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STEM OPT Extension


The STEM OPT extension is a 24-month period of temporary employment or practical training that is directly related to an F-1 student’s program of study in an approved science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field. (8 CFR 214, 8CFR 274). Additional information can be found on the Study in the States website, STEM OPT HUB.

Students with STEM degrees who are currently in their 12-month Post-completion OPT period may be eligible for an extension of their Post-Completion OPT work permission.

This rule provides the following to F-1 students:

  1. It allows two STEM OPT Extensions per lifetime. However, the second STEM OPT extension must be based upon a degree completed at a higher educational level than the first one.
  2. It requires students to complete a training plan (Form I-983) and annual self-evaluations and obtain employer’s signature.
  3. It allows unemployment period of 150 days (90 days during the initial OPT authorization and an additional 60 days during the 24 month STEM extension.


To qualify for the 24-Month OPT Extension:

  • You must currently be participating in a post-completion OPT based on the most recent degree (which can be or not be STEM-related).
  • You must hold a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in an eligible STEM degree that is either a current or past degree earned at a U.S. school within the past 10 years of the date the designated school official (DSO) from EKU recommends the STEM OPT extension.
  • The school where you earned your STEM degree must be Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified and accredited.
  • Your employer must be enrolled in the E-Verify Program.
  • Your employer must agree to complete and certify your Form I-983, formal training and learning objectives; to review your annual self-evaluation and sign it to confirm its accuracy and to report any material changes to existing Form I-983 to EKU.
  • Your employment must be a paid position; volunteering is unacceptable for STEM extension.
  • Your employment must be 20 hours or more per week
  • You have been unemployed less than 90 days during current post-completion OPT authorization.
  • You have not previously received the 24-month STEM OPT extension
  • You must be bona fide (genuine) employee of the employer signing the Form I-983. Therefore, self-employment is not acceptable.

Application Timeline

To avoid delay or denial of your STEM OPT Extension application, please submit your application in timely manner and understand the following:

  • You may submit your STEM OPT Extension application to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) no earlier than 90 days before the expiration date of your current, 12-month post-completion OPT. However, we recommend that you submit your application to OISSS at least 110 days before the current OPT expires to allow ample time for processing.
  • The start date will be the day after the end date of the initial 12 month OPT authorization.
  • Your complete application and required documents must be received by USCIS within 60 days from the date your I-20 was issued by OISSS with the STEM OPT Extension recommendation.
  • Your application will be denied if USCIS receives it after the expiration date on your current EAD card or after 60 days when the STEM OPT Extension was issued.
  • You may continue employment up to 180 days while your application is still pending.
  • Your post-completion OPT employer does not need to be the same as your STEM OPT Extension employer.

How to Apply for STEM OPT Extension

Step 1: Gather and Complete Required Forms

  1. STEM OPT Extension Request Form: PDF or online.
  2. Form I-983, Training Plan for STEM OPT Students (pages 1-4) completed by you and your employer. Instructions are located here.
  3. Two (2) Most Recent Colored Passport Photos. They must be taken within the last 30 days. Lightly print your name and I-94 number on the back of each photo with a pencil or felt pen.
  4. I-765 Application Fee of $410. You can pay the Form I-765 application fee by check, money order or by credit card.
  5. Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance. We recommend you type in your answers before printing the form.
  6. Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. We recommend you type in your answers before printing the form and signing preferably in black ink. See Sample Form I-765 for Post-completion OPT how to complete the form. 
    • Please enter the following Eligibility Category: (c) (3) (C) on item #27 and
    • On items #28.a-28.c – List degree exactly as shown on your I-20 and enter Employer name and “E-Verify” Company Identification Number. (Ask your Human Resources office for this number).
  7. I-94 Arrival/Departure Record. Electronic printout or copy of front and back of I-94 card or Form I-797, Approval Notice for Change of Status to F-1.
  8. Photocopies of all previously issued I-20s (pages 1 and 3 or pages 1 and 2).
  9. Photocopy of STEM degree official transcripts or diploma.
  10. Photocopy of a valid passport biographical page.
    • Page that includes you name, photo, passport number and expiration date
    • Must be valid for at least 6 months prior to application date
  11. Photocopy of F-1 student visa (if applicable)(citizens of Canada and Bermuda are exempt).
  12. Photocopy of any previous Employment Authorization Document (s) (EAD) (front and back).
  13. Photocopy of employment offer letter documented on the employer’s letterhead.

Step 2: Send Required Documents to OISSS

Scan ALL the above documents as PDF and upload them online or email them to: The Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISSS) will review your documents and offer you suggestion if any corrections need to be made. An advisor from OISSS will then issue and mail you the new STEM OPT Extension I-20.

Step 3: Mail Your Complete Application to USCIS

After you receive your new I-20, please sign and date it and make copies of page 1 and 2. You should keep the original I-20, but must send the copy with your STEM OPT Extension application.

Before you send your application to USCIS, please make copies of all the documents for your records.

Please mail your application packet to the USCIS Lockbox mailing address below serving the state you listed on Form I-765 as place of residence. USCIS must receive your application within 60 days of the date printed on the new I-20. We strongly encourage you to send your application to USCIS by express mail.

Here are what you must send to USCIS in the order indicated below: 

  1. I-765 Application fee of $410. Paperclip check or money order on top or Form G-1450 if paying with credit card
  2. Two (2) US Passport-style Photos. Paperclip them on top of the documents
  3. Original completed Form G-1145
  4. Original completed Form I-765
  5. Photocopy of new STEM OPT Extension I-20 signed and dated on page 1.
  6. Photocopies of all previously issued I-20s (pages 1 and 3 or pages 1 and 2).
  7. Photocopy of STEM degree official transcripts or diploma.
  8. Photocopy of any previous Employment Authorization Document (s)(EAD) (front and back).
  9. Printout of I-94, Arrival/Departure Form or copy of I-94 card (front and back)
  10. Photocopy of a valid passport biographical page
  11. Photocopy of F-1 visa (citizens of Canada and Bermuda are exempt).
  12. Copy of employment offer letter documented on the employer’s letterhead.

Mailing Address

If you live in: 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.

Mail your application to one of the USCIS mailing addresses below: 

  1. USCIS, PO Box 21281, Phoenix, AZ 85036 (by U.S. Postal Service deliveries)
  2. USCIS, Attn: AOS, 1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S, Suite 100, Phoenix, AZ 85034 (by Express mail and courier deliveries)

If you live in: 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

Mail your application to one of the USCIS mailing addresses below:

  1. USCIS, PO Box 660867, Dallas, TX 75266 (by U.S. Postal Service deliveries)
  2. USCIS, Attn: AOS, 2501 S. State Hwy. 121, Business Suite 400, Lewisville, TX 75067 (by Express mail and courier deliveries)

STEM OPT Reporting Requirements

While you are on the 24-month STEM OPT extension, you are still in F-1 student status and considered an EKU student and so you must continue reporting to the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISSS) the following information:

Student Reporting Requirements

There are several reporting requirements for students while on the STEM OPT extension. All reporting must be submitted to the Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISSS) using the appropriate OPT Reporting Form or SEVP Portal.

Please note, any changes you report to us will be entered in your SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) record.

1. General Reporting

During the STEM OPT extension period, the student must report to OISSS the following changes within 10 days of change:

  • Change of legal name
  • Change of residential or mailing address
  • Change of employer name, employer address and/or loss of employment
  • Change in employers (this requires a new completed and signed I-983 Training Plan)
  • Change of status (e.g. change from F-1 to H-1B etc.)
  • Departing U.S. before OPT end date

2. Six Months Validation Reports

Students must submit validation reports every 6 months (6th, 12th, and 18th month) from the start of STEM OPT extension to confirm that student’s name, U.S. residential address, employer name and address, and employment status are correct. OISSS must then submit a validation report in your SEVIS record. The validation report should be submitted to OISSS at least 10 days before due dates. OISSS will give you estimated validation date at the time you apply for OPT STEM Extension and an email reminder before due date.

3. Student Self-Evaluations

Students must submit a self-evaluation at the end of any employment and at the 12th and 24th month marks from the start date of the STEM extension. Students must complete and sign a self-evaluation on Form I-983 and obtain employer’s signature verifying accuracy of self-evaluation.

You must submit a final self-evaluation with the old employer if you change a job.

4. Material Changes to the Existing Training Plan Form I-983

If there are material changes to or deviations from the Form I-983 the student and employer must sign a modified training plan reflecting the material changes. The student must then submit the Form to OISSS within 10 days.

Material changes include, but are not limited to:

  • Change in employer’s EIN (Employer Identification Number)
  • Reduction in your compensation that is not tied to a reduction in hours worked
  • A significant decrease in hours worked per week
  • Changes to the employer’s commitments or your learning objectives

Employer Reporting Requirements

  • The employer MUST complete and sign the Training Plan on Form I-983 along with the student.
  • The employer is required to report to OISSS any job termination or early departure of an OPT student within five business days.
  • The employer must consider a student to have departed when the employer knows the student has left the practical training opportunity or if the student has not reported for work for a period of five consecutive business days without the employer’s consent.

Employers should report the termination or departure of an EKU student who is on the STEM OPT Extension by emailing us at

Office of International Student and Scholar Services

521 Lancaster Avenue
Powell 013
Richmond, KY 40475
Phone: 859-622-3446

Connect with OISSS @ EKU