Students who are currently on OPT and who graduated with a qualifying degree in a STEM major (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) may be eligible to apply for an additional 24-month extension of their OPT.


You can be eligible for the STEM extension if:

  1. You are currently participating in valid post-completion OPT
  2. You are within 120 days of your EAD card's end date (but not after that date)
  3. Your major (listed on your I-20) is approved for the 24-month extension. Your major CIP code is located on your I-20 next to your major. Check the list of approved STEM majors here.
  4. You have been unemployed less than 90 days during your OPT period.
  5. Your employer participates in e-Verify and has an e-Verify number.

To Apply

  1. Prepare the following documents:
    1. Copy of your passport biographical page
    2. Copy of your most recent U.S. visa
    3. Printout of your I-94, found here.
    4. Copy of your current EAD card and any other documents demonstrating OPT approval
    5. Copy of your diploma and a copy of your official transcripts
    6. Copy of a check or money order, made out to U.S. Department of Homeland Security for $410
    7. Two 2"x2" passport-style photos taken within the last 30 days
    8. Completed Form I-765, found here. Please type your responses into the form before printing.
    9. Copy of your job offer letter that includes: employer's name, job title, position; employer's email; supervisor's name and email; address of physical work location if different from headquarters
    10. Completed Form I-983. This is a formal training plan to be completed by the student and the student's employer. You can find instructions here.
      Note: For (P)DSO contact information, put: Deborah Chiolero. [email protected]. 1 (406) 994-4031. For SEVIS school code, put: HEL214F00560000

  2. Complete the STEM Extension I-20 Request form, found here.
  3. Complete the STEM OPT Employment Information Report here. You must complete this form even if your employer is the same as your OPT.
  4. When you receive your new I-20, youwill mail your own completed application packet to USCIS. Mail a copy of the I-20, not the original. The address depends on the state in which you live. Check here to find the correct address for your state. You must file the application packet within 30 days of the requested extension. 

IMPORTANT: You are able to work for up to 180 days past your EAD card’s end date, if you have applied for the 24-month extension and your extension is still pending. You cannot apply for a 24-month extension once your EAD card’s end date has passed.
IMPORTANT: We do not recommend changing your employer while your STEM extension application is pending. However, if you do, you must report the change to ISSS and send an updated I-765 with a copy of your receipt notice and a letter explaining the change to USCIS. You also need to send us a new I-983 completed by you and your new employer before we can create a new I-20 for you.

Additional Information for 24-Month Extension

  • Employers are now also required to report employment beginning/end dates for employees on a STEM extension. Students must continue reporting employment as well.
  • Students must still report their OPT participation every 6 months.
  • Additionally, students must provide annual progress reports for the I-983 training plan. The progress reports must be signed by the employer and provided to the DSO.
  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will make random site visits to employers.

Evaluation Reports on I-983

  • After 1 year of your STEM extension, you must complete an evaluation report on your I-983 (page 6). This is a self-evaluation to be completed by the student and signed by the employer.
  • At the end of your STEM extension, you must complete a final evaluation report on your I-983 (page 7). This is a self-evaluation to be completed by the student and signed by the employer.

STEM Extension for Previously Earned STEM Degree

If you are currently on OPT and have previously earned a STEM degree for which you did not apply for a STEM extension, you may be eligible for a STEM extension of your current OPT. You must meet this requirements:

  1. Your most recent degree must be from a SEVP certified school. Note: this degree does not have to be STEM.
  2. Your previous (STEM) degree must have been earned within the last 10 years.
  3. The previous (STEM) degree must be on DHS's STEM program list found here.

Additional information can be found on the StudyInTheStates DHS website here.