number to receive a notification when your application is received.
Photocopies of Original Documents:
Do not send any originals of the supporting documents but carry it with yourself while filling.
- A new printout of your updated Form I-20 with stem extension issued by the DSO within 60 days (not more than 60 days) before USCIS will receive the application.
- Photocopies of all previous I-20’s
- Copy of Passport: ID page, current expiration date, Visa stamp page and the most recent entry stamp
- Photocopy of Current EAD Card and all previously issued EAD Card(s).
- I-94 record copy. Visit the USCBP website to retrieve and print out a copy of your electronic Form I-94.
- Photocopy of F-1 visa (If applicable)
- I-797 Approval notice if they have to change the Status to F-1. (If applicable)
- Proof of the completion of your STEM degree – Copy of degree, certificate, transcript and/or diploma. It includes your name, degree earned, field(s) of study, date awarded.
- I-765 Application Fee
- I-765 Application Fee is $410.00. You can make payment through money order, personal check, or cashier’s check. If you pay by check, you must make your check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
- If you are filing at a USCIS Lockbox facility, you may also pay by credit card using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions.
- Service centers are not able to process credit card payments.
- When you send a payment, you agree to pay for government service.
- Filing fees are non-refundable, regardless of any action taken on your application, or if you withdraw your request.
- USCIS Fee Calculator– helps determine your fee.
The list of documents in this OPT Extension Application Checklist are the most important documents that you need to bring along with you to make the process go smooth and that your request doesn’t get canceled.
- Check all documents for completeness and accuracy.
- Be sure to sign Forms I-20 and I-765.
- Make a complete copy of your application for your records.
- Keep a copy of your express mail receipt and money order receipt, if applicable.
- Mail your application to the USCIS.
- Request a tracking number to track your application delivery
Submit your OPT application to the USCIS
Once your STEM Extension application is complete, mail it to USCIS lockbox location or mailing address listed in Part 2 – #5 on I-765 for processing. You can use standard US Postal Service delivery or express delivery services through USPS or other providers (FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc.). Ask for a tracking number for your package to ensure timely delivery of your application.
Receive I-797 Approval Notice and New EAD
Once your STEM application is received at USCIS, you will receive an official Receipt Notice by mail to your address listed on the I-765. Additionally, if your application requires additional information or documentation, you may receive a Request for Evidence (RFE). When your application is approved, you will receive an I-797 Approval Notice and a new Employment Authorization Document (EAD card).
OPT STEM Authorization Reporting to DSO
If the OPT STEM application is filed timely, your OPT work authorization will be automatically extended up to 180 days while the case is pending with USCIS. During the STEM Extension period, you must report all the information like legal name, address details, employment activities and employer details to your DSO, even if none of your information has changed within 10 days of the change and every six months, starting from the date the extension starts and ending when the F-1 status ends or the extension ends, whichever is first.
You are required to stay up-to-date with all immigration requirements. We highly recommend you to go through the details of the application that is being filled. And you must follow the OPT Extension Application Checklist. This will help you in preparing a complete OPT Application. All in all, it is an important procedure and hence requires your attention. Once you are thorough with the rules and guidelines, you will get through it with ease.
Get your STEM extension application approved. All the best!