To be eligible for the 17-month STEM OPT extension, you must:
When to Apply
You must apply for the 17-month STEM OPT extension before your Post-Completion OPT expires. It is not recommended you apply more than 120 days before your Post-Completion OPT expires.
Gather the following documents and bring or send them to the International Student Services office:
The ISS office should receive an official USCIS receipt notice within a month of mailing your packet. After receiving this, you may have this to check on the status of your application in the Case Status Online section of the USCIS website. If you do not receive a receipt notice within 5 weeks of mailing your packet, you should advise the ISS office.
Once you have applied for the 17-month STEM OPT Extension:
- You may continue your OPT employment while your extension request is pending for up to 180 days.
- You may not accumulate a total of more than 120 days of unemployment for 29 months of OPT.
- Any employment during the 17-month STEM OPT Extension period must be with an employer registered with the E-Verify program.
While on OPT
- You are still considered to be in F-1 student status while on OPT, so any questions or concerns can be addressed by an ISS advisor during this time.
- You must continue to verify your address information in SEVIS within 10 days if there has been a change.
- If you change to a different visa status, please inform ISS so that your records can be updated.
- If you terminate your OPT early, please inform ISS so that your records can be updated.
- You will probably be required to pay federal, state and local taxes. For more information, please contact the Internal Revenue Service.
Travel on OPT
You may travel while on OPT. However, please keep in mind that you are still in F-1 status and that you will need the following in order to re-enter the U.S.:
- A valid travel signature on your most current I-20 (within 5 months of re-entry)
- Your unexpired EAD or I-797 receipt notice
- A letter from your employer indicating that you currently hold a job in your field of study and will be returning to the U.S. to resume employment
- A valid passport
- A valid F-1 visa
After completing your 17-month STEM OPT Extension
- If an H-1B application is pending or approved for your H-1B cap-subject employer, you may continue your employment until your employment start date (October 1 of the following fiscal year) or until your application is denied. You will need an updated I-20 from IES to prove your work authorization during this period.
- You are entitled to a 60-day grace period beyond the last day of training as indicated on your EAD. You may not work during your 60-day grace period. You will need to notify IES if you plan to begin another course of study another program after your OPT.