STEM EXTENSION OPT
Following post-completion OPT, some F-1 students are eligible for a two-year STEM OPT extension. In order to apply for and receive the STEM OPT extension, an F-1 student must:
- have earned a STEM-eligible degree
- be in the approved period of standard post-completion OPT (EAD card still valid)
- have appropriate paid employment for at least 20 hours per week from a U.S. employer/training site enrolled in E-Verify
- create and update a personal training plan regularly (Form I-983)
F-1 students are eligible for a maximum of two lifetime STEM OPT extensions, provided the second STEM extension is for a higher degree level than the first STEM extension.
STEM-ELIGIBLE DEGREES AT PRATT
Architecture BArch (04.0902)
Architecture MArch (04.0902)
Architecture MLA (04.0902)
Architecture MS (04.0902)
Construction Management BPS, BS (04.0902)
Data Analytics and Visualization MS (11.0301)
Digital Arts BFA (10.0304)
Digital Arts MFA (10.0304)
Facilities Management MS (04.0902)
Information Experience Design MS (11.0104)
Library and Information Science MS (11.0401)
Museums and Digital Culture MS (11.0401)
Packaging, Identities, and Systems Design MS (15.1503)
Sustainable Environmental Systems MS (30.3301)
Urban Design MS (04.0902)
HOW TO APPLY FOR STEM EXTENSION OPT
Unlike post-completion OPT, the STEM extension requires that you have an offer of paid training from an E-Verified employer at the time of application. The employer will need to complete an official Training Plan called I-983 with you, which will then require updating every six months.
Like post-completion OPT, the STEM extension application process has two parts:
- First, submit your application, including the I-983 Training Plan, in PDF format to OIA@pratt.edu to get your STEM extension recommendation I-20.
- Second, submit your I-765 application to USCIS, including STEM OPT I-20, in order to be granted a new EAD card for the two-year extension.
Part 1: Apply to OIA for a STEM OPT I-20
In order for OIA to issue you a STEM extension recommendation I-20, please email us the following as a single combined PDF to OIA@pratt.edu.
- Completed Form I-983 Training Plan
- Maintaining F-1 Status Form
- Front of your OPT EAD card
- Most recent I-94 record
If you are STEM-eligible based on a different degree than the one you just earned, you also need to show proof of that degree.
OIA does not accept incomplete parts of an application in multiple attachments and/or emails. Within ten business days, OIA will email your new I-20 with the STEM OPT recommendation on page 2.
Part 2: Apply to USCIS with online I-765
USCIS must receive your application within 30 days of your STEM OPT I-20 being issued, and no later than the end date of your approved post-completion OPT.
After your STEM extension recommendation I-20 has been issued by OIA, you must apply to USCIS for the EAD card, using the I-765. You can now e-file the I-765 application online, which we recommend. You will need:
- STEM OPT recommendation I-20 from OIA
- credit/debit card to pay the I-765 application fee ($410 USD)
- a recent passport photo (not the same one used for your EAD, passport, or visa)
- any previous CPT or OPT I-20s
- most recent I-94 record
- passport biographical page
Select “STEM Extension” as your eligibility category and follow the instructions carefully. You do not need to submit the I-983 Training Plan to USCIS, that is always submitted to OIA. You do not need an accreditation letter if you completed your STEM degree at Pratt.
TRANSITION FROM OPT TO STEM EXTENSION
USCIS must receive your I-765 application before the end of your post-completion OPT. At the end of your EAD card, you should stop any paid or unpaid work activity that is not on your I-983 Training Plan and does not meet STEM eligibility requirements.
It is your responsibility to apply in a timely manner and ensure that USCIS receives your properly filed STEM extension I-765 application before your OPT end date.
If you have filed properly and the application has been accepted by USCIS, you can keep working for up to 180 days while waiting for USCIS to approve the STEM extension. You may only work for the e-Verified employer listed on your I-983. Throughout the duration of STEM OPT, you may only work for employers/training sites that meet STEM eligibility requirements and the I-983 must be submitted and updated for each.
STEM EXTENSION REPORTING TO OIA
Alumni on the STEM extension have heavy reporting requirements from ICE in order to maintain status throughout the two-year period. Every six months (four times) you must report to OIA with specific information, as well as submit periodic I-983 evaluations from your employer. Reporting this information is time-sensitive.
SEVP sends an automated email reminder 30 days before the 6, 12, 18, and 24-month marks of your STEM OPT. In the window of time before the mark, you must confirm to OIA that your STEM information in SEVIS is accurate. We strongly recommend you put these dates on your own calendar and not rely on the SEVP emails, as they sometimes go to spam or are not sent correctly.
No earlier than 30 days before your 6, 12, 18, and 24-month marks, and no later than 10 days before the marks, please send the following information to OIA@pratt.edu. Please make your subject line “STEM reporting” and include your Pratt ID and your SEVIS ID.
- your passport name
- your US address and phone number
- status of your employment (whether you are unemployed)
- employer name
- employer address
This specific information needs to be included in your email to OIA for our DSO verification, even if you’ve given the same information on your last report. Unfortunately, we cannot accept your blanket confirmation that the information in the SEVP Portal is correct.
At the 12 and 24-month marks, you also need to submit the I-983 Training Plan with the above information to OIA. For the 12-month mark, your supervisor needs to complete the “Evaluation of Student Progress” section on page 5. For the 24-month mark, your supervisor needs to complete the “Final Evaluation of Student Progress” on page 5.
An OIA DSO is required to “validate your participation” in your SEVIS record within the ten days following your 6, 12, 18, and 24-month marks. Please plan ahead and submit your required information to OIA between 30 days and 10 days before your reporting marks.
TIMELINE FOR STEM REPORTING REQUIREMENTS TO OIA
Application for STEM OPT I-20
- submit I-983 with page 5 left blank
6-month mark of approved two years of STEM OPT
- submit personal and employer information only
12-month mark of approved two years of STEM OPT
- submit personal and employer information
- I-983 with page 5 “Evaluation” filled out and signed
18-month mark of approved two years of STEM OPT
- submit personal and employer information only
24-month mark of approved two years of STEM OPT
- submit personal and employer information,
- I-983 with page 5 “Final Evaluation” filled out and signed
ADDITIONAL REPORTING REQUIREMENTS
As with post-completion OPT, you are still required to update changes to your personal information (current and permanent addresses, phone numbers, biographical information, etc) through your SEVP Portal within ten days of any change.
If there is something that you cannot change in the Portal yourself, but needs to be updated, email OIA@pratt.edu and specify the update you need.
If your employer changes, you must submit an out-of-cycle report to OIA with a new/updated I-983 within ten days. Remember all employers
At the end of the EAD card for STEM OPT, your employment authorization ends and you have a 60 day grace period to depart your F-1 status. You do need to submit the final I-983 to correctly end your STEM OPT status.
If you end your STEM extension training early, you must also submit the Final Evaluation I-983 and notify OIA via email. This includes if you receive a change of status approval to another visa type.
CHANGING EMPLOYER DURING STEM OPT
Remember any employer needs to be in E-Verify and a new I-983 needs to be submitted for any changes in employment within ten days of that change. Pllease send the complete information listed below to OIA@pratt.edu.
- I-983 for your old job, with page 5 “Final Evaluation” completed and signed
- end date of employment for your old job
- new I-983 for your new job with page 5 left blank
- new employer’s E-Verify number
If your I-765 for STEM OPT is still pending when you are changing employers, no further action is required other than submitting the above to OIA. We will take the step to notify USCIS on your behalf via your SEVIS record.
UNEMPLOYMENT CLOCK ON STEM OPT
ICE permits an additional 60 days of unemployment during STEM OPT. If you did not use the full 90 days of unemployment during your post-completion OPT, you also have that time remaining. For example, if you had 45 days of unemployment during regular OPT, you will have 45 + 60 = 105 days of unemployment possible during the two years of STEM OPT.
OTHER CHANGES REQUIRING A NEW I-983
- any change of the employer’s IRS Federal Tax ID number called Employer Identification Number (EIN) resulting from a change in the employer’s ownership or structure, such as a corporate restructuring
- any reduction in your compensation that is not tied to a reduction in hours worked
- significant decrease in the number of hours of work per week from the I-983
- a decrease in hours of work that would reduce the student’s total hours with that employer to less than 20 hours per week
- changes to the employer’s commitments or student’s learning objectives as documented on the Form I-983
- change in employment training site.
If any of the above circumstances apply to you, you need to submit a new I-983 to OIA@pratt.edu within ten days of the change. If you have any doubts whether you need to submit a new I-983 due to some change, we generally recommend submitting a new I-983 to be on the safe side.
AT THE END OF STEM OPT
Upon the end date of your STEM OPT EAD card, you no longer have employment authorization under STEM OPT. You have a sixty-day grace period, in which you are eligible to:
- depart the U.S. and exit your F-1 status
- change your status to another visa type in the U.S.
- transfer your F-1 status to a new academic program
If you are departing the U.S. or changing your status, no action is needed with OIA. If you need assistance from an OIA DSO for an H-1B Cap Gap Extension, please email us.