24-Month OPT Extension

Eligible F-1 nonimmigrant students with STEM degrees may apply for a 24-month STEM OPT extension. Interested F-1 students must first apply for and receive an I-20 requesting the extension, and then apply for and receive the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Student Eligibility

  • F-1 students with a STEM degree who have been granted 12 months of post-completion OPT may apply for a 24-month extension of their period of practical training
  • The STEM degree must be awarded by an accredited U.S. college or university
  • The extension may be based upon your most recent STEM degree or upon a STEM degree that was conferred within the 10 years preceding the date the ISSO issues your STEM Extension I-20 (If you are applying based on a previous degree, you must meet additional eligibility criteria).
  • You may apply for the extension based upon a dual degree program or double major as long as one of the programs is STEM eligible.
  • The student may be eligible for up to two 24-month extensions based upon two separate STEM degrees at different educational levels moving up.

Application Process

  • Step 1: Apply for the UT Dallas STEM OPT Extension I-20.
    1. Pay the $100 Practical Training Fee
    2. Submit to the International Student Services Office (ISSO):
      • STEM OPT Request Form
      • Completed Form I-765
      • Completed Form I-983 (*NEW* view the I-983 Sample Video)
      • Current EAD card
      • Transcripts (if applying based on STEM degree granted prior to the most current degree. If you have a BS and an MS degree, and are applying based on the BS)
      • Previous I-20(s) (if applying based on STEM degree granted prior to the most current degree)
    3. Once your application has been processed, you will be sent an email that the STEM OPT I-20 is ready for pickup. Your application packet from ISSO will include:
      • STEM OPT Extension I-20
      • Corrected I-765 copy, only if there were corrections to the I-765 copy you submitted for review. (if there were no corrections, then you will not receive a corrected copy)
      • Letter confirming that if your file your STEM OPT application before the deadline, you may continue working for up to 180 while your application is pending.
      • Application assembly and mailing instructions
  • Step 2: Apply for the STEM OPT Extension Work Authorization.
    1. Compile the application, make a copy for your personal file and mail the application to USCIS.
      • Form G-1145 (Optional). Authorizes USCIS to send you application processing updates via email/text. If this is desired, paperclip completed form on top of application packet>
      • Original Form I-765.
      • 2 U.S. size passport photos. No Glasses Allowed. Lightly write name and I-94 number on back of each photo. Attach photos to top, left corner of Form I-765 (a plastic bag is supplied for your convenience)
      • $410 check or money order. Make payable to “Department of Homeland Security,” write I-94 number at top. Staple check midway down the left edge of Form I-765. Print I-94 number at top of check or money order
      • Copy of OPT Extension I-20. Pages 1 and 2. I-20 must be less than 60 days old, signed by you and an ISSO advisor
      • Copy of passport ID page. Showing picture and expiration date.
      • Copy of I-94. Front and back or electronic I-94 print out
      • Copy of F-1 visa. Most recently issued visa, valid or expired or I-797 F-1 approval notice.
      • Copies of any former OPT EADs
      • Copy of diploma. Related to this period of STEM OPT, or UT Dallas official or unofficial transcript showing degree conferred
      • Copy of your job offer letter, or other proof of current employment.
    2. USCIS must receive your application before your period of initial OPT ends.
    3. If you are in a period of post completion OPT your authorization will extend up to 180 days past the OPT expiration date while the extension application is pending. However, during that time you must meet the job requirements of the extension, such as working for an E-Verify employer.
    4. If approved, an OPT extension Employment Authorization Document (EAD) will be mailed to the address listed on the submitted I-765 showing 24  months of OPT.

Reporting Requirements

In order to maintain your F-1 status while you are on STEM OPT, you must regularly check in with the ISSO to validate your information in SEVIS and report changes. There are several reporting obligations:

  1. Validating SEVIS Information:

    Every six months submit the OPT STEM Reporting Form, select “Validation Report” in Section C. Submit your validation up to 15 days before due date and up to 31 days after due date. The due date is exactly 6, 12, and18 months from the start date of your STEM OPT EAD authorization.

  2. Annual Self Evaluation:

    Submit an annual self-evaluation in the I-983 to report about the progress of your STEM OPT Training experience

  3. Material Changes to your Existing Form I-983:

    Report to ISSO any material changes to, or material deviations from, your I-983 training plan by submitting a modified I-983. These include, but are not limited to:

    • Any change of the employer’s EIN.
    • Any reduction in student compensation that is not tied to a reduction in hours worked.
    • Any significant decrease in hours per week that a student engages in a STEM training opportunity.
    • Changes to the employer’s commitments or student’s learning objectives as documented on the Form I-983
  4. Report changes to your name or address:

    For changes in your name or residential address submit an OPT STEM Reporting Form.

  5. Report changes to your employer or employment:

    If you are reporting changes to your employer/employment including:

    • Moving from unemployment to employment or from employment to unemployment
    • Ending employment at end of EAD authorization.
    • Changing employers

Submit both the OPT STEM Reporting Form and the I-983 (for both previous and new employer as needed). Report changes in your employment status to the ISSO within 10 days of the change.

Unemployment Limit

  • Students on the 24-month STEM OPT extension are able to access unused days of employment from the initial OPT period plus an additional 60 days of unemployment for a maximum period of 150 days of unemployment.