If you are an F-1 student working on post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), you may be eligible for a 17-month extension. This extension is commonly referred to as a "STEM extension" and is available only if you meet the following criteria:
Once you have determined your eligibility for a STEM extension, you will need to request a new Form I-20 from your Designated School Official (DSO). Your new I-20 will include the extension dates on page three, which should cover a 17-month period from the date after your current OPT expires. Each institution will have its own process for requesting a new STEM extension I-20.
At some institutions, you may only need to have your employer fill out a request form confirming that it is an E-Verify company. At other institutions, you may need to have a complete STEM extension application ready to go before you can make your request.
The STEM extension application will be filed on the same form you used for your original OPT - Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization. At the top of the form, you will check the box indicating that you are applying for a renewal of your permission to accept employment. As you complete the rest of the form, the answers to the following questions will be different:
Question 11 - This question asks if you have ever applied for employment authorization from USCIS before. The answer to this question will be "yes" because your initial OPT was an application for employment authorization from USCIS.
Question 12 - This question asks for the office, dates, and results of your previous application for employment authorization. The office will be the service center you where you filed your OPT application. The dates will be on your OPT employment authorization document (EAD card) and the results will be "granted."
Question 16 - This question asks for the eligibility category code. The code is "(c)(3)(C)" for a STEM extension.
Question 17 - This asks for your degree and your employer’s E-Verify name and number. Your employer should provide you with its E-Verify information.
Once you have completed the I-765 Application for Employment Authorization, you will need to attach the following supporting documents:
The following are important to keep in mind as you prepare your application:
Remember that as long as you are working on OPT, you are still in F-1 status and are still required to report in with your DSO. Your DSO is a valuable resource if you require assistance with your STEM extension application or have questions about your eligibility.