STEM OPT Tutorial

Please note that this is a guide and does not constitute legal advice.

Purpose

This section is to apply for the STEM OPT extension, which is for students who are already on their first year of OPT. If you are not currently on OPT, please see the page on applying for OPT.

Please check your I-20 to make sure that your major as listed is STEM eligible. List of STEM-eligible majors and CIP codes (pdf).

1. Request forms

The first step to apply for STEM OPT online is to request your OPT I-20. Complete the myPassport forms, which can be found under F-1 Optional Practical Training > STEM OPT Extension Request. You will need this newly issued I-20 to apply for STEM OPT. After you complete these forms, an international student advisor will issue you a STEM OPT endorsed I-20.

2. Gather the necessary materials

  1. Digital 2″x2″ color passport photo that meets USCIS specifications
  2. A scan of your passport photograph page
  3. A scan of the front and back of any previous EAD cards (if applicable)
  4. A scan of any previous I-20s with CPT or OPT information (if available)
  5. A digital copy of your I-20 with an OPT recommendation
    • You must apply for STEM OPT with this I-20 within 30 days of when it was issued. As a reminder, you must apply via myPassport to receive a new I-20 before filing for your STEM OPT online.
    • The I-20 must be signed by an ISSS advisor and by you
  6. Your most recent form I-94
  7. A credit card with which you can pay the filing fee
  8. STEM extension applicants only: a copy of your diploma or official transcript

You should NOT submit your I-983 as part of the STEM OPT application to USCIS. These materials will be attached in the “Evidence” section of the online application.

3. Apply online

  1. Create an online account with USCIS.gov; click on Sign In and select Create an Account
  2. Select My Account → File a Form Online → I-765 “Application for Employment Authorization”
  3. Select your eligibility code.
    • For the 24-month STEM extension, select (c)(3)(C) – STEM Extension
    • You will have additional questions about your degree and employer. Make sure you have the employer’s E-Verify number, which is a 4 to 7 digit number. The E-Verify number is not the same as the EIN.
  4. Answer: What is your reason for applying?
    • For the STEM extension, select “Renewal of permission to accept employment” as you are extending your current employment authorization
  5. If you are applying for your STEM extension, or if you have ever previously applied for OPT, you will answer “Yes” to “Have you ever filled out Form I-765?”

4. Answer the questions as they apply to you

Keep the following points in mind:

  • For mailing address, you may use the International Programs’ ISSS mailing address if you would like.

c/o WSU International Student and Scholar Services
P.O. Box. 645121
Pullman, WA 99164

  • If you use our mailing address, you should answer the next question “No” and indicate your own address as the physical address.
  • Most F-1 students do not have an A-number or USCIS online account number, so you can indicate this. If you previously had an EAD, the USCIS number is your A-number.

5. Provide evidence

This is where you will upload the materials you have collected for the application.

  • Under “Employment Authorization Document,” if you have previously been issued an EAD, you should upload this here. Otherwise, you can upload the photo page of your passport.
  • The Form I-20 document should be the one issued from our office with the STEM OPT authorization indicated on page 2.
  • If you are applying for STEM Extension (c)(3)(C): Under the “Institutional Accreditation” section, you do not need to upload anything if you are using a previously earned degree from WSU to qualify for the STEM extension.

6. Additional information

Most students do not need to fill out anything in this section. If you believe you have a situation that needs to be addressed in this section, please see an international student advisor. Some common issues include an expiring passport, discrepancies between the I-94 and your travel history, and a change of status that occurred while you were in the U.S.

Frequently Asked Questions

You can check the CIP code, which is located on your I-20, against the government’s list of STEM-eligible programs. Or, you can meet with an international student advisor.

You can apply up to 90 days prior to the end of your OPT period. Your application must be received by USCIS before the end of your OPT.

Yes. You must have a job offer or current job with an e-Verify employer. The job must be related to your STEM degree.

Your STEM OPT extension will begin the day after your OPT ends and will end 2 years after the start. For example, if your OPT ends on May 31, 2023, your STEM OPT extension will begin on June 1, 2023, and continue to May 31, 2025.

That is okay. As long USCIS receives your application before the end of your OPT period, you are automatically granted a 180-day extension to your employment authorization.

The documents are similar to an OPT application. One major difference is that you will need to fill out the I-983. Another difference is that you will need to provide proof that you graduated with a STEM-eligible degree, either with a copy of the diploma or with an official transcript. Similarly to OPT, you cannot apply for the STEM extension without a STEM OPT-endorsed I-20.