STEM Extension – Eligible Majors
Optional Practical Training (OPT) can be extended beyond the normal 12 months to 29 months for STEM degree holding F-1 students. This applies to students who have obtained a degree in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields and are currently participating in a 12-month period of OPT. To review our complete OPT Extension Policy, please see our policy page.
- Students in the following majors, with the accompanying CIP codes, are STEM-eligible. STEM extension eligibility is based on the student’s major and not the student’s degree concentration. (To determine your CIP code, look at page 3 of your I-20. The CIP code is the 6-digit numerical code (XX.XXXX) listed directly before your major at the top of the page):
- Actuarial Science (52.1304)
- Astronomy (40.0201)
- Biology/Biological Sciences (26.0101)
- Business Analysis (14.3701)
- Chemistry (40.0501)
- Computer Science (11.0701)
- Computer Information Systems (11.0101)
- Decision Sciences (14.3701)
- Educational Research (13.0603)
- Geology/Earth Science (40.0601)
- Information Systems Audit & Control (11.1003)
- Mathematics (27.0101)
- Mathematics & Statistics (27.9999)
- Neuroscience (26.1501)
- Operations Research (14.3701)
- Physics (40.0801)
- Students must be currently in a period of approved, post-completion OPT.
- Students must be currently employed by, or have a confirmed offer of employment from, an employer participating in the E-Verify program.
Application Timeline and Procedures
Students must apply for the STEM extension before the expiration date listed on their current EAD card (Employment Authorization Document) issued by USCIS. USCIS recommends that students apply 90-120 days prior to their EAD expiration date. ISSS recommends eligible students apply no later than one month prior to the EAD expiration date, to allow time for formal receipt processing at USCIS.
Follow these steps to apply:
- Review and Submit the OPT STEM Extension Request Formvia email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or fax (404-413-2072).
- Advisor will review and send you a new I-20 reflecting your STEM request (updated page 3).
- Review I-20 for accuracy and mail the following documents to USCIS in order:
- Check (drawable on U.S. funds) or U.S. money order for $380, made payable to Department of Homeland Security
- Two (2) passport-style photos with I-94# lightly penciled on the back of photos. See http://travel.state.gov/ for specific details. Photos need to be within the last 30 days.
- Completed Form I-765 (signed in blue ink). Make sure to include the proper STEM Code (c) (3) (C) in section #16 of I-765 and to include in section #17 the name of your degree, employer’s name as listed in E-Verify, as well as your employer’s E-Verify number. (Failure to include a valid company E-Verify number will result in delay or denial of application).
- Original, signed copy of I-20 (print, sign, and date your I-20 on page 1 with blue ink).
- Copy of passport biographical page
- Copy of Visa Stamp or Change of Status Approval Notice if you changed status in the U.S.
- Copy of I-94 card (front & back)
- Copy of EAD Card
- Georgia State University transcript, showing conferral of degree in one of the STEM categories listed above
- Copy of diploma conferring degree in one of the STEM categories listed above
- Job offer letter (optional)
ISSS strongly recommends you make copies of all documents you send USCIS for your records. For mailing addresses for the STEM application, please see below.
Mailing Addreses for USCIS
Regular U.S. Postal Delivery:
U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS), P.O. Box 660867, Dallas, Texas 75266
Express Mail Delivery (e.g. Federal Express):
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), ATTN: AOS, 2501 S. State Highway 121 Business, Suite 400, Lewisville, Texas 75067
Upon approval by USCIS, the STEM extension period will begin the day after the expiration of the first OPT period (as listed on the EAD card), and will end 17 months after that. For example, if the current EAD expires on 10/01/2010, the STEM period will begin on 10/02/2010 and will end on 02/28/2012.
Working while Application is Pending
If your current EAD has expired and a STEM extension is pending with USCIS, you may continue to work for up to 180 days while the extension is pending. Upon approval, USCIS will issue and mail you a new EAD card showing the extended dates.
During STEM Employment
Students on STEM OPT employment must:
- Work in a paid position for an E-Verify employer at least 20 hours per week
- Work in a position related to the STEM degree
- Report within 10 days of the following:
- Legal name change
- Change in residential or mailing address
- Change in employer (provide the employer name, address, and start date)
- Loss of employment
- Report every 6 months from the start date of the STEM period with the following:
- Full legal name
- Current mailing and residential address
- Name and address of current employer
- Date the student began working for current employer
Students on STEM OPT must NOT:
- Work for any employer who is not enrolled in E-Verify
- Accrue more than 120 days of unemployment during the entire 29-month OPT period
H-1B CAP GAP
All F-1 students who are currently on OPT, have timely filed for an H-1B, and have a USCIS issued I-797C receipt from immigration will automatically have their status and OPT work permission extended until the effective H1-B start date. No application is required. Contact an ISSS advisor for more information.