24-Month OPT Extension

As of May 15, 2020, the ISSO will no longer receive government mail for students from USCIS or the Social Security Administration. If the ISSO has already received documents for you, you may request to receive them by mail - utdallas.edu/isso/expmail/. After May 15, 2020, government mail sent to the ISSO on behalf of a student may be returned to sender.

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 $300 Practical Training Fee
    2. Submit to the International Student Services Office (ISSO):
    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
      • I-765 with comments from ISSO advisor. Do not send this copy to USCIS. It is for your information only.
      • 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)
      • $550 filing fee: Effective October 2, 2020, the filing fee will increase from $410 to $550. Any applications sent on or after October 2 must include the new fee. Payable by check, money order or Form G-1450 (for credit card). No starter checks. Must have name and address printed on check. Write your I-94 number at the top of the check/money order. Enter purchaser’s address and signature on Money Order. Can have a different address than I-765. Make payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
      • 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 and include your current employment information and current residential address. Submit your validation within 10 days of due date. The due date is exactly 6, 12, and 18 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:
    • Option #1: OPT Reporting Form

      For changes in your name or residential address submit an OPT STEM Reporting Form via email or in person to the UT Dallas ISSO. The ISSO will report your changes to Homeland Security.

    • Option #2: SEVP Portal and OPT STEM Reporting Form

      You may report some changes to SEVIS via the SEVP Portal. Updating the SEVIS Portal does not eliminate the need for you to report to ISSO. To meet your reporting obligations, you must also complete and submit an OPT STEM Reporting Formindicating that you have made updates in the SEVP Portal. You may also request ISSO to print an updated I-20 for you via the 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.

SEVP Portal

Effective March 23, 2018, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is launching a portal that will help SEVIS Active F-1 alumni on Post Completion OPT and STEM OPT meet some immigration reporting requirements. The SEVP Portal shares information with the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), but does not give you direct access to SEVIS. The SEVP Portal also does NOT remove the need for F-1 alumni to report changes to the ISSO. Please see the ISSO SEVP Reporting webpage for detailed information about the SEVP Portal.