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This information is for certain science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degree holders who are about to finish their regular 12 months of OPT and wish to request additional 24 months of OPT.  

New USCIS Development:

Beginning May 10, 2016, new STEM OPT rules will be in effect.  Under these rules, the following changes will take place:

  • STEM OPT extension period - Increased from 17-months to 24-months.
  • STEM eligibility based on previously earned degrees - If you earned a STEM degree in the past 10 years, you may be eligible for a STEM OPT even if your most recent degree is not on the STEM list.
  • Up to 2 lifetime STEM extensions.
  • Up to 150 days of unemployment, in the aggregate. 
  • New employer responsibilities - Employers will be required to submit training details, compensation information, and displacement attestations as part of your STEM application.  Evaluations will be required at 12- and 24-months, and an additional plan will be required within 10 days for each new job you accept.  
  • Site Visits- DHS may conduct employment site visits.  If you are thinking about applying for a STEM extension, please begin to discuss the training plan  requirement with your employer right away.  


  • General Requirements
  • To be eligible for STEM all applicants must: 
    • Have successfully completed a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in a field on the DHS STEM Designated Degree Programs list.
    • Currently be participating in post-completion OPT, working for a US employer in a job directly related to your STEM major area of study.
    • Have a job offer from an employer registered with the E-Verify employment verification system at the time of application for the STEM OPT extension.

    The Designated School Official (DSO) at ISSS must recommendyour STEM OPT extension in SEVIS, after:

    • verifying your eligibility
    • certifying that your degree is on the STEM Designated Degree Program List
    • and ensuring that you are aware of your responsibilities for maintaining status while on OPT
  • If you are currently on 17-month STEM OPT
  • You may request a 7-month extension if, as of May 10, 2016, you will have at least 150 calendar days remaining on your EAD at the time of filing Form I-765.  

    Individuals with at least 150 days left in their 17-month STEM OPT may request this extension up until August 8, 2016.  

    To request this extension, please complete Form I-983 Training Plan before requesting a new I-20 in iPenn and applying for an EAD card from USCIS using Form I-765.  

  • If you are applying for a STEM extension based on a previously earned degree
  • You may apply for a STEM OPT Extension based on a previously-earned degree if you can show:

    • The degree was granted by an accredited US educational institution
    • Your major is currently on the list of STEM Majors
    • The degree was obtained within the past 10 years
    • You have not previously used the degree as the basis of a STEM Extension 

    You may apply up to 90 days before the end of your regular OPT.  Please omplete  Form I-983 Training Plan before requesting a new I-20 in iPenn and applying for an EAD card from USCIS using form I-765.  

Application Process

  1. Review the F-1 OPT Overview.
  2. Prepare Form I-983 Training Plan with your employer.
  3. Submit your OPT I-20 request form in iPenn.
  4. Within 60 days of receiving your I-20, submit your Application to USCIS.
  5. Follow the Reporting Requirements.

If you timely file a non-frivolous application for a STEM OPT extension, you will be able to continue employment while the extension application is pending, until a final decision on the I-765 or for 180 days, whichever comes first.

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What's Next?

Once you have read through the overview you should prepare Form I-983 Training Plan with your employer.  All fields are required to apply, except for the evaluation pages which will be completed after 12- and 24-months.    For additional information on how to complete Form I-983, please see the DHS Study in the Sttes STEM OPT Hub.

After you have completely prepared Form I-983, you can complete the F-1 OPT-STEM iPenn Request.