What is the $200 OIS STEM OPT Extension Administration Fee?

Students requesting a STEM OPT Extension I-20 from OIS will be required to pay a non-refundable $200 fee. This fee supports OIS services related to DHS reporting requirements and maintenance of status throughout the period of request and STEM OPT Extension employment. Extended services provided to STEM OPT Extension students include I-20 travel endorsements, review and processing of mandated reports, and continued access to advisors for questions pertaining to their F-1 status and STEM OPT Extension employment matters.

What are the requirements for STEM OPT Extension eligibility based on a prior degree?

Refer to the STEM OPT Extension Based on a Prior Degree section of the OIS website for information on eligibility requirements as well as application instructions.

What are common, avoidable reasons for STEM OPT Extension rejections or denials?

Reason 1: USCIS received Form I-765 STEM OPT Extension application after OPT EAD end date. If USCIS receives the student’s STEM OPT Extension application after their OPT EAD end, their STEM OPT Extension application will be denied.

Note: USCIS will also deny any application received more than 60 days after the Issued Date on Page 1 of the STEM OPT Extension I-20, even if an application is submitted before the OPT EAD end date

Reason 2: Missing or invalid student signatures on I-20s. Students must sign I-20s by hand in black ink; USCIS does not accept typed or electronic student signatures on I-20s

If a student’s application is returned or rejected for any reason, or if they receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) or denial notice, the student must contact OIS immediately before responding to USCIS.

What U.S. mailing address should student use on the Form I-765?

OIS recommends students use a mailing address they can reliably retrieve mail from for up to 6 months after graduation – this may require using a friend or relative’s address.

Students are strongly advised not to change their mailing address while their OPT application is pending with USCIS, since this can cause delays with processing and receiving the EAD in a timely manner.

Refer to the Guide to Filing Form I-765 for STEM OPT Extension. USPS does not forward mail from USCIS, even if a student has signed up for mail forwarding. If the EAD is undeliverable due to a change in address, the EAD will be returned to USCIS – the student will not be notified if this happens.

How do students report a change of address to USCIS and OIS if they move while their STEM OPT Extension application is pending?

Students must notify USCIS by completing the online USCIS Change of Address form. They must also notify OIS by updating their address using the STEM OPT Employment, I-983, or Address/Supervisor Change eForm in Trojan International. 

Does USCIS accept students’ electronic signatures on I-20s?

No. Students must provide a wet signature (i.e., in ink) on their I-20s. A student’s typed or electronic signature on an I-20 will not be accepted.

Can a student remain in the U.S. if their application is pending?

Yes. Students that have filed a timely STEM OPT application can remain in the U.S. while their OPT application is pending with USCIS.

Can students file a STEM OPT Extension application with USCIS when they are abroad?

No, students must be present in the U.S. at the time of the STEM OPT Extension application submission. Otherwise, the STEM OPT Extension will be denied.

Can students with a pending STEM OPT Extension application continue working?

Students who file a timely application with USCIS may continue working after their post-completion OPT EAD expires until they receive the final decision from USCIS on the application (i.e., approved or denied) or for 180 days, whichever comes first.

Can students travel while their STEM OPT Extension is pending and after it is approved? If so, what documents do the students need?

Travel document requirements while STEM OPT Extension is pending and/or approved are on the travel section of the OIS website.

Can students cancel their STEM OPT Extension after it has been approved?

STEM OPT Extension cannot be cancelled after it is approved, but students may choose to forfeit their STEM OPT Extension. Students who wish to forfeit their STEM OPT Extension and return to their home country must notify OIS and submit a Form I-983 Final Self-Evaluation via Trojan International so that their SEVIS record can be completed. Refer to the STEM OPT Extension Reporting Requirements for further guidance.

Failure to report departure information to OIS can result in the automatic termination of their SEVIS record as a result of accruing more than 90/150 days of unemployment, which could negatively impact future U.S. visa applications.

Can students enroll in classes while on STEM OPT Extension?

Per USCIS regulations, students cannot be enrolled in a certificate or degree-seeking (in-person or online) program while on STEM OPT Extension. Students may only take classes that are avocational or recreational in nature and are incidental to their employment.

Can students work remotely on STEM OPT Extension?

Yes, students may work remotely in another state within the United States. They must report their remote address as their employer’s onsite address and continue to comply with all STEM OPT Reporting Requirements.

Can students work for more than one employer while on STEM OPT Extension?

Yes, however, the student must file a Form I-983 for each employer. In addition, each employer must meet all eligibility requirements, including working at least 20 hours per week.

What do students who change from STEM OPT Extension to H1B need to report to OIS?

Students must submit their Form I-983 with a completed final self-evaluation via Trojan International. Refer to the STEM OPT Extension Reporting Requirements for further guidance.

What are students’ options after STEM OPT Extension ends?

Students are allowed to remain in the U.S. for up to 60 days after the approved STEM OPT Extension end date printed on their EAD. This period of time is called a “grace period”. During this time, students may not work and cannot leave and re-enter the U.S. as F-1 students. During their 60-day grace period, students can:

  • Begin a new degree program at USC- Students must apply to the new program, be admitted, and be issued a Change of Education Level Form I-20 from USC Office of Graduate Admission
  • Transfer SEVIS record to another school- Student must submit a SEVIS Transfer Out Request Form to OIS
  • Change visa status- USCIS must receive and approve the application to change the immigration status before the end of the grace period
  • Depart the U.S.

There’s a mistake on my EAD due to USCIS Error. What should I do?

If your EAD contains an error due to a mistake made by USCIS, you will not be required to file a new Form I-765 or pay the application filing fee.  To request replacement EAD due to a USCIS error, follow these steps:

  • STEP 1 – Optional
    • Request a reprint of your I-20 showing your STEM OPT Extension is approved by submitting an I-20 Reprint Request.
  • STEP 2
    • Make a photocopy of the incorrect EAD – you must keep a copy on file for your personal records
    • Assemble the following documents:
      • The original card containing the error
      • A detailed letter of explanation of the card error, and
      • Copy of most recently issued STEM OPT Extension I-20
      • Supporting documentation on the correct information (e.g., copy of passport bio page)
  • STEP 3
    • Mail your request to the center that processed your STEM OPT Extension application and make sure you get a tracking number. Check the USCIS website for the most up to date addresses.
  • USCIS will process your EAD replacement request within about 30 days.
  • *** A student who applied for STEM OPT Extension via premium processing and received an incorrect EAD due to a USCIS error, please email psc-premium.processing@uscis.dhs.gov, explain the situation, and attach a scan copy of your EAD with the error for further guidance from USCIS***

My EAD got lost or stolen. What should I do?

  • If your EAD has been lost, stolen, or damaged, you will need to pay the $410* fee again and submit an application for a replacement EAD with USCIS.  To file for a replacement EAD, follow these steps:
    • STEP 1
      • Request for a reprint of your I-20 showing your STEM OPT Extension is approved by submitting an I-20 Reprint Request.
    • STEP 2
      • Submit a new Form I-765 online to USCIS, following the Guide to Filing Form I-765 with USCIS noting the following changes:
        • What is your reason for applying? Select “Replacement of lost, stolen, or damaged employment authorization document”. 
        • Have you previously filed Form I-765? Select “Yes”.
        • Include: Copy of most recently issued STEM OPT Extension I-20, copy of I-797 STEM OPT Extension Approval Notice, and (if you have it) a copy of your STEM OPT Extension EAD
        • You will be required to pay the $470 fee again
  • USCIS will process your EAD replacement request within about three months.