24-Month STEM OPT Extension | Webster University

24-Month STEM OPT Extension

F-1 students who are currently authorized for OPT employment based on completion of a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Ph.D. degree in a STEM field, as defined by DHS, may be eligible for a 24-month extension of OPT. In order to be eligible for this extension, students applying for this benefit must:

There is a lifetime limit of two periods of 24-month STEM OPT, each occurring after a higher degree level has been obtained.  A STEM degree obtained at a U.S. university prior to your current degree may be the basis for a STEM extension under certain circumstances. See detailed information on the STEM Hub: https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/stem-opt-hub

How to Apply

Click here for downloadable application instructions

To apply for the 24-Month STEM OPT Extension you need to follow these steps:

Step 1: Submit your completed and signed Request for 24-Month Extension of OPT (pages 3 & 4 of this document) AND your completed Training Plan I-983 form to intlservices@webster.edu.  

Step 2: After you will receive the new OPT I-20 and OPT Reporting Requirement Document you must do the following immediately after receiving this package:

  • Sign and date the I-20 immediately and make copy of page 1 and 2. Keep original for yourself. This is your new I-20 from now on. We will keep the copy for our record. Submit the copy with your OPT application.
    • Do not staple documents; use paper clips to keep documents together
    • Use a BLUE pen to sign I-20 and I-765.

It is your responsibility to make sure USCIS receives all required application materials within 30 days of the new OPT I-20 being issued.  

You must mail your completed application packet with tracking to USCIS within 15 days after your OPT I-20 has been issued.  This is critical as the dates on the I-765, check, photos, and I-20 must be less than 30 days old. 

Step 3: Include the following information, in this order, in your final application packet to USCIS:

  1. Check or Money order of $410.00 payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security." This must be the first item in your application packet.  
  2. Completed Form G-1145
  3. Completed, original, and signed Form I-765
  4. Copy of new signed OPT I-20 (with STEM OPT Extension Request on Page 2)
  5. Copies of all previously issued I-20s
  6. Copy of the most current I-94 card (front and back) OR the electronic print-out from this website
  7. Copy of valid passport page with photo and expiration date
  8. Two (2) recent U.S. Style Passport Photo (taken within 30 days).  Write your name and I-94 number on the back of each photo. 
  9. Copy of the most recent F-1 student visa page
  10. Copy of previous Employment Authorization Card (if any).

Collect all documents and put them in the proper order.  It is a best practice to make a copy of all the above documents and keep them for your records. 

Step 4: Mail your OPT Application 

If you live in: Mail your application to:
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Guam, or the Northern Mariana Islands. USCIS Phoenix Lockbox,

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries:
USCIS
PO Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036

For Express mail and courier deliveries:
USCIS
Attn: AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034
Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands, or West Virginia USCIS Dallas Lockbox


For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Deliveries:
USCIS
PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

For Express mail and courier deliveries:
USCIS
Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

 

E-Notification: If you want to receive an e-mail and/or a text message that your Form I-765 has been accepted at a USCIS Lockbox facility, complete Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance and clip it to the first page of your application.

OPT STEM Extensions: Eligibility and Requirements

This information is based on the most recent changes to the STEM OPT rules, effective from March 11, 2016, published by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  

Duration: The STEM Extension will be for 24 months.

STEM Application Period: STEM applications may only be submitted when 90 days or fewer remain in the initial 12-Month OPT EAD.

Lifetime Limit: F-1 visa holders are allowed a total of 2 lifetime STEM Extensions, the 2nd after earning a new STEM-eligible degree at a higher level and obtaining a new, higher level of 12-Month OPT. However, in some cases a STEM Extension can be based on a previously earned STEM Degree.

Degrees Eligible for the STEM Extension: https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/eligible-cip-codes-for-the-stem-opt-extension

Required Training Plan and Form I-983: Requires significant responsibility of the employer to provide a training plan related to the field of study, and attestations to wages and compensation being commensurate with "similarly situated U.S. workers."

Types of Employment Allowed: STEM-eligible employers must have e-Verify & EIN numbers and the student must have a "bona fide employer-employee relationship".

Volunteer/unpaid, employment through employment agencies and self- employment are NOT allowed. Other types of employment are also problematic- including multiple employer arrangements, sole proprietorships, employment through ‘‘temp'' agencies, employment through consulting firm arrangements that provide labor for hire, and other relationships that do not constitute a bona fide employer-employee relationship. DHS confirms that students cannot qualify for STEM OPT extensions unless they will be bona fide employees of the employer signing the Training Plan, and the employer that signs the Training Plan must be the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience.

Obligations for Students, Schools, and Employers: 6 Month validation reports, annual evaluations, and submission of a new I-983 in case of material changes to the original I-983 are now required. Employers must agree to Department of Homeland Security site visits, as well as provide attestations to wages and working conditions.

Increased Unemployment: Students with 24-Month STEM Extensions may have up to 150 days of unemployment during the total OPT period including initial 12-Month and 24-Month STEM OPT period.

Further Resources: