OPT STEM Extension Information
This page will give you lots of basic information about the OPT Application Process. If you cannot find the answer to your question, you can send an email GA-ISS2@saumag,edu.
OPT STEM Extension Eligibility
– Have earned a degree in a field included on the U.S. Government’s list of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields within the last 10 years.
– Be applying for OPT STEM Extension no more than 3 months before your 12-month OPT expires and no later than the expiration of your 12-month OPT.
– Be employed in a job directly related to their field of study.
– Have a job offer from an employer with a valid E-verify number.
When Should I Apply for OPT STEM Extension?
How to Apply for STEM OPT Extension
To begin your application click on the button below. It is highly recommended that you read through the rest of this website to learn more about the application process, how to mail your application, and further regulations concerning STEM OPT Extension.
DO NOT OPEN MORE THAN ONE APPLICATION. DOING SO WILL DELAY YOUR APPLICATION.
See below on how to get back into your incomplete application
Log into the Portal by selecting “I have a SAUMAG Username and password”. See the next question below for further instructions.
Use your SAU login information to log into the application
- Select “I have SAUMAG username and password”
- Username: SAU email without the “@mulerider.saumag.edu” email address (ex jmmartisek1234), Password: Your SAU password
- Select “Request, 20XX” (pick the year your OPT Extension will begin)
- You will be taken to your STEM OPT Extension Request Application page.
You do not need to click the application button again to log back into the application. To get to your application log into the student profile page
Once on the profile page, you will see your incomplete application listed on the left-hand side of the page.
There are number steps in the OPT application process:
- Login to the OPT application portal.
- Fill out the Questionnaires
- Upload all the documents listed under the Attach Document section
You can follow these instructions on how to complete your I-765:
You can follow these instructions on how to complete your I-983:
Please note: This is also the start date that you enter in Section 3 on your I983 form.
If you question if this is correct you may visit the SEVP I-983 Overview page and review their instructions which states the above instructions.
Our office will review your application and make corrections if necessary. After the review process, we will then issue a recommendation I-20.
The review process can take up to 7 business days. Make sure you plan for this processing time.
Sending your Documents to USCIS
Once you have received your I20, you need to prepare your OPT STEM Extension application package. You do not need to staple your documents together.
• G-1145 Form Attach this from to the front of your application. This will allow you to receive email and text notifications about the status of your application.
• I-765 Application – Make sure you sign and date it
• Required I-765 fee of $410, payable to “US Department of Homeland Security” by
bank check, money order or personal check. Write “USCIS I-765” in the memo line of
the check or money order. Please note that a money order is more difficult to track
than a check, but faster to process than a check.
• Two passport type photos taken within 30 days of filing the application that meet the requirements on the Department of State website. Write your name and I-94 number lightly on the back of each photo.
• Copy of your I-94.
• Photocopy of the identification page(s) of your passport, including photo and expiration date.
• Photocopy of your current visa.
• Copy of your recommendation I-20 (signed)- DO NOT SEND ORIGINAL!
• Photocopy of student data pages of all your previous I-20s. DO NOT SEND ORIGINALS!
• Photocopy of your previous EAD card (both sides).
• Proof of STEM Degree: Final Transcript (Preferred) or Photocopy of your diploma
showing the major and degree level that makes you eligible for the STEM Extension.
• Letter of Employment from Employer on letterhead
• If you have previously had another OPT STEM Extension at another degree level, include a copy of your previous STEM I-20 and EAD.
After applying for OPT STEM Extension
• You will be unable to reenter the US after your 12 month OPT end date unless you have your new EAD card.
• Someone will need to have access to your mail to ensure you do not miss any correspondence from USCIS.
• If you fail to respond to a Request for Evidence your application will be denied.
• If your OPT STEM Extension application is denied you can have problems reentering the US, even if your current EAD card is still valid.
It is highly advised that you orginally apply for STEM OPT with the employer that you wish to work with while on your OPT STEM Estention. Trying to change your employer’s information while applying for OPT causes delays with your application which means it will take much longer for you to receive your EAD card.
If an unforeseen occasion occurs and you need to change employers while applying for your extension you will need to follow these steps:
- Submit a new Employer Update with the following documents for your new employer:
- Employment offer letter
- Write a letter addressed to USCIS stating:
- Include your name, SEVIS ID number, and I-767 receipt number from your original application
- The change from Employer A to Employer B, include employers’ names and addresses
- The dates of ending employment at Employer A and the start date at Employer B
- The reason for the change.
- Make sure to sign and date the letter.
- Mail the following to the same USCIS Office you mailed your original application to:
- Letter to USCIS.
- Updated copy of your STEM OPT I-20.
- Signed I-765.
If you misplace your EAD card or it is stolen, you will need to submit a new application to USCIS. It could take up to 3 months to replace a lost or stolen EAD card. The following documents are required:
- Form I-765 (Mark that you are applying for a replacement card)
- $410 check or money order payable to “Department of Homeland Security”
- Copy of I-20 signed within the past 30 days
- Copies of your ID page of passport, visa, and I-94
- 2 passport-size photos
- Copies of any previously issued EAD cards
- Form G-1145 (optional). Attach if you would like to receive receipt information by text or email.
Reporting Requirements for OPT STEM Extension
post-completion OPT period of authorization within 10 days of any changes:
• Your phone and email address
• Employer’s name or address
• Job Title(s)
• Explanation of how your job(s) relates to your field of study at SAU
• Start and/or end dates of employment
• Any periods of unemployment
• Date of exiting the U.S. (You must provide date of exit if you decide to exit the U.S and complete your OPT status prior to the end date of your OPT)
• If your visa status changes while on OPT
- Submit an OPT Employment Update form with the new employer’s information. The link is below.
- This will require a new I-983 form.
- Ensure your previous employer provides written proof of termination date (See Loss of Employment)
Students on OPT 24 Month STEM must also submit a “OPT Extension Validation Report” every 6 months starting from the date the extension starts and ending when the student’s F-1 status ends or the extension ends, whichever is first.
Please follow the link below to submit the validation reports/ evaluations:
the student’s formal training plan. These include:
- Any change of the employer’s EIN number, resulting from a change in the employer’s ownership or structure.
- 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.
Please follow the link below to submit a new I983 form outlining any of the above changes:
Employers play a key role in maintaining and strengthening the integrity of the STEM OPT Extension program. Although compliance with the program’s various reporting requirements predominately apply to students and DSOs, there are instances where STEM OPT employers must assist in tracking the STEM OPT students and their practical training progress.
Complete and Certify the Form I-983
The STEM OPT employer must work with the student to complete the Form I-983 and designate an Official with Signatory Authority to certify that information in the document is true and correct. The form is not complete until the employer has signed and certified it in the designated areas.
Evaluation on Student Progress
The STEM OPT employer must review the student’s annual self-evaluation on their own progress and sign it to attest to its accuracy.
Material Changes to an Existing Form I-983
Employers must work with the STEM OPT student to report to the DSO any material changes to, or material deviations from, the student’s formal training plan, by filling out a new Form I-983.
Loss of Employment
If your employment is terminated for any reason, your employer is required to notify ISS within 5 days. You must inform your employer of the reporting requirements at the end of your employment. Ask them to email ISS at email@example.com with the following text in the subject line of the email: “OPT Employment Termination.” Your name, your SEVIS ID number and the start and end date of the STEM employment must be included in the email message.
Employment and Periods of Unemployment
– You must ensure that your job is closely related to your STEM degree program.
– Volunteer/Unpaid positions and self-employment are NOT supported by the 24- Month OPT STEM Extension.
– Students can work for multiple employers at one time. All jobs must be related to the student’s field of study.
– You can work at a client location.
– Students can start their own business in a field closely related to their degree program. Students must be able to prove that they work at least 20 hours per week and that they have the appropriate licenses to establish a new business.
• If a student travels while employed either during a period of leave authorized by an employer or as part of their employment, the time spent outside the United States will not count as unemployment.
Insurance while on OPT
You will not be eligible for the same insurance plan you had while you were a student, but Lewermark provides different private options for previous students. Please follow the link below to learn more about insurance options through Lewermark: