Who Can Apply for STEM OPT?
The Department of Homeland Security has pre-selected specific STEM fields that are eligible to apply for the STEM OPT extension. At UW Bothell, if you studied in one of these majors, you are eligible:
School of Business:
- Business : Supply Chain Management concentration
School of IAS:
- Environmental Science
- Environmental Studies
School of STEM:
- Applied Computing
- Climate Science & Policy
- Computer Engineering
- Computing & Software Engineering
- Cyber Security Engineering
- Electrical Engineering
- Interactive Media Design
- Mechanical Engineering
How to Apply for STEM OPT
Get started here - we include resources and an application checklist for you and your employer.
STEM OPT : For your Employer
Visit here for official resources for employees and employers. There is also a letter to your employer included in our STEM OPT application packet.
STEM OPT Employment Update/Validity Form
Students on STEM OPT Extension must use this online form to report any changes to their employment or mailing address. The form will also be used to complete the required validity reports.
SEVP Portal Account
Starting in April 2018, students on OPT and STEM OPT will be able to create an online SEVP Portal Account. Using this account, students will be able to directly information immigration about their employment and local address.
If the access link has expired, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can reset it for you.
Requirements While on STEM OPT
The following are requirements set by the Department of Homeland Security on what you must do while you are working during the OPT STEM extension period. The Center for International Education is here to collect the required information and documents, so that it is provided to immigration on your and employer’s behalf. If you do not do this with CIE, then immigration will determine that you are not following the regulations and you could risk losing your OPT STEM extension authorization.
1. Report the following changes to CIE within 10 days of happening
You must submit this change in information to CIE through the STEM OPT Update & Validity:
- Change in your residential address (where you live)
- Change in employment *remember, you are only authorized to be unemployed during the STEM OPT period for a total of 60 days. A change in employment will also require a new Form I-983 Training Plan.
- Loss of employment
2. Submit a Validity Report every 6 months
You must email the CIE office (email@example.com) to confirm the following information of your current STEM OPT employment:
- Your full legal first and last name
- Current residential address (where you are living)
- Business name and mailing address of the current employer
- Your employer’s E-Verify number
- Date you began working for the current employer
3. Updated Form I-983 Training Plan (Within 10 days of any changes)
An updated I-983 is required to do with your employer and submit to the CIE office within 10 days of:
- Changing employers
- Any time there is a “material” change in the terms and conditions of the original I-983. These include, but not limited to, the following:
- Change to the employer’s EIN
- Any reduction in compensation from the amount previously stated on the form, which 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
- Any decrease in hours below the 20 hours per week minimum requirement
4. Self-Evaluation Report 1 (Within 12 months of the STEM OPT start date)
You must complete two self-evaluations during the course of your OPT STEM extension period. The evaluation must be signed by you and your immediate supervisor, and then submitted to the CIE office at firstname.lastname@example.org. The self-evaluation is the “Evaluation of Student Progress” portion of your Form I-983.
5. Self-Evaluation Report 2 (At the end of the STEM OPT)
You must complete two self-evaluations during the course of your OPT STEM extension period. The evaluation must be signed by you and your immediate supervisor, and then submitted to the CIE office at email@example.com . The self-evaluation is the “Evaluation of Student Progress” portion of your Form I-983.
Frequently Asked Questions
What jobs CAN’T I do while on STEM OPT extension?
- Volunteer/unpaid positions
What jobs CAN I do while on STEM OPT extension?
What if I don’t have a job for the entire OPT STEM extension work authorization – how many days of unemployment am I allowed during the extension period?
You are allowed a total of 60 days of unemployment during your OPT STEM extension. This is in addition to the 90 days of unemployment that you are allowed during your initial 12-months of OPT work authorization.
How can I purchase health insurance while on STEM OPT?
Although not required by your visa, CIE strong encourages you to make every effort to be insured during your entire stay in the U.S., including grace periods and while authorized on Optional Practical Training. If you do not receive health insurance through your OPT employer, you can consider private insurance providers listed under "Other Insurance Plans" at https://iss.washington.edu/health-insurance . These companies specialize in working with international students, and some have special coverage options for students on OPT (such as ISO Insurance).
Can I Study While on STEM OPT extension?
Yes, but you may only take recreational courses. If you begin a new degree program, your current OPT authorization is automatically terminated when the I-20 is updated and/or transferred to the new school.
My F-1 visa expired – can I apply for a new visa?
Yes; however, know that it is OK for you to remain in the U.S. with an expired F1 visa. The only time that you will be required to have a valid F1 visa is if you are re-entering the U.S. after traveling outside the country.
To apply for a new F1 visa, you should follow the direction of the specific U.S. Consulate where you plan to apply for the visa. Some additional documents that they may ask you to bring is your 12-month OPT EAD card, your 24-month OPT STEM extension card, document verifying your employer, updated I-20 from CIE office showing your current employment/valid travel signature.
What happens after my STEM OPT extension expires?
You have a 60-day grace period after your OPT end date. The OPT end date is indicated on your EAD card. You must take one of the following actions during your grace period:
- Depart the United States.
- If you have received admission to a new degree program, you will need to initiate the SEVIS transfer with CIE so that your I-20 can be sent to your new school.
- If you have received admissions to a new degree program at UWB, you will need to talk with CIE so that we can update your I-20 accordingly.
- Change to another type of non-immigration/immigration status to remain lawfully in the United States. Typically, students will work with their employer for the H1-B work visa sponsorship. Some students have also changed to other statuses, such as applying for a green card after getting married, etc.