Optional Practical Training (OPT)
STEM Extensions

Who is eligible for the STEM extension?

F-1 students who completed a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in a STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) and are currently engaged in post-completion OPT may apply for the STEM extension if they have a job or job offer from an E-Verify employer.

What is E-Verify?

It is a program operated by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration to help certify that employees hired by companies are legally authorized to work in the United States. http://www.dhs.gov/files/programs/gc_1185221678150.shtm

STEM Fields of Study:

A full listing of official STEM fields is found here: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/stemlist.htm

When do I apply for the STEM extension?

The student must ensure that the Form I-765, the supporting evidence and the fee payment ($380) reach the proper USCIS Service Center before his or her current OPT expires. USCIS recommends that students file within 90 days before the OPT ends.

How and where does a student file for the extension?

Contact the International Student Coordinator at UVM for assistance. You will need to submit another application with a Form I-765, copies of your immigration documents, proof of graduation and proof of employment or job offer with an E-Verify employer.

H1B Approval

While you are on OPT, an employer may wish to sponsor you for the H1B visa. If you are approved, inform OIE by submitting a copy of your H1B Approval Notice from USCIS. We will update your SEVIS record.

If you are working in the private-sector and your OPT will end before October 1st, then we will issue a “Cap-Gap I-20” for you (meaning your OPT will automatically extended until the H1B begins on October 1st.)

OPT STEM Extension Application Checklist

I-765 Instructions for STEM Extension

Complete the I-765 form online. Then print it and sign it.

Mail your OPT application packet to USCIS at the following address:

If you are sending it via Express Mail
(FedEx, UPS, DHL or US Postal Service):

USCIS
Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville TX 75067

If you are sending it by normal US Postal Service options
(including Priority Mail):

USCIS
PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

After you apply for STEM Extension OPT – What’s Next?

2-3 weeks after submitting your OPT application, you will receive a Notification of Receipt from USCIS. In the upper left-hand corner, you will see a code beginning with EAC or something similar then followed by a set of numbers. This will be your case number. You can track the status of your case online at https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/Dashboard.do using this number.

It can take between 45 and 90 days for your application to be processed. When your application is approved, USCIS will send you an Approval Notice then an Employment Authorization Document (EAD)—a card with your picture on it and the dates you are authorized to work under OPT.

While you are waiting for your EAD Card (STEM OPT Extension application is “pending”)

After STEM Extension OPT is approved

Things to remember

Note: Students who are on a STEM extension cannot meet their employment requirement through volunteer work.
Reporting Requirements Student must report to OIE (send an email to the International Coordinator) within 10 days any change of:

STEM OPT and Travel

If you have applied for a 17-month OPT STEM extension, and your current EAD card has expired, you can NOT travel outside the United States, even if employed, until the new EAD card is received. Once you receive your new card, you can travel but you must show the following documents upon re-entry to the US: