OPT Extension

What is the OPT STEM Extension? 

The OPT STEM Extension is a 24-month extension of Post-Completion OPT work authorization for individuals who are engaged in Post-Completion OPT based on a bachelor's, master's, or Ph.D in certain STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) fields.

Who is Eligible for the OPT STEM Extension?  

 F-1 students who:

  • are on OPT following completion of a STEM degree
  • are currently on post-completion OPT and have only worked for a U.S employer in a job directly related to student's STEM field listed on I-20
  • have or will have an employer registered with E-verify
  • have never had a previous OPT STEM Extension (STEM Extensions provide a once in a lifetime authorization)

What is E-verify?

E-verify is a program that electronically compares information on the I-9 form with Social Security and DHS records to help employers verify identity and employment eligibility of new hires. It is currently free in all 50 states. Your employer can register with E-verify at www.uscis.gov.

When should I apply for the OPT STEM Extension?  

An F-1 student must apply for the STEM Extension in the 90 days window before the current EAD expires. You cannot apply more than 90 days before your OPT is scheduled to expire.  You must submit your OPT STEM Extension application maetrials to USCIS no later than 60 days after the I-20 with the OPT STEM recommendation was created.

When can I begin my STEM Extension work?  

The STEM Extension work authorization begins on the day after the expiration of the initial post-completion OPT authorization, and ends 24 months later, regardless of the date the actual extension is approved. Students who timely file a STEM Extension application will be able to continue employment with the E-verify employer while the extension application is pending, until adjudication or for 180 days, whichever comes first.  

Can I change employers during the OPT STEM Extension?  

Yes. However, you can only change employment to another employer registered with E-verify. The employment must also be directly related to your STEM degree. It is NOT recommended to change E-verify employers while the application is pending with USCIS since the I-765 names a specific employer.  

Can I remain unemployed during my OPT STEM Extension?

During this time, your F-1 status is dependent on employment. Students must not accrue an aggregate of more than 120 days of unemployment during the total 36 month OPT period.  

What are my reporting requirements while on the OPT STEM Extension?

STEM OPT students must report to the the Office of International Admissions every 6 months following the start date of the 24-month extension, even if there is no information to update.  The student must report: legal name, residential or mailing address, e-mail address, employer name, and employer address.  Students can report this information starting 15 days before the reporting date and up to 31 days after.  SEVIS will automatically terminate a student's OPT and F-1 status if the student fails to report to his/her school within this timeframe. This information is to be reported at: international@sunypoly.edu with "OPT STEM REPORTING" in the subject line of your email.  In addition, please complete form OPT STEM REPORTING.

What if I have a Bachelor's Degree in Actuarial Science but my current OPT is based on my MBA? Am I eligible?  

No. To be eligible for the OPT extension, the student must currently be in an approved post-completion OPT period based on a designated STEM degree.   If my primary major is not a STEM degree but my secondary major is in STEM, do I qualify?   Yes, as long as the secondary major is listed on your I-20 and your current OPT work directly relates to that major. 


How to apply for an OPT STEM extension:

STEP 1: Fax the following forms (I-765, I-983 and Employer Recommendation Form/Acknowledgment of Responsibilities) to the Office of International Admissions - 315-792-7221. Email copies are not accepted. Be sure to fill out all forms in black ink only.  An incomplete packet will delay your application.

  • Complete Form I-983 Training Plan and Evaluation We cannot recommend you for a STEM extension until we review and approve the plan.

  • Form I-765 (Tips for filling out the form):

    • I am applying for – Renewal of my permission to accept employment (attached a copy of your previous employment authorization document)

    • US Address: Must be your own address.  Your USCIS correspondence and EAD card will be mailed to this address.  Please do not use SUNY Poly address.

    • Item 16: Eligibility Category – ( c ) ( 3 ) ( c )

    • Item 17: List your degree, employer’s name and E-verify number

  • Employer Recommendation Form/Acknowledgment of Responsibilities (to be printed, completed, and signed by employer) 

STEP 2:  RECEIVE, REVIEW, AND MAIL YOUR STEM APPLICATION PACKET TO THE USCIS

After you receive the STEM OPT I-20 form and enclosure from the Office of International Admissions, you are responsible for reviewing your STEM application and sending it to the USCIS.  It is crucial that you send an application that is complete and accurate. Incomplete and/or inaccurate applications may result in delay or denial of your STEM OPT. We strongly recommend that you send it express mail such as Fedex, or UPS, or by USPS Certified Mail / Return Receipt Requested, so that you can track it to ensure it arrives to the USCIS successfully.  

The following items must be included when you send your STEM application:

  1. Original completed I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with original signature. DO NOT send the I-765 photocopy.

  2. Photocopy of a signed new STEM  I-20 pages 1 and 2. You must sign your new I-20 before making a photocopy.

  3. Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance - this form is optional. If you include it, you will receive an email or text message informing you that the USCIS has received your application. 

  4. Proof of the STEM Degree (copy of diploma or official/unofficial transcript)

  5. Two (2) passport-style photos taken within 30 days of filling the application. The photos must be a full frontal face position and meet the specification for full frontal passport photos. Fore more information on photo standards, consult the Department of State website. Lightly print you name and admission number (I-94) in pencil (so the number does not smear) on the back of each picture. The admission number is your tracking number with USCIS.

  6. Filing fee: Check or money order for $410.00 Make check payable to: U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

  7. Photocopies of the following:

    1. Biographical page(s) of your passport, including the expiration date. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months in the future at the time of STEM OPT application.

    2. The most recent F-1 visa stamp in your passport (citizens of Canada are exempt from the visa requirement).

    3. The most recent admission stamp from your passport.

    4. An electronic I-94 printout that you can retrieve from the CBP website.

    5. Pages of ALL previously issued I-20s (SUNY Poly and any other institutions). Make certain all I-20s have been signed by you. USCIS may deny your application if copies of all I-20s are not included. If you don't have all I-20s issued to you, please write a letter stating that you did not keep the previous I-20s.

    6. Any previously issued employment authorization document (EAD)

STEP 3: MAILING YOUR APPLICATION TO THE USCIS

NOTE: All documents should be single-sided copies. Do not staple any documents.

  • Check your application for completeness and accuracy.

  • Double check the I-765 and the STEM OPT I-20 have been signed within the last 21 days.

  • Make a copy of your application for your records.


Where to file?

If you live in:

Mail your application to:

 

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 Northern Mariana Islands.

   USCIS Phoenix Lockbox

   For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries:

   USCIS

   PO Box 21281

   Phoenix, AZ 85036

 

   For Express mail and courier deliveries:

   USCIS
   Attn: AOS
   1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
   Suite 100
   Phoenix, AZ 85034

 

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

   USCIS Dallas Lockbox

   For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Deliveries:

   USCIS
   PO Box 660867
   Dallas, TX 75266

   

   For Express mail and courier deliveries:

   USCIS
   Attn: AOS
   2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
   Suite 400
   Lewisville, TX 75067


Questions?

Tze-Teck Sim, PDSO
Deputy Director, International Admissions & Student Services
Undergraduate and Graduate programs
Email: tsim@sunypoly.edu
Tel: +1 315-792-7219
Fax: +1 315-792-7221

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