Updated 05/16/2024

Graduates currently on post-completion OPT may be eligible for a 24-month extension of their work authorization if they have earned a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in an eligible STEM field, as designated by USCIS. The STEM OPT Extension allows graduates the opportunity to gain an additional 24-months of work experience, resulting in up to 36-months of total work eligibility in the United States following graduation from USC.

All STEM OPT Extension applications are adjudicated (i.e. processed and approved) by USCIS. Successful filing of a STEM OPT Extension application will result in the issuance of an EAD valid for an additional 24-months following post-completion OPT, during which graduates are able to legally work in the United States in positions directly related to their STEM majors.

Students who are interested in applying for the STEM OPT Extension are required to read the STEM OPT Extension Instructions below.

Please Note: Processing time for all STEM OPT Extension related requests is 10 business days. Incorrect and/or incomplete requests will require resubmission and the 10-business day processing time will restart upon resubmission.


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STEM OPT Extension Instructions

Click here for OIS STEM OPT Extension Instructions (PDF)

The STEM OPT Extension Instructions cover eligibility and employment requirements, submission deadlines, reporting requirements, and other frequently asked questions (FAQs).

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Request STEM OPT Extension I-20 in Trojan International

(click to access the STEM OPT Extension I-20 Request)

When to submit:

Students can request their STEM OPT I-20 as early as 90-days prior to their Post-completion OPT EAD end date. USCIS requires students to submit Form I-765 and other supporting documents to USCIS online via myUSCIS within 60 days of the date OIS recommended the STEM OPT Extension in SEVIS. USCIS must receive the STEM OPT Extension application before student’s post-completion OPT EAD expiration date.

How processed I-20s will be sent to students: 

Processed STEM OPT Extension I-20s will be signed and emailed to students by OIS Designated School Officials (DSOs). Students must print their I-20s and sign their name in ink. USCIS does not allow students to sign the I-20 electronically.

SEVP, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the Department of State (DoS) have confirmed they accept I-20s electronically signed by DSOs. Only DSOs may electronically sign I-20s; students may not electronically sign any documents submitted to USCIS.

Reprints and travel signatures:
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Sample I-983 for USC Graduates

Click here for Sample I-983 for USC Graduates

In order for OIS to recommend graduates for the STEM OPT Extension and issue an I-20, all students must submit a Form I-983 Training Plan. When completing the I-983 Training Plan, refer to this sample for guidance. Additional information can be found in the STEM OPT Extension Instructions or on the Study in the States website.

As of September 18, 2023, USCIS now accepts wet signatures, e-signatures (using software programs or applications), or electronically reproduced signatures; typed signatures are NOT permitted.

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Filing Form I-765 with USCIS

Click Here for the Guide to Filing Online Form I-765 for STEM OPT Extension

After receiving the STEM OPT Extension I-20 from OIS, students must submit the Form I-765 and supporting application documents to USCIS online via a myUSCIS account.  Refer to the Guide to Filing Online Form I-765 for required documents and submission instructions.

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STEM OPT Extension Employment Reporting Requirements

Validate Information Every Six Months in Trojan International

Immigration regulations require students on STEM OPT Extension to validate their personal and employment information with their Designated School Official (DSO) every six months. Validation reports must be submitted to OIS DSOs in Trojan International. OIS will then record the submission in SEVIS.

When are the reports due?

Validation Reports are due every 6 months during the 24-month period. Use the STEM OPT Extension Reporting Tool for USC Graduates to check submission deadlines for each Validation Report. Ensure Validation Reports are submitted accurately and on time. Validation Reports can be submitted up to 30 days before the report due date.

Does OIS accept early or late submissions?

Reports can be submitted to OIS via Trojan International up to 30 days before the reporting due date. Late submissions will be accepted, but OIS will be unable to record the submission in SEVIS. Missing reporting deadlines may negatively affect the student’s F-1 status.

How do students submit their report to OIS?

Submit the appropriate validation report in Trojan International:

6-months after STEM EAD Start Date
 Submit  Form: STEM OPT Extension 6-Month Validation Report
  • Enter STEM OPT EAD start and end dates, major, and employer information
12-months after STEM EAD Start Date
Submit Form: STEM OPT Extension 12-Month I-983 Self-Evaluation Report
  • Enter STEM OPT EAD start and end dates, major, and employer information
  • Upload copy of Form I-983 (all 5 pages) with signed self-evaluation in top section of Page 5 – refer to the Sample I-983 and use the Reporting Tool
18-months after STEM EAD Start Date
Submit Form: STEM OPT Extension 18-Month Validation Report
  • Enter STEM OPT EAD start and end dates, major, and employer information
STEM EAD End Date
Submit Form: STEM OPT Extension Final I-983 Self-Evaluation Report
  • Enter STEM OPT EAD start and end dates, major, and employer information
  • Upload copy of Form I-983 (all 5 pages) with signed final self-evaluation in bottom section of Page 5 – refer to the Sample I-983 and use the Reporting Tool

STEM OPT Extension Report Changes to Employment

Report Changes to Employment

Immigration regulations also require changes to STEM OPT employment to be reported to OIS, before or within 10 days of the change. All changes should be submitted in Trojan International. Changes that require reporting include:

Changing employers

Submit form: STEM OPT Employment, I-983, or Address/Supervisor Change

Loss of employment

Submit form: STEM OPT Extension Final I-983 Self-Evaluation Report
  • Enter STEM OPT EAD start and end dates, major, and employer information
  • Upload copy of Form I-983 (all 5 pages) with signed final self-evaluation in bottom section of Page 5 – refer to the Sample I-983 and use the Reporting Tool

Material changes, as defined by DHS, made to the Form I-983 Training Plan

Submit Form: STEM OPT Employment, I-983, or Address/Supervisor Change

Early end of STEM OPT Extension due to change of visa status (e.g., to H1B), SEVIS transfer out, or F-1 status forfeiture

Submit Form: STEM OPT Extension Final I-983 Self-Evaluation Report
  • Enter STEM OPT EAD start and end dates, major, and employer information
  • Upload copy of Form I-983 (all 5 pages) with signed final self-evaluation in bottom section of Page 5 – refer to the Sample I-983 and use the Reporting Tool

Students who are changing their status to H1B: Must submit the Final Self-Evaluation at least 15 days before the H1B becomes effective.

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OIS Advising and Contact Information

Do you have any questions after reviewing the above information? OIS can provide assistance via email or an advising session.

OIS Live: OIS Advisors are available for one-on-one consultation Mondays through Fridays via Zoom. Refer to the OIS Live schedule for advising hours and Zoom meeting link. No appointment necessary.

OIS Group Advising and Webinars: OIS offers group advising sessions covering topics such as STEM OPT Extension via Zoom.  Refer to the OIS eCalendar  for upcoming sessions.

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