OPT-STEM Extension

You must be in valid F-1 status and currently working on post-completion OPT. Your degree must be in an eligible STEM field. You must have a paid job offer that meets the following requirements: 

  • The job is with an employer enrolled in the E-Verify program 
  • The job offers at least 20 hours of work per week 
  • The job will provide formal training and learning objectives directly related to your qualifying STEM degree as OPT STEM Extension is an F-1 student benefit 
  • Be able to complete the I-983 Training Plan with your employer.  

Employment requirements during the 24-month STEM Extension 

You must work at least 20 hours each week for an employer that participates in the E-Verify program and agrees to follow all the employer requirements in the 24-month STEM rule.  

Unlike the 12 month OPT, volunteer/unpaid work or self-employment is not permitted under the 24 month OPT STEM Extension regulation.  

Please review the STEM OPT HUB for the most up-to-date information on the STEM Extension requirements.  

NOTICE: STEM OPT Extension and Staffing/Temporary Agencies

While being employed by a staffing/temporary agency is allowed for Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), there are different guidelines for students applying for the STEM OPT Extension. If you are currently on Post-Completion OPT, employed by a staffing/temporary agency and applying for the STEM OPT Extension, please make sure you read through the following article from the Department of Homeland Security Study in the States website.

“If a student uses a temporary or staffing agency to place them in a training opportunity, the agency cannot complete and sign the Form I-983, Training Plan for STEM OPT Students. Only the E-verified employer that provides the actual training relevant to the student’s qualifying STEM degree is authorized to sign and complete the Form I-983."

In addition- there is more information regarding “The Employer’s Training Obligation: Staffing and Temporary Agency” on the USCIS website.

OPT STEM Extension Application Procedures  

STEP ONE: After verifying that you are eligible to apply for STEM OPT Extension, gather your supporting evidence that must be uploaded to your online Form I-765 application under the “Evidence” section. See the list below:

1.       1 passport-style photograph, in color.

2.       Copy of valid passport page

3.       Copy of visa

4.       Copy of I-94 record (https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home

5.       Copy of current, unexpired EAD card (front & back) 

6.       Copy of your MNSU diploma

7.       Copy of transcripts issued by MNSU indicating the date of graduation and level of the degree conferred (unofficial transcripts are acceptable)

Please note: your NEW I-20 stating your STEM OPT Extension has been requested will be given after a KIC advisor receives your completed Form I-983 and reviews your online Form I-765 application.


STEP TWO: Start completing the Form I-983 Training Plan with your employer. Below are several resources to assist with completing this form.

·         Form I-983 Training Plan (SEE EXAMPLE HERE)

·         Form I-983 instructions 

Please note: this form does NOT get uploaded to your online Form I-765 application, but it is a document that the Kearney Center will need have on file before processing your new STEM OPT Extension I-20.

STEP THREE: Follow the Filing I-765 Online instructions to create a NEW USCIS online account and begin your STEM OPT Extension application.

Please note: Do NOT pay and submit your online Form I-765 application until you have reviewed your application with a KIC Advisor and received your updated I-20.

STEP FOUR: Before submitting your I-765, you will need to meet with your Kearney Center Advisor to review your application. Schedule a meeting with a KIC Advisor via MavConnect. During the meeting, you will share your screen with a KIC advisor so that the advisor can confirm your application has been completed correctly.

STEP FIVE: After reviewing your online OPT application with a KIC advisor, digitally sign and submit your application. Next, pay the filing fee ($410) using a credit card, debit card, or withdrawal from a checking or savings account. See Steps 6, 7, and 8 in the Filing I-765 Form Online for complete instructions.