F-1 Student Visa STEM OPT Extension

F-1 students pursuing a degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (“STEM”) are eligible for a 24-month extension after completion of their Optional Practical Training (“OPT”).

Basic Requirements:
  • The student has obtained OPT, and it is still valid.
  • The student holds a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from an accredited school, also certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (“SEVP”).
  • Students currently pursuing OPT based on a non-STEM degree are nevertheless eligible to apply for a STEM OPT extension if they earned a previous STEM degree from a U.S institution of higher education.
    • Students must have obtained both degrees from currently accredited and SEVP certified-institutions.
    • Students cannot have already received a STEM OPT extension based on this previous degree.
    • The OPT must be directly related to the STEM degree.
  • Students who, in the future, enroll in a new academic program and get another qualifying STEM degree at a higher educational level, are eligible for one additional 24-month STEM OPT extension.
  • Students must work for a qualified employer, which means that the employer needs to:
    • be enrolled in e-Verify.
    • guarantee the student will work a minimum of 20 hours per week.
    • provide the student with formal training and learning objectives.
    • show that the training opportunity is in direct relationship to the student’s qualifying STEM degree.
  • During OPT, a student may be unemployed for a limited number of days.
    • During the initial post-completion OPT period, the student may be unemployed for no more than 90 days.
    • During the STEM OPT extension period, the student may be unemployed for no more than 150 days.
Maintaining STEM OPT Extension Status:
  • The student and employer have specific responsibilities:
    • The student must report the following changes within ten (10) days: legal name; residential and mailing address; email address; employer’s name; and employer’s address. Even if no changes occur, the student must confirm such information every six (6) months.
    • The employer must:
      • Be enrolled in e-Verify, and remain as a good standing participant.
      • Have a valid Employer Identification Number (“EIN”) issued by the Internal Revenue Service for tax purposes.
      • File a modified training plan when the student’s STEM OPT employment materially changes.
      • Report the student’s termination or departure within five (5) business days.
      • Implement formal training to enhance the student’s academic training through practical experience.
      • Ensure the student’s work duties, hours, and compensation are similar to U.S. workers in similar situations.