F-1 STEM OPT

STEM OPT Updates

  • The final 24-month STEM OPT rule was published in the Federal Register on March 11, 2016.
  • The new 24-month STEM OPT rule is effective Tuesday, May 10, 2016
  • 17-month STEM OPT Extension rule ended on May 9, 2016. Students can no longer apply for this.
  • USCIS updated STEM OPT employer requirements and responsibilities on their webpage. Read the USCIS webpage for more information.

STEM OPT Deadline

Apply 90 days before the end of your 12-month post-completion OPT. USCIS must RECEIVE your 24-month STEM OPT application on or before your current 12-month OPT expiration date. This office needs sufficient time to process your application. The response time is 10 business days or more for each submission. We urge you and your employer to follow the Form I-983 Instructions and Sample line by line to complete the form. Incomplete Form I-983 will be returned and re-submission takes another 10 business days to process.

Do not wait until the last moment to apply, otherwise you will lose the chance to apply for STEM OPT.

STEM OPT Resources

Attention students and employers. Do the research early so that you are well informed! Visit and find the latest information at the STEM OPT Hub.

Before applying, watch the STEM OPT Extesion Video.

Administrative Fee Alert

Effective April 1, 2017, an administrative fee of $200 will be charged to students who apply for 24-month STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Resources and Helpful Links

Check this link to see all STEM fields qualifying an F-1 student for a STEM OPT extension:

DHS’s STEM Designated Degree Program List

All fields of study in the core STEM areas of engineering, biological sciences, mathematics, and physical sciences are included.  The list is similar to the previous list under the 17-month STEM OPT extension.

Eligible F-1 students with STEM degrees who finish their program of study and participate in an initial period of regular, post-completion OPT (often for 12 months) have the option to apply for a STEM OPT extension.

The STEM OPT extension is a 24-month period of temporary training that directly relates to an F-1 student’s program of study in an approved STEM field, and effectively replaces the 17-month STEM OPT extension previously available to certain STEM students.

For change of employment during 24-month STEM OPT, you need to provide both Form I-983 with the new employer and final evaluation with the previous employer (the one you have ended employment with or are ending employment with). Please submit all required documents through 24-month STEM OPT Form by selecting

When changing employers, students should NOT update their employment themselves in SEVP Portal. Please complete a final evaluation with the previous employer and a new I-983 with new employer and submit via webforms (Select 24-month STEM OPT Change of Employment Form) so the DSO could update your SEVIS record.

Final Evaluation:

  • Only submit pg. 5 of Form I-983.
  • Only complete the BOTTOM section titled “Final Evaluation on Student Progress.”
  • Include name of PREVIOUS employer within your response on pg. 5 of Form I-983.
  • Start date should be your first day with the PREVIOUS employer for whom you are completing the evaluation while on 24 month STEM OPT.
  • End date should be your last day with the PREVIOUS employer while on 24 month STEM OPT.
  • The response should be completed by you.
  • It should be signed by you and your PREVIOUS employer.

New I-983 with new employer:  Please note the “Start date of Employment” on the form must be the start date with the NEW employer, not your 24-month STEM OPT start date as shown on your EAD. Use the sample to help you complete this form accurately. Click here for I-983 sample. 

This is due EVERY 6 months. You must report 10 days prior to the 6-month validation report due date. 

For example, your 24-month STEM OPT covers a period from 06/11/2019 to 6/10/2021, your six-month validation report due dates are as follows:

1st 6-month Validation Report due date: 12/11/2019
Report to IC on 12/01/2019

2nd 6-month Validation Report due date: 06/11/2020
Report to IC on 06/01/2020

3rd 6-month Validation Report due date: 12/11/2020
Report to IC on 12/01/2020

4th 6-month Validation Report due date: 06/10/2021
Report to IC on 05/31/2021

To report, click here and select 6-month Validation Report. 

 

No, they are not the same. You must complete 6-month Validation Report every six months during your 24-month STEM OPT period. In addition, you must complete 12-month and 24-month evaluations.  

12-month Evaluation must include:

  • Only submit pg. 5 of Form I-983.
  • Only complete the TOP section titled “Evaluation on Student Progress.”
  • Include name of employer within your response on pg. 5 of Form I-983.
  • Start date should be first day with CURRENT employer while on STEM OPT.
  • End date should be 12 months from start date.
  • The response should be completed by you.
  • It should be signed by you and your current employer.

24-month evaluation must include:

  • Only submit pg. 5 of Form I-983.
  • Only complete the BOTTOM section titled “Final Evaluation on Student Progress.”
  • Include name of employer within your response on pg. 5 of Form I-983.
  • Start date should be your first day with CURRENT employer while on 24 month STEM OPT.
  • End date should be your last day with CURRENT employer while on 24 month STEM OPT.
  • The response should be completed by you.
  • It should be signed by you and your current employer

To report 12-month and 24-month evaluations, please click here and select 24-month STEM OPT Form and then Evaluation Form. 

 

STEM OPT Eligibility

To qualify for the 24-month STEM OPT extension, an F-1 student must:

  • Hold a bachelor’s degree or higher degree in an eligible STEM field from University of Bridgeport
  • Have an E-verify employer. Find out if your employer is E-verified
  • Currently be working in a period of post-completion OPT
  • Have not exceeded 90-day unemployment limit for your current post-completion OPT
  • Be able to fill out the Form I-983 Training Plan with your employer
  • Employment during the 24-month STEM OPT extension must be directly related to your STEM degree which qualify you for the extension
  • Must be a paid position
  • Cannot be self-employed
  • Must work a minimum of 20 hours per week
  • Have not previously received the 24-month STEM OPT extension under the STEM degree
  • For STEM OPT extension based on a prior degree, please visit the Department of Homeland Security's Study in the States, link provided to the left

You must also ensure the following: 

  • Zero balance with the University of Bridgeport Bursar
  • No holds on your student account
  • OPT employment and address must be updated via portal before you apply for OPT extension if you have started employment with this employer

Application Deadline

  • You can apply 90 days prior to the end of your post completion OPT
  • USCIS must receive your OPT extension application NO LATER THAN the expiration of your current post-completion OPT
  • If you applied for STEM OPT with USCIS before your current OPT expires, you can continue to work while your STEM OPT application is pending until a final decision is made on your application or it has been pending 180 days, whichever comes first

Passport Validity

  • Passport must be valid and has a validity period of at least 6 months into the future prior to filing for OPT extension
  • If your passport is valid for less than 6 months, please apply for renewal at your consulate before filing for OPT

How to Apply for STEM OPT

Verify Your Eligibility

Step 1. Review the conditions of eligibility.

Read through the eligibility list to ensure that you meet the criteria for STEM OPT. Also ensure you will meet the application deadline and passport requirements.

Pay Your STEM OPT Fee

Step 2. Pay the $200 STEM OPT extension administrative fee to the UB Bursar by calling (203) 576-4568.

Please specify it is for the STEM OPT extension fee when you call.

Submit Application

Step 3. Submit all required documents through 24-month STEM OPT Form

*Please note the Form I-765 is for record keeping only. We do not review the form. It is your responsibility to make sure it is filled out correctly. If you need assistance, you can review the I-765 instructions as shown below in the Application Checklist.*

If the Form I-983 satisfies the requirements, an I-20 to recommend STEM OPT extension will be issued to you.

*Please note the Form I-983 is reviewed for completeness only. It is your responsibility as well as your employer’s to make sure the form is filled out correctly.*

Submit Documents to USCIS

Step 4. Gather documents and mail them to USCIS.

Once you get the I-20, follow the instructions attached to your I-20 and compile all documents to mail to USCIS.

Application Checklist

SEVIS School Code:  BOS214F10145000
STEM OPT Requested Period:
From: the date immediately following your current OPT end date
To: the end date of the 24-months extension

North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Code Search

  • Copy of U.B. diploma
  • Copy of U.B. transcript (optional)
  • Copy of ALL I-20 forms (no need to copy instruction page; all I-20s must be signed);
  • Copy of electronic I-94. Copy of I-94 card (front and back) if you have a paper I-94 card. Stamp must be clearly legible.
  • Copy of passport: information page with expiration date and stamp of first entry into the U.S. in F1 status
  • Copy of F-1 visa
  • Signed Student Statement