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

When can you begin applying for 24-month STEM OPT?

Apply 90 days before the end of your 12-month post-completion OPT - refer to the end date on your EAD card. 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.

Administrative Fee Alert

Effective March 1, 2020, an administrative fee of $250 will be charged to students who apply for 24-month STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT).

FAQs

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.

To qualify for the STEM OPT extension, an F-1 student must hold a bachelor’s degree or a higher degree in an eligible STEM field from an SEVP-certified school that is accredited (by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education) at the time the student submits their STEM OPT extension application to USCIS. A student must pursue their practical training through an employer that is enrolled in USCIS E-Verify employment eligibility verification program and can guarantee the student will complete a minimum of 20 hours of work per week and provide the student with formal training and learning objectives.

Check this link to see all STEM fields qualifying an F-1 student for a STEM OPT extensionDHS’s STEM Designated Degree Program List

 

If you are currently on 24 month STEM OPT, report the following via webforms:

  1. Submit 24 Month OPT EAD Card/Notices once you receive them.
  2. Submit 6/12/18/24 Month Validation Report and 12/24 Month Evaluation – 6 month validation report is due EVERY 6 months. Link to report in SEVIS is only available for a limited time. Check your SEVP Portal for deadlines.
  3. Submit 24-month STEM OPT Employment Update Form –  DO NOT UPDATE EMPLOYMENT IN SEVP PORTAL! Submit a new Form I-983 whenever ANYTHING reported on the Form changes (Ex: employer, job title, supervisor, client site/physical work location, employer location, etc.). If employer changes, also provide a final evaluation completed with the previous employer.

Students should NOT update their employment themselves in SEVP Portal. Form I-983 submitted via Webforms is reviewed by DSO and updated in SEVIS record.

Reporting update with same employer: Provide an updated Form I-983 via 24-month STEM OPT Employment Update Form. The final evaluation is not needed if you are working with the same employer but need to make employment update(s). Please note on updated Form I-983 with same employer:

  • Page 2: The start date would be the first date of the reported change.
  • Pg. 5: Include this page and leave blank.

Reporting change of employer: Provide an updated Form I-983 with the new employer and a final evaluation with the previous employer via 24-month STEM OPT Employment Update Form.

Final Evaluation:

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

Please note on updated Form I-983 with new employer:

  • Page 2: The start date would be the first date with the new employer.
  • Pg. 5: Include this page and leave blank.

Click here for sample Form I-983.

6 Month Validation Report is a reporting requirement for students on 24 month STEM OPT. It is due EVERY 6 months. You must report 10 days prior to the 6-month validation report due date. 

To report, click here and select the .

For example, if your 24-month STEM OPT covers a period from 06/11/2019 to 6/10/2021, then 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 with 12-month Evaluation

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 with 24-month Evaluation

To report 12-month and 24 month evaluations, please click here and select The requirement for final evaluation is the same as 24-month evaluation.

12-month Evaluation must include:

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

24-month/final evaluation must include:

  • Only submit pg. 5 of Form I-983.
  • Only complete the BOTTOM section titled “Final Evaluation on Student Progress.”
  • Include the name of the employer within your response on pg. 5 of Form I-983.
  • The start date should be your first day with the CURRENT employer while on 24 month STEM OPT.
  • The end date should be your last day with the 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

 

Email your H-1 approval notice to opt@bridgeport.edu with your full name and UB ID included. Report The requirement for final evaluation is the same as 24-month evaluation.

24-month/final evaluation must include:

  • Only submit pg. 5 of Form I-983.
  • Only complete the BOTTOM section titled “Final Evaluation on Student Progress.”
  • Include the name of the employer within your response on pg. 5 of Form I-983.
  • The start date should be your first day with the CURRENT employer while on 24 month STEM OPT.
  • The end date should be your last day with the 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

 

STEM OPT Eligibility

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

  • Hold a bachelor's degree or a higher degree from an SEVP-certified school that is accredited (by an accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education) at the time the student submits their STEM OPT extension application to USCIS. Your degree obtained from the University of Bridgeport satisfies this immigration requirement.
  • 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 and contact International Center.

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 for at least 6 months into the future prior to filing for OPT extension
  • If your passport has expired or is valid for less than 6 months, please apply for renewal at your consulate before filing for OPT

How to Apply for 24 Month 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 $250 STEM OPT extension administrative fee to the UB Bursar.

Please call 203-576-4568 or email sfs@bridgeport.edu and specify that it is for the STEM OPT extension fee. Payments will not be taken over the phone but once you contact Student Financial Services, they will add the STEM OPT charge to your account so you could pay the fee online through your UB Portal.

Submit Application

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

  1. Form I-983 - refer to sample! 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.
  2. Form I-765 - 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.
  3. Front and back for 12-month OPT EAD card
  4. 24-month STEM OPT Student Statement - must read before signing!

Once your Webform has been approved, an I-20 would be issued to recommend 24-month STEM OPT extension. Please select the I-20 Delivery Method as "I will pick it up" since your I-20 would be emailed to you. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, SEVP is allowing DSOs to electronically sign and email I-20. Once you receive your I-20, please print, sign it, and keep this I-20 with all other I-20s you have.

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.

USCIS often changes its mailing address. Please check the website to ensure you're sending your documents to the correct address. Please review the Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-765 page to see where you should file your application.

Application Checklist

  • I-765 completed fully and signed in BLUE ink (original).  24-Month I-765 Instructions
  • Copy all previous EADs
  • Two passport style color photos with name, date of birth and SEVIS ID printed in pencil on the back. See example
  • $410 filing fee (You must visit USCIS website at https://www.uscis.gov/i-765 to make sure the fee is current and correct at the time of filing your application to USCIS.), make a check or money order payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”.  Date on check must be current!!. (Sample check)
  • Form I-983 Training Plan (Please download and save the form as a Word document to allow sufficient space when filling it out.) |Form I-983 instructions Form I-983 Sample
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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