OPT STEM Extension

Criteria for Eligibility

USCIS website on the updates to STEM OPT.

If you are an F1 student currently on OPT, and you have received a Bachelor's, Master's or PhD degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics) field, and your current employer is enrolled in "E-Verify", then you may apply for an extension of the regular 12 month OPT period.  You must have already recieved and be on the first 12 months of OPT, and be within 3 months of the end date, in order to apply for the STEM extension.  The STEM OPT extension will be granted for 24 months. If you get another qualifying STEM degree at a higher degree level, you will be able to apply for the STEM extension a second time after the regular 12 months of OPT for the new higher degree level.

Procedures to Apply

The application for the STEM OPT extension requires all the same photos, fee, and copies of documents that the first OPT applicaion required.  For details of the required documents, read the OPT application packet here.  In addition, before the ISSO can recommend the STEM OPT extension and give you an updated I-20,  you must have provided a "training plan" to the Cornell Designated School Official (ISSO advisor).  Once you have completed the training plan with your employer, email a scan of the completed I-983 training plan AND a scan of the completed STEM OPT I-20 request form by email to isso@cornell.edu. If you are a Cornell Tech student, then email a scan of the completed I-983 training plan AND a scan of the completed STEM OPT I-20 request form by email to sarah.abdelnour@cornell.edu.  We will create the new I-20 for you within three business days. After you receive the new I-20 from the ISSO with the STEM OPT recommendation, you will have to send a complete OPT application to the appropriate USCIS office with all the documents you sent the first time you applied for OPT.  For details, read the OPT application packet here

  • Documents to send with the application

    1. Form I-765 (which you will download from uscis.gov) (follow instructions on pages 2-3)
    2. A copy of page 1 and page 2 of the new I-20 that the ISSO advisor gives you with the recommendation for STEM OPT on page 2.
    3. A print out of your US Admission Record from https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov OR copy of your I-94 card
    4. A copy of photo page (identification page) of your passport with passport expiration date.
    5. A copy of the F1 visa page of your passport (even if expired) (Canadians won’t have this).
    6. A copy of ALL previous I-20s that have been issued to you for your current degree program (if you do not have these, check with the ISSO advisor to get copies.)
    7. A copy of your previous OPT card or other work card (EAD) if you have had one
    8. Two NEW passport type photographs from within the last 30 days (See attached sample). You may not use photos that you previously used for a visa interview or a passport.  Print your name and US Admission Record number (from the I-94 record) lightly in pencil on the back of each photo. Put the photos in an envelope and attach it to front of I-765. DO NOT CUT THE PHOTOS!
    9. Fee of $410 (check the USCIS web page for I-765 forms to check the correct fee). Checks may be made payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. You may send a money order or a personal check drawn on a US bank, NO CASH. Attach the check to the front of the I-765.

  • Where to file your STEM extension

    If you live in: 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.

    Then mail your application to the "Phoenix lockbox" here:
    USCIS Phoenix Lockbox
    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

    if you live in: 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

    Then mail your application to the "Dallas lockbox" here:

    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

Information on the new STEM regulation

If you are currently on the first 12 months of your OPT and are eligible for the STEM extension, apply as detailed above. As soon as your STEM OPT application is RECEIVED by the immigration service, your current OPT work authorization is automatically extended for 180 days while the application is processed.  

STEM (science, technology, engineering, or mathematics) fields

The major field names listed on your F1 I-20 are NOT the department or major field names we have at Cornell. The names of the fields we are required by law to use on your I-20 are based on the "CIP" (Classification of Instructional Programs) codes identified by the US Federal Government. These codes are specific to how our degrees are accredited and we cannot change them.

Fields that qualify for the STEM OPT extension

Relevant Links