Former students engaged in standard Optional Practical Training (OPT) based on a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in a qualified STEM field can apply to USCIS for a one-time (per degree level) 24-month extension. When and how to apply for the STEM OPT Extension varies slightly from that of the standard Post-Completion OPT.
Those interested in applying for the STEM OPT Extension must contact their International Student Advisor well before the end of their standard Post-Completion OPT authorization period (the expiration date listed on their OPT EAD Card), to allow for ample time for advising, and issuing the new 1-20 with the STEM OPT recommendation before filing your application online. The application for the STEM OPT Extension must be submitted and received by USCIS prior to the expiration date of the current OPT EAD Card.
The STEM OPT Extension may be issued for a prior STEM degree obtained by the student, as long as that student is in a current period of post-completion OPT. Students may apply for the STEM Extension once per degree level, two times, over the course of their career.
Study in the States offers free U.S. government resources that explain the rules and regulations governing the international student process in the United States. The following links are dedicated to answering STEM OPT-related questions.