24 Month OPT STEM Extension

The STEM OPT Extension is a 24-month period of temporary training that directly relates to an F-1 student's program of study in an approved STEM field. Eligible F-1 students with STEM degrees who finish their program of study and participate in an initial period of regular post-completion OPT have the option to apply for a STEM OPT extension. Students may not apply for STEM OPT extensions during the 60-day grace period following an initial period of regular post-completion OPT.

The instructions below are provided to help you determine eligibility for the 24 month extension of Optional Practical Training (OPT) for STEM eligible students and provide practical guidance on when to apply and what to expect with the application process. You are encouraged to read the information carefully. More information on the 24 month extension of OPT for STEM eligible students can be found at the additional resources link on this page. If you have any questions regarding the information below, we encourage you to contact International Services.

  • STEM Extension Workshops

    Virtual STEM Extension Workshops

    Please find our STEM Extension workshop schedule below:
    STEM Extension Workshops
    You are invited to join the IS staff as we guide you through the STEM Extension application process, reporting requirements, and maintaining status while on the STEM extension. Please check back soon for our upcoming STEM OPT Extension Workshop schedule!
  • Eligibility Requirements

    Eligibility Requirements

    To qualify for the 24 Month OPT STEM extension, individuals must meet the following criteria:

      • Applicant must be in active F-1 status
      • Applicant must be working on post-completion OPT and can apply up to 90 days prior to their post-completion OPT end date. Applicants are not eligible to apply for the 24 month OPT STEM extension once their post-completion OPT end date has passed.
      • Applicant must have completed a degree in a STEM eligible field from a U.S. accredited institution with SEVP certification within the last 10 years and has not already utilized this degree to apply for an OPT STEM extension. OR Applicant is currently engaged in a STEM eligible Master’s or PhD program, has completed all degree-required coursework and lacks only the thesis or dissertation to complete the degree.
      • Applicant must work for an employer who meets all the requirements listed below:
        • Employers must provide STEM OPT applicants with compensation  that is comparable to that of U.S. workers who perform similar duties and have similar educational and professional experiences.
        • The employment offered must be at least 20 hours per week.
        • Employer must be enrolled in E-Verify, as evidenced by either a valid E-Verify Company Identification number or, if the employer is using an employer agent to create its E-Verify cases, a valid E-Verify Client Company Identification number
        • Employer must implement a formal training program to augment the student’s academic learning through practical experience. This formal training will be documented on the I-983 Training Plan Form

    If you have additional questions regarding your eligibility, please review the Additional Resources section below. You are also encouraged to contact International Services with any questions regarding your OPT STEM eligibility. Once you've determined your eligibility, please review the How to Apply instructions below to learn the process of applying for the STEM extension.

  • How to Apply

    How to Apply

    Once you have determined you are eligible for the STEM extension, you can begin the application process up to 90 days prior to your post-completion OPT end date. Please note, once your OPT end date has passed, you are then no longer eligible to apply for the STEM extension.

        1. Work with your employer to complete the I-983 Training Plan Form. Step-by-step instructions can be found HERE. Please review some important information below:
          • DSO Name & Contact Info: Clemson University DSO, is@clemson.edu, 864-656-3614, 108 Long Hall, Clemson University, Clemson, SC, 29634
          • If you work for a staffing agency and are unsure who should complete your I-983 form, please review this SEVP guidance and speak with an advisor.
          • The start date of employment within section 3 cannot be prior to your requested STEM start date.
          • The evaluations on page 5 are to be completed while on the STEM Extension. Please review the reporting requirement section below to determine when the evaluations are due.
        2. Submit the STEM OPT Extension Request e-Form under the F-1 Practical Training tab in your iStart Portal.
          • Please consider processing times indicated within the e-Form when submitting your request.
        3. Obtain your new I-20 with the STEM Recommendation listed on page 2.
          • Do not file your I-765 without your STEM OPT I-20.
        4. Log into your USCIS Online Account or create a new one if you have not previously done so.
          • Additional guidance on creating a USCIS Online Account can be found here
        5. Prepare the following documents to upload in the Evidence section of your online application:
          1. One virtual U.S. passport-style photo. There is a passport photo tool linked to the application to assist you with creating the digital photo.
          2. Form I-94.
            • If you have renewed your passport since your most recent entry into the US, follow instructions on the STEM OPT Tutorial.
          3. Previously issued EAD card(s) - both sides.
            • You can also provide a copy of your passport in this section.
          4. Copy of I-20 Form requesting STEM OPT Extension.
            • While DSOs can sign electronically, we recommend you print, sign by hand, and upload a scanned copy to your I-765.
            • Your STEM OPT Application can be denied if:
              • You apply prior to receiving the recommendation for STEM Extension from our office.
              • You do not provide the correct STEM Extension I-20.
              • The STEM Extension I-20 you provided is beyond 60 days of issuance. 
              • The STEM Extension I-20 is not signed.
          5. A copy of your degree certificate (diploma) for the STEM program showing the level and program of study.
            • We also recommend providing a copy of your official or unofficial transcript.
          6. Institution Accreditation:
            • This is a very rare case that would only be required if you are filing for the STEM Extension using a degree that was earned prior to your most recently earned degree.
            • Skip through this section. You will receive an additional pop-up warning saying "Your application processing may be delayed", skip through that again.
          7. Additional Recommended Documents:
            • Job offer letter for your current employer as well as any proof of employment while on OPT authorization. This can include, but is not limited to: pay-stubs, job offer letters, or letters from the employer stating your dates of employment. It is not required that you submit all of these materials, but we highly encourage you submit any documentation that can be used as support that you have maintained status and have not exceeded 90 days of unemployment.
        6. Review the most common questions regarding the I-765 Application and then submit:
          1. Select "Initial Permission to Accept Employment".
            • While it is called STEM OPT Extension, this is an entirely separate authorization in which you will receive a new EAD with a different Eligibility Category of c(3)C.
          2. Premium Processing (Form I-907):
            • While there have been reports of students receiving a response within one week, this option guarantees a response within 30-days and does not guarantee an approval. 
            • This is not required; you may apply for it later while the application is pending if you choose to do so.
          3. E-Verify Number - VERY IMPORTANT:
            • Please ensure you provide the correct E-Verify number and your employer's correct business name as listed in the E-Verify system. E-Verify numbers should be 4 to 7 digits long. This is different than the EIN and NAICS Code you have listed on your I-983.
        7. While Your STEM Extension I-765 Application is Pending:
          • 180-day employment extension:
            • If you file your STEM OPT extension application on time and your OPT period expires while your extension application is pending, your employment eligibility is automatically extended for 180 days. This automatic 180-day extension ceases once USCIS adjudicates your STEM OPT extension application.
          • Changing Employers while STEM is pending:
            • While not recommended, you must notify our office if you are to change employers while your STEM request is pending with USCIS. As a reminder, students are required to report changes in employment to their DSO within 10 days of the change occurring.
          • International Travel while STEM is pending:
            • We do not recommend traveling internationally while your STEM Extension application is pending. Please see the STEM Tutorial for additional reference.
  • Reporting Requirements

    Reporting Requirements

    Unlike Post-Completion OPT, all students on Approved STEM OPT Extension are required to submit additional reports to their DSO to maintain their F-1 status.

    Submit all STEM-related e-forms via the STEM Reporting e-Forms group under the F-1 Practical Training tab in your iStart Student Portal.

    There are two main categories of these reports, periodic Validation Reports and STEM Employer Updates:

    1. PERIODIC VALIDATION REPORTS (via the 6, 12, 18, or 24-Month Validation Report e-Form)

    Throughout the duration of the extension, all students on approved STEM OPT Extension must regularly check in with their DSO to validate SEVIS information, not just when there is a change to their training plan.

    SEVP will send you a reminder 30 days before each Validation Report (VR) due date. The email is sent from do-not-reply.SEVP@ice.dhs.gov. THIS IS NOT A SCAM EMAIL.

    You cannot submit your VR through the SEVP Portal. You must complete and submit the appropriate VR e-form, found in the STEM Reporting e-Form Group, to the iStart Portal. International Services will review and submit the VR to SEVP through SEVIS.

    These “check-ins” are in the form of a 6, 12, 18, and 24-Month Validation Report (VR), with the first one due six months after the start date of the STEM OPT authorization listed on the STEM OPT Extension EAD Card.

    • These periodic reports are due regardless of employment status or employment start date with a specific company.
    • Failure to submit these Validation Reports in a timely manner may result in the automatic termination of your F-1 Record.
    • DSOs have 21 days from time of your submission and 30 days after your due date to submit the Validation Report in SEVIS, however; please note that IS processing times is 10-business days,
    • Until your first 6-month Validation Report is due, you do not need to provide an update to our office unless you require a travel signature, or you need to update your name and/or contact information.


    2. CHANGES TO YOUR EMPLOYMENT (via the STEM Employer Update e-Form)

    In addition to the periodic Validation Reports, students must also inform our office if any of the following scenarios have occurred via the STEM Employer Update e-form:

    1. Report New Employment:
      1. This includes but is not limited to:
        • Changing employment from Company A to Company B.
        • Any change in the employer's EIN, is considered new employment. This includes a new EIN resulting from a change in employer's ownership or structure.
        • Adding a second employer (working for more than one company at the same time). Please note that all STEM employment must be for STEM-eligible employers.
      2. New Employer Requirements:
        • The new employer must be E-Verified and meet all requirements listed here before the student begins to work for pay. 
        • The student must complete the final evaluation on page 5 of the I-983 for the previous employer.
        • The student must also submit a new Form I-983 for the new employer.
        • If an annual evaluation is due, the student must also complete the self-evaluation section on page 5 of the I-983 for the employer in which they were employed with at that time.
    2. Material Changes to your I-983 while maintaining employment with same company:
      1.  These changes include, but are not limited to:
        • Reduction in compensation not tied to a reduction in hours worked.
        • Information listed on page 3, section 5 of the I-983 such as:
        • Your site of employment (where you go to work each day).
        • Name of official.
        • Job roles/responsibilities listed in boxes of same section.
    3.  Report Unemployment:
      1. Important reminders on Unemployment days:
        1. Any of the remaining 90 unemployment days from your Post-Completion OPT Authorization will be added to the 60 days of unemployment allowed under STEM OPT Extension for a total of 150 days maximum.
        2. If you have exceeded the allowed unemployment days, a DHS Official may terminate your F-1 SEVIS Record at any given time.
        3. If this occurs, you must depart the U.S. immediately or face penalties for visa overstay.


    Additional Resources

    Additional Resources

    You may have additional questions about whether or not you meet the eligibility requirements or want further details, we recommend the following resources for more information:

    - Study in the States: https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/stem-opt-hub

    - NAFSA STEM OPT: http://www.nafsa.org/Find_Resources/Supporting_International_Students_And_Scholars/ISS_Issues/STEM_OPT_Rulemaking/

    - USCIS 24 Month Extension Guidance: https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/students-and-exchange-visitors/students-and-employment/stem-opt

    - Planning Tools: https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/sevis-help-hub/learn-more/tools

  • Other Options

    Other Options

    If you are ineligible for the STEM extension and are interested in continuing to work within the U.S., you might consider speaking to your employer about H1-B sponsorship. For more information on the H1-B visa program, please visit: https://www.uscis.gov/eir/visa-guide/h-1b-specialty-occupation/h-1b-visa