AM I ELIGIBLE TO APPLY?
Pratt has 12 areas of study that are eligible for the STEM OPT extension:
- Digital Arts [Undergraduate and Graduate]
- Information Experience Design [Graduate]
- Data Analytics and Visualization [Graduate]
- Architecture (Post-Professional) [Graduate]
- Architecture (First-Professional) [Graduate]
- Architecture and Urban Design [Graduate]
- Sustainable Environmental Systems [Graduate]
- Construction Management (Undergraduate)
- Facilities Management (Graduate)
- Architecture (Undergraduate)
- Library and Information Science (Graduate)
- Museums and Digital Culture (Graduate)
These are the only programs of study at Pratt that are able to apply for the 24-month STEM OPT extension.
From USCIS: “On March 11, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security published a final rule allowing certain F-1 students who receive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees, and who meet other specified requirements, to apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion OPT. The 24-month extension will replace the 17-month STEM OPT extension previously available to STEM students (see 73 FR 18944). Eligible students may now apply for a 24-month STEM OPT extension.” (link).
There is a lifetime limit of two periods of 24-month STEM OPT; each occurring after a higher degree level has been obtained. A STEM degree obtained at a U.S. university prior to your current degree may be the basis for a STEM extension under certain circumstances.
See detailed information on the STEM Hub: studyinthestates.dhs.gov/stem-opt-hub.
Important Eligibility Requirements
In order to be eligible for this extension, students applying for this benefit must:
- Have been granted OPT and currently be in a valid period of OPT;
- Have earned a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from a school that is accredited by a U.S. Department of Education-recognized accrediting agency and is certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) when you submit your STEM OPT extension application;
- Work for an employer who meets all the requirements listed in the STEM OPT Employer Responsibilities section (link);
- Submit the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization up to 90 days before your current OPT employment authorization expires, and within 60 days of the date your designated school official (DSO) enters the recommendation for OPT into your Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) record.
Apply during a valid period of Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) so that USCIS will be able to receive your application before your OPT End Date. “Students may not apply for STEM OPT extensions during the 60-day grace period following an initial (usually 12-month) period of post-completion OPT” (link).
WHEN SHOULD I APPLy?
You must first apply for and be granted Post-Completion OPT before you are eligible to apply for the STEM OPT Extension.
Students may apply up to 90 days before your Post-Completion OPT expires and must submit the entire application to USCIS before your current Post-Completion OPT expires.
WHAT YOU NEED TO APPLY
STEM Extension (24 months) Checklist:
NOTICE: YOUR EMPLOYER MUST BE ENROLLED IN THE E-VERIFY PROGRAM FOR YOU TO BE ELIGIBLE FOR THIS 24-MONTH STEM EXTENSION.
Please submit the following to an OIA advisor:
- A personal check or money order for $410; make payable to USCIS
- Two passport style photos on a white/light background - write name and SEVIS ID on back
- Maintaining Status While on Post Completion OPT
- STEM OPT Cover Letter
- Photocopies of all I-20s from every school you’ve attended in the USA (including high school, ESL, other U.S. institution, etc.)
- Photocopy of your unexpired passport (must be valid six months into the future)
- Photocopy of I-94 record. If you don’t have a paper I-94 card, download your most recent I-94 record from: i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/recent-search.You may have a paper I-94 card if you entered before 2013, completed a change of status inside the U.S., or entered the U.S. via a land border of Canada or Mexico.
- Photocopy of F-1 entry visa
- Copy of front and back of current EAD Card
- Completed Form I-765
- Make certain to answer the #20 and #21 with the following information:
- # 20: (c) (3) (c)
- # 21: Degree = your degree level
- Employer’s name as listed in E-Verify; Employer’s E-Verify Identification Number (which you must request from your employer)
- Copy of Diploma that shows your degree level and program of student (applicable to the STEM field).
- Completed and signed Form I-983
Please note that “F-1 students cannot qualify for STEM OPT extensions unless they will be bona fide employees of the employer signing the Form I-983, and students may not provide employer attestations on their own behalf"(link).
- Recommendation I-20 for STEM OPT Extension (this can only be issued by OIA and is done after review of all your documentation)
- Checklist: Use this checklist to help you assemble your STEM OPT application. Check the boxes off and put it on top of your application when you come in to OIA.
If you are eligible for the STEM Extension and have all of the appropriate documentation, after reviewing your documentation, an OIA Advisor will issue you a new I-20 with a recommendation for the STEM OPT Extension.
WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I APPLY?
An OIA advisor will provide you guidance on where to mail your application to request the STEM OPT Extension. You must mail your application within 30 days of when we issue the new I-20, and then it usually takes 2-3 months for your request to be processed.
After you receive your Employment Authorization Document (or EAD Card), you must provide OIA with a copy of the front and back of the document via email at email@example.com. While on the STEM OPT Extension, your reporting requirements are greater than OPT.
You are required to report and verify specific information to OIA within very particular timeframes. See the ‘OPT Reporting’ link in the left menu for guidance on what you will need to report to us.