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24-Month STEM Extension

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Content: STEM Eligibility Requirements | Timing & When to Apply | Submit to USCIS | Employment & Reporting Requirements | Eligibility for a Second Period of STEM OPT After Higher Degree | Eligibility Based on Previously Obtained STEM Degree

F-1 students who are currently authorized for OPT employment based on completion of a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) field may be eligible for a 24-month extension to their post-completion OPT period for a maximum duration of 36-months

STEM Eligibility Requirements:

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To the student:  

  • Be on a period of standard post-completion OPT

  • Hold a degree in a field of study – as noted on the I-20 – which qualifies as STEM eligible according to the official STEM Designated Degree Program List 

  • Be employed or have a job offer from an employer enrolled in E-Verify

  • Demonstrate the job is directly related to a STEM field

  • Prepare & sign the Training Plan (Form I-983)

  • Apply prior to the end of your current post-completion OPT period

    • NOTE – you may apply up to 90 days prior to your current OPT end date

To the Employer:

Timing & When to Apply

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The application must be submitted at least 1-month prior to the end of your current Post-Completion OPT. This application must be received to USCIS before the expiration of the current OPT period. Your STEM application can be submitted up to 90 days prior to the end of your current OPT period.

Those with a timely filed STEM OPT application will be have automatic continued work authorization while the STEM application is pending. This work authorization will expire if the application is denied or withdrawn or for 180 days beyond the expiration of your current Post-Completion OPT, whichever comes first. STEM application will follow normal processing times with USCIS.

The Basic Steps of the STEM OPT application are:

  • Prepare the STEM OPT materials with your employer

  • Email  STEM OPT materials to CU ISSS – where you will obtain a new I-20 recommending the STEM OPT)

  • Mail STEM application to USCIS

  • STEM application is receipted and sent for adjudication

What to prepare and email to CU ISSS – this is to review your extension request and process a SEVIS STEM recommendation I-20

  • CU ISSS STEM Extension Request Form – this will collect the information needed to recommend your STEM extension. Please be sure to complete a statement of how your work is related to the field in with you received your degree

  • Copy of completed Form I-765 -

  • Form I-983 Training Plan – this is a new requirement of the 24-month extension. The purpose is to ensure students continue a rigorous training program that builds on the skills obtained as a full-time student. The student and supervisor must agree on the components of the plan as follows – both the ‘student’ and supervisor must signed this form before submitting to CU ISSS for review;

    • The role of the ‘student’ in the work place

    • The goals & objectives of the proposed training

    • How the employer will provide oversight of the plan – and –

    • What set of measures and assessments will be used

Application Materials to Prepare  to mail to USCISall forms can be found at www.clarkson.edu/internationalcenter  

  • Form I-765Type this form

    • Tips

      • Check – ‘Permission to accept employment’ – this is not a renewal application

      • U.S. Mailing Address – you may use your current residential address – if you use your own address please be sure to send to the correct USCIS Lockbox Location that has jurisdiction over your residence and that the address will be valid for at least 4-months. You may use CU ISSS address for this application process. (c/o ISSS – PO Box 5651 – Potsdam, NY 13699-5651)

      • #10 – enter your Form I-94 number here – retrieve your elctronic I-94 at CBP

      • #11 - enter the last USCIS authorization applied for (likely this was your post-OPT)

      • #16 – enter your eligibility category – C – 3 – C

      • #17  - enter your Degree – Employer Name – and – Employer’s E-Verify Number

        • Note – you will obtain your employer’s e-verify number from either your Payroll or Human Resources office

      • Signature – Don’t forget to sign in blue or black ink

  • Form G-1145 – only recommended – the purpose of this form is to request electronic notification when USCIS accepts your application

  • Photographs – include two (2) U.S. passport photos – please be sure these are current photos within the last six months and according to U.S passport photo requirements. Failure to provide correct photos could delay your application.

  • Check or money order – made payable to US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) for $380

  • Copies of…

    • Your SEVIS STEM Extension I-20 (do not send the original)

      • NOTE – you will receive your STEM I-20 in the mail once processed by ISSS

    • Visa/Passport

    • Front & back of I-94 – OR – copy of your electronic I-94 page

    • Copy of current EAD card – and – any previously authorized OPT (if applicable)

    • All previously issued I-20’s – specific attention to any I-20 with CPT/OPT recommendations

    • Your most recent degree that shows your degree name – date awarded – and – field of study

      • NOTE – this can be your diploma – or – an official transcript

      • NOTE – the field of study shown must be on the approved list of STEM fields of study (ISSO will verify this for you)

Submit to USCIS

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Once you receive your new OPT I-20 from CU ISSS – you are ready to mail your application USCIS. Arrange your application in the suggested order shown above – using a paperclip to secure all items.

  • Send your application visa certified mail with a return receipt or tracking number

  • Your application must be received within 60 days of the issuance of your STEM I-20

  • USCIS Dallas Lockbox - Mail to USCIS Dallas Lockbox only if your return address is; 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 –

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

  • USCIS Phoenix Lockbox – Mail to USCIS Phoenix only if your return address is; 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

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

  • Check the progress of your application at www.uscis.gov using your receipt notice you will receive 5-7 days after it is accepted at the lockbox location. Note – if you have used the CU ISSS address we will email you the receipt notice.

  • Please provide CU ISSS a copy of your approval notice – once received (only if you are not using CU ISSS address)


Employment & Reporting Requirements

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Employment Notes:

  • Employment must be paid

  • Employment must be at least 20 hours per week

  • Employment must be directly related to your course of study

  • Limitation on unemployment during the STEM extension – student approved for the 24-month STEM extension may not accrue more than a total of 150 days of unemployment throughout their entire 36-months on OPT. Time spent out of the U.S. will count toward the 150-day period of unemployment – unless – the travel is a period of authorized leave approved by your employer; or – the travel is for the employer. To count as ‘employed’ a student should be able to provide evidence – acquired from the employer – that verifies he or she worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of reported employment.

  • Unemployment Caution: SEVIS records will automatically terminate for students who have no employment reported for 150 consecutive days. Be sure you have reported any and all employment to CU ISSO.

Reporting Requirements: All reporting forms will be emailed to cuisso@clarkson.edu using the OPT updates/request form

  • Self-evaluations: Student must submit self-evaluations via Form I-983 during the first 12 months on STEM extension – and – at the completion of the 24-month extension period, or at the conclusion of employment – whichever comes first. Evaluations should be submitted within 10 days of the required date.

  • Students & employers must report to CU ISSS a change in any of the following via Form I-983

    • Employer name & address

    • Decrease in compensation

    • Reduction in hours worked to less than 20 hours a week

    • Employers EIN

    • Termination of employment

  • Students are required to report to CU ISSS within 10 days, any change in the following;

    • Legal name

    • Residential address

    • Employer name & address

    • Change in status of current employment – including loss of employment – change of status to H-1B – transfer to a new F-1 program – or – change in employers. Note – if you change employers – you and your employer will need to complete a new I-983 and submit to CU ISSS

  • Students are required to report to CU ISSS every 6-months a validation report – regardless if there is a change or not. Use the OPT Updates/Requests form

  • You are strongly encouraged to keep records of your employment history for your personal file. This information can be used as evidence of maintaining lawful status should you apply for future immigration benefits.


Eligibility for a Second Period of STEM OPT After Higher Degree

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You may be eligible for a second period of 24-month STEM OPT – if you enroll in a new academic program and earn another qualifying degree in a STEM major. All eligibility noted above applies.

Eligibility Based on a Previously Obtained STEM Degree

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Students currently on post-completion OPT that is not identified as STEM eligible that has previously earned a STEM eligible degree from an accredited U.S. higher education institution may be eligible for a STEM extension under certain conditions:

  • Have received both degrees from currently accredited & SEVP-certified institutions

  • The STEM degree earned was conferred within the last 10 years at the time of application

  • Your previous degree is assigned a STEM eligible code found on the STEM Designated Degree List at the time of application

  • You haven’t already received a STEM OPT extension based on this previous degree

  • Your employer meets the criteria listed above