Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) OPT

STEM Extension OPT 

Recipients of bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in certain STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields may be eligible for a one-time 24-month extension of post-completion OPT for a total eligibility of up to 29 months. The 24-month Stem Extension OPT is adjudicated (approved) by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The end result of filing for the OPT 24-month STEM extension is an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card) which shows dates students are able to work legally in the United States.

STEM Extension Overview

STEM Extension Requirements

When to Apply
Apply before your current EAD expires. USCIS recommends you apply up to 120 days before your OPT expiration. You can continue to work for up to 180 days while the application is pending.

How to Apply

Where to send your Application
As a courtesy, we can mail the application for you or you can send your application to the appropriate lockbox depending where you reside.

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 Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, be sure to mail your application to the USCIS Phoenix lockbox:

USCIS Phoenix Lockbox
PO Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036

For Express Mail and Courier Deliveries
Attn: AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

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, be sure to mail your application to the USCIS Dallas lockbox:

USCIS Dallas Lockbox
PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

For Express Mail and Courier Deliveries
Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

Types of Eligible Employment For STEM OPT

  1. Multiple employers – Students may work for more than one employer, but all employment must be related to the student’s degree program.
  2. Work for hire– This is also commonly referred to as 1099 employment where an individual performs a service based on a contractual relationship rather than an employment relationship.
  3. Self-employed business owner– Students on OPT may start a business and be self-employed. In this situation, the student must work full-time. The student must be able to prove to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that he or she has the proper business licenses and is actively engaged in a business related to the student’s degree program.
  4. Employment through an employment agency consulting firm - A student on a 24-month extension may be employed by an employment agency or consulting firm. The employment agency or consulting firm must be registered with E-Verify, but the third parties contracting with the agency or firm (for which the student is providing services) need not be.

Limited Period of Unemployment to Maintain Status

An additional 30 days of unemployment time will be available during the extension, combined with the 90 days granted during initial 12-month. The aggregate total allowed is 120 days during the possible 29 months.

Students must report immediately to International Engagement of any changes in employment through the OPT Reporting Form.

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) strongly recommends that students keep evidence for each job regarding the position held, dates of position, the job title, supervisor name and contact information and a description of the job.

Reporting Requirements While on STEM Extension

Reporting requirements

During the 24-month STEM OPT extension period, both the student and the employer are subject to ongoing reporting requirements using the STEM OPT Reporting Form

Travel and reentry during the 24-month STEM OPT Extension

Required documents to re-enter the U.S. while on STEM extension OPT:

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