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The basic 24-month STEM OPT extension process

  1. A student with a STEM-qualifying bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree from an accredited, SEVIS-certified U.S. educational institution, who is in a valid period of standard post-completion OPT, has an offer of paid employment for at least 20 hours per week from an employer enrolled in E-Verify.

  2. The student consults his or her DSO on STEM OPT extension eligibility and procedures.

  3. The student and the employer complete a Form I-983 Training Plan, and the student submits the completed plan to the DSO.

  4. The DSO reviews the Form I-983 submitted by the student, and determines that it is "complete, signed, and addresses all program requirements."

  5. The DSO determines that the degree program that will serve as the basis of the STEM OPT extension is on the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List.

  6. The DSO updates the student's SEVIS record with a recommendation for a 24-month STEM OPT extension, and issues a new Form I-20 that reflects the STEM OPT extension recommendation.

  7. Within 60 days of the DSO's recommendation in SEVIS, and before the expiration of the student's post-completion OPT, the student files with USCIS: Form I-765, the Form I-765 filing fee, the STEM OPT Form I-20, and documentation of the STEM degree.

  8. The 24-month STEM OPT extension period begins on the day following the expiration of the student's standard post-completion OPT. If the Form I-765 is still pending as of that date, the student is authorized to continue employment for up to 180 days after the expiration of the student's post-completion OPT.

  9. USCIS will issue an EAD reflecting the approved STEM OPT extension.

  10. Throughout the STEM OPT extension period, the student, employer(s), and school comply with all reporting, training, supervision, evaluation, wage, documentation, and other obligations specified in the regulations and on Form I-983.