How to apply for STEM OPT

24-month STEM OPT Extension 

Please email for all questions regarding STEM OPT.

When to apply: 

Students with a STEM degree and currently in the 12-month OPT period:

  • USCIS must receive your STEM OPT extension application before your current 12-month OPT EAD card expiration date.
  • Apply as early as 90 days before your current 12-month OPT EAD card expiration date.
  • Take into consideration:
    • CISP needs 7-10 business days for processing your new I-20.
    • Allow sufficient time to mail your application to USCIS.

How to apply:

Students with a STEM degree currently in the 12-month OPT period: 

STEP 1: Confirm your 12-month OPT information is correct

  • Is your 12-month OPT information up-to-date? Check the SEVP Portal.
    • If your current address and employment information is correct, proceed to Step 2 below.
  • If your current address and employment information is not correct, submit a OPT Work Address. (Do not request a new I-20 in the 12-month OPT report webform; just submit the information changes. You will request a new I-20 in the separate 24-month STEM OPT I-20 request webform below).

    CISP must ensure the 12-month OPT information in your SEVIS record is accurate and updated before processing your STEM OPT I-20 request.

STEP 2: Complete the STEM OPT online presentation

Step 3: Complete all required application requirements.

  1. Gather and complete the following documents
    1. I-983 Training Plan (PDF icon download I-983 form tips)
  2. Completed I-765 Form (PDF icon download I-765 form tips)
  3. Submit the online STEM OPT Extension I-20 Request to CISP throught the online application that was emailed to you after completing the online presentation
  4. Allow 7-10 business days for processing. An CISP adviser will review your application and issue a new, updated I-20 with a STEM OPT Extension recommendation printed on the back page.

Step 4: Pick up obtain new Form I-20 and prepare your application. (see website for details)

Step 5: Mail your STEM OPT Extension Application to the USCIS via Express Mail. (click here for details)

Click here to see a 24-month STEM OPT extension presentation 

Documents for the STEM OPT Application will not be accepted in person. Please follow the directions carefully in each section. Make sure to watch and complete each section of the presentation to receive the application for the STEM OPT Form I-20. It will be emailed to you once you submit the completion certificate. 


* USCIS Announcement About Online STEM OPT Filing:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on April 12, 2021 that F-1 students seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT) and STEM OPT 24-month extension now have the option to file their applications online. Please click here for the full announcement.

This new online filing system is still in the testing phase and USCIS has acknowledged that the soft release could include glitches or lead to errors in adjudication. CISP encourage students to continue filing OPT and STEM OPT applications by mail while the USCIS online filing system is tested.

Note that you should proceed with the online application process very carefully. The system allows you to submit your application without all required evidence, which can lead to requests for evidence and additional difficulties. This means you must be very careful to ensure that everything is included before submitting the online application. The general suggestions below are not intended to be legal advice. They are simply general suggestions for how you might proceed when completing the online I-765 application.

* Recommended Steps for Completing the I765 Application Online, if you want to file via online:

The online filing option allows F-1 students to apply for the STEM OPT Extension EAD, upload supporting application documents, pay the $410 filing fee, track the status of their application, communicate with USCIS through a secure inbox, and respond to Requests for Evidence (RFE).

First: Create your online USCIS account:

Second: From the student’s myUSCIS account, under File A Form, select “Application for Employment Authorization (I-765)”. It is the student’s responsibility to complete the Form I-765 application fully and accurately in accordance with USCIS instructions. Students may use the guide below for additional assistance.

Third: Students must have copies of the following documents ready to upload when filing the Form I-765 through myUSCIS:

¨ Recent passport-style 2x2 color photograph (JPG, JPEG, or PNG): Must comply with U.S. Department of State passport photograph requirements
¨ Copy of OPT EAD card AND copy of passport page that includes photo, passport number and expiration date (JPG, JPEG, PDF, TIF, TIFF): Passport must be valid for at least 6 months from application date
¨ Most recent electronic Form I-94 (JPG, JPEG, PDF, TIF, TIFF)
¨ Verification of Degree/Graduation (JPG, JPEG, PDF, TIF, TIFF): A copy of official transcript OR a copy of diploma showing degree earned and program of study will fulfill this requirement
¨ Signed STEM OPT Extension I-20 (all pages) (JPG, JPEG, PDF, TIF, TIFF): Student must print I-20 and sign the Student Attestation section in ink. Student must check the expiration date of their OPT EAD and Date Issued on Page 1 of their STEM OPT Extension I-20. If their application is received by USCIS after the expiration of the OPT EAD and/or more than 60 days after Date Issued on Page 1 of the STEM OPT Extension I-20, their STEM OPT Extension will be denied.

* The document below only applicable for students applying for STEM OPT Extension based on a prior degree, not CSU degree: 

¨ ​​​​​​​Institution Accreditation (JPG, JPEG, PDF, TIF, TIFF): Most students apply for STEM OPT Extension based on their most recently obtained degree from CSU. This upload does not apply to CSU graduates. If applying for STEM OPT Extension based on a prior degree, the student must upload the supplemental documents:
1) Letter of Explanation from Student: 
This letter should explain student is applying based on a previously obtained degree, and include the date, student’s name, SEVIS ID, I-94 admission number, STEM-eligible degree name with CIP code, a list of the supporting documents being included for review, and the student’s wet signature.
2) Letter of Support from Employer: Must be on official letterhead and include the date, employer contact information, and the employer’s wet signature.
3) Proof of STEM-Eligible Prior Degree: Photocopy of I-20 for Previous Degree with STEM OPT Eligible CIP Code. This may be an I-20 from a previous school other than CSU.

Final Step: Filing Fee—Prior to submitting the Form I-765, the student will be prompted to complete the $410 filing fee payment online. Payment can be completed by electronic bank transfer or with a credit or debit card.