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OPT STEM Extension

Students with qualifying Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) majors may be eligible to extend the initial period of Optional Practical Training (OPT).

 F-1 students with degrees in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) may qualify for a 24-month extension of their post-completion OPT employment authorization. The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) allows F-1 students to be granted up to two 24-month STEM extensions in their lifetime.  OPT students should review the information and resources listed below in order to understand both student and employer eligibility and on-going responsibilities for STEM OPT.

ELIGIbility for 24-MONTH STEM OPT Extension 

Students currently in their initial 12-month, post-completion OPT period (the year immediately following graduation from DePauw) must meet the following conditions in order to be eligible for the 24-month OPT STEM extension:

  • Have maintained valid F-1 Student status during undergraduate and OPT periods (meeting requirements for employment, reporting updates, immigration documents, etc.);
  • Have an offer of employment (or continued employment) from an E-Verify participating employer;
  • Notify ISS staff of intent to apply for the OPT STEM extension as soon as possible after the first six months of OPT; submit
  • Submit STEM OPT Application package at least three weeks before final day of the initial 12-month OPT period to allow adequate processing time.

Documents REQUIRED BY DEPAUW ISS TO ISSUE NEW I-20 FOR APPLICATION

The following documents must be received by ISS staff three weeks prior to the application deadline. Documents can be scanned and sent by email or sent in hard copy by mail. Upon review and approval, ISS will issue a new I-20 with a recommendation for a 24 month OPT STEM extension and send it via FedEx.

  • Form G-1145 E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance
  • Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization 
  • Form I-983 Training Plan for STEM OPT Students (requires advance preparation with employer)
  • Letter offering continued employment from a qualifying employer (must participate in E-Verify system) 
  • Two identical 2”x 2” passport photos (with name and I-94 number written on the back) 
  • Photocopy of all current/prior I-20 Certificates of Eligibility 
  • I-20s, advisor forms and employment letters for all periods of Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorized during the undergraduate program
  • Current I-94 Departure Record and travel history 
  • Photocopy of current passport’s expiration/photo/signature page(s). Passport must be valid throughout the full OPT period.
  • Photocopy of all US visas issued for F-1 Student status
  • Front-and-back copy of state driver’s license or state identification card (recommended, not required)
  • Photocopy of DePauw diploma & transcript, documenting degree earned in qualifying STEM field

Requirements for F-1 Students during 24-month OPT STEM extension period

The OPT STEM Extension period is an extension of the undergraduate academic program. In order to remain in the United States and continue working, students must continue to maintain valid F-1 student status throughout the OPT period.  This entails:

  • Keeping the passport valid at all times (at least six months' validity);
  • Reporting all changes of employment, residence and contact information to International Student Services (ISS) within 10 days through the OPT Updates online form.
  • Submitting the first Student Program Evaluation on Student Progress at the end of the first year of the OPT STEM extension period.
  • Submitting the final Student Program Evaluation at the end of the 24-month OPT STEM extension period.
  • Submitting a new, updated Form I-983 if there are any "material changes" or deviations from the position description and responsibilities outlined in the I-983 used to apply for the OPT STEM extension; 
  • Engaging in a minimum of 20 hours per week of qualifying practical training activities,
  • Working only in positions related to the qualifying major field of study,
  • Accepting compensation only for employment that is directly related to the major field of study; and
  • Reporting termination of employment for any reason within ten days of the termination.

Requirements for Employers of F-1 Students during 24-month OPT STEM extension 

Companies and organizations employing F-1 Students during their 24-month period of OPT STEM extension period are must comply with the following requirements. See the US Department of Homeland Security's Employers: STEM OPT Reporting Requirements webpage for additional information.

  • Work with the F-1 employee to complete and certify the I-983 Training Plan, to be submitted with the I-765 application;
  • At the end of the first year of the F-1 employee's OPT STEM extension period, complete the Evaluation on Student Progress (part of the Form I-983). The F-1 employee is required to submit the completed evaluation to DePauw University.
  • At the end of the F-1 employee's 24-month OPT STEM extension period, complete the final Evaluation on Student Progress (part of the Form I-983). The F-1 employee is required to submit the completed evaluation to DePauw University. 
  • If there are any "material changes" or deviations from the position outlined in the original I-983 Training Plan, work with the F-1 employee to complete a new, updated Form I-983 Training Plan. The F-1 Employee is required to submit the updated Form I-983 Training Plan to DePauw University.
  • If the F-1 employee is terminated for any reason, report the termination of employment to DePauw University's International Student Services office at iss@depauw.edu. The F-1 employee is also required to report termination of employment during the 24-month OPT STEM extension period.

OPT STEM Extension Resources

Study in the States Overview and Tutorial for Form I-983 Training Plan for STEM OPT Students

Study in the States web site: STEM OPT Help Hub

SEVP STEM Extension Overview (including list of eligible fields of study)

Instructions for Completing Form I-983 Training Plan for STEM OPT Students