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Employment Authorization for F-1 Students


Int'l Student / Scholar Svcs
Fax: 202-885-3354
Butler Pavilion, Room 410

ISSS office walk-in advising hours: Mondays: 12:00 noon - 5:00 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays: 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.

Bakar, Senem S
Director, International Student & Scholar Services

Int'l Student / Scholar Svcs
4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW
410 Butler Pavilion
Washington, DC, USA 20016-8041

STEM OPT Extension

F-1 students approved for standard, post-completion Optional Practical Training who have earned a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) field that appears on the DHS STEM-Designated Degree Program List can apply to USCIS for an extension of post-completion OPT. 

As of May 10, 2016 the new, 24-month STEM OPT rule replaced the previous, 17-month rule. Eligible students may now apply for a 24-month STEM OPT extension. 

I am currently on a 17-month STEM OPT extension

You may file for an additional 7 months of STEM OPT work authorization if you have 150 days remaining on your current 17-month STEM OPT extension. 

  • You must have 150 days remaining at the time your application is filed
  • You must file before August 8, 2016
  • You must include a completed form I-983 (Training Plan) to be considered for the additional 7 months. Click here for instructions on how to fill out the form I-983.
  • Other application materials include the form I-765, a copy of your new I-20 issued by ISSS, copies of your passport and visa, photographs, proof of STEM degree (copy of diploma or transcript) and a check or money order for the processing fee

If your application was adjudicated before May 10, you may file for an additional 7 months of authorization between May 10 and August 8, 2016.

My application for STEM OPT is pending

If your application was pending on May 10, you will be sent a Request for Evidence (RFE) from USCIS. You will need to submit the following documents:

  • Additional documents requested by USCIS
Failure to submit these documents will result in a denial of your extension request.

I want to apply for the STEM extension

To apply for the 24-month STEM OPT extension, please email ISSS at to discuss your eligibility and timeline for applying. 

You will need the following materials in order to apply:

  • Form I-983 (Training Plan)
  • Form I-765
  • Proof of STEM Degree (transcript or diploma)
  • Copy of I-20 with STEM OPT recommendation from ISSS
  • Copy of your valid passport
  • Copy of your F-1 visa
  • Copy of most recent I-94
  • Copy of previous EAD card(s)
  • Two passport-size photographs
  • Check or money order for $380 made payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

To apply for the STEM OPT Extension, you must be employed by an E-Verify employer, be currently on OPT that is based on an approved STEM degree (or have received a qualifying STEM degree at the bachelor's level or higher within the last 10 years from a U.S. institution), and your position while on the STEM OPT must be paid. 

STEM OPT Reporting Requirements

  • Students with a STEM OPT extension must validate their employment with ISSS every 6 months. To do so, please fill out the reporting form
  • An annual evaluation is due at the end of each year of the STEM OPT extension. Students must complete and submit the Evaluation of Student Program portion of the I-983 to the ISSS office. The form I-983 can be downloaded here. Please note that for the annual evaluation, students need only to submit page 6 of the form.