STEM OPT Extension

The 24-month STEM OPT Extension is available to students with designated STEM degrees, who are completing Post-completion OPT and want to extend their employment with a qualified employer.

Basic rules and restrictions

  • Must have a STEM designated degree.
  • Must have employment with an E-Verified employer.
  • Must be working more than 20 hours/week.
  • Must report participation every six months during the STEM OPT Extension.

Application Timeline

  • Eligible to apply 90 days before your Post-completion OPT end date.
  • Request an OPT recommendation (a new I-20). The OPT request takes roughly 3 – 5 days.
  • Use your OPT recommendation to file an I-765 (using category C3C) with USCIS.
  • Receiving approval from USCIS takes roughly 90 days.
    • As long as you file on time, your Post-completion OPT will be automatically extended by 6 months to cover any processing delay.
  • After receiving approval, you will be sent an Employment Authorization Document via USPS. This can take 1 – 2 weeks.

What is a STEM designated degree?

Each program of study at UWB is connected to a Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code & Title. You can see your program’s CIP code & Title on page 1 of your I-20. The Department of Homeland Security provides a list of all CIP codes & titles they have designated as STEM programs. Your program (as printed on your I-20) must be a match to one from this list.

Eligible employment

  • Employment must be full-time with an E-Verified employer, offering training in your field of study, who has completed Form I-983 with you.

Ineligible Employment

  • Volunteer/unpaid positions
  • Self-employment
  • Any work that is not related to your STEM major.
  • Any work that is not listed on your I-983 Training Plan.
  • Employment through a third party, such as a staff or temp agency, is still a gray area. The employer that signs the Form I-983 must be the same entity that provides the practical training experience to the student. Thus, we advise to be cautious when accepting this employment during STEM OPT period.

Informational links for employers

Study in the States offers resources for employers. These are the currently offered pages


See our STEM OPT application page for details on every step of the application.

Requirements & FAQ

See our STEM OPT Requirements & FAQ page for everything you must know while on Pre-completion OPT.