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STEM OPT Application Procedures

How do I apply for the 24-Month STEM OPT?  What documents do I need to submit?

The application process is basically the same as applying for the initial 12 months of OPT, but with some additional documents and reporting requirements. 

Below is a detailed list of documents to prepare.

1. Form I-983 Training Plan completed and attested (signed) by you and your employer/supervisor.

ISP is required to maintain Forms I-983 for each STEM OPT participant.  You are required to submit a new Form I-983 to ISP any time there is an update to your employer or to the nature of the employment as reflected in the I-983.  Below are tips for completing the I-983:

  • Page 1: STEM OPT Requested Period:  List the full 24-Month period.  Enter the start date as the day after your current EAD expires.  Then, enter the end date as 24 months later.  For example, if your current 12-Month OPT ends on June 19, 2018, you will enter the STEM OPT Requested Period as: "06/20/2018 To: 06/19/2020."
  • IMPORTANT: Page 3, Section 5: Employer Site Information:  Enter the name, phone number, and email address of your direct supervisor.  Even if your supervisor is not serving as the "Employer Official with Signatory Authority," your direct supervisor's information is required in this section.  This information is required in SEVIS.  We cannot issue an I-20 without it.
  • Evaluation on Student Progress
    (Self-Evaluation / 12-Month Reporting)

    Initial applicants can leave this section blank, but you must complete the self-evaluation (signed by you and your direct supervisor) at the end of the first 12 months of work on STEM OPT.  We will not require you to complete an entirely new I-983 if only the Evaluation Page is needed.
  • Final Evaluation on Student Programs
    (24-Month Reporting / End-of-Job Reporting)
    Initial applicants can leave this section blank for now, but you must complete the final evaluation (signed by you and your direct supervisor) at the end of the full 24-Months STEM, OR at the end of the current employment, whichever comes earlier.
  • See the Form I-983 Overview for more detailed instructions.
  • Send a scanned copy of the completed and signed I-983 to ISP.  ISP does not need to maintain a hard copy.  (The I-983 is not sent to USCIS as part of the formal application packet.)

2. Copy of new I-20, showing the 24-month STEM OPT extension dates.  This will be issued by ISP only after ISP receives your completed I-983. (You must keep the original I-20 for yourself, as you will need it for any travel and re-entry to the United States.)

3. $410 application filing fee (check or money order, made payable to "US Department of Homeland Security").

4. Two identical passport photos.  Note: Photos must have been taken within the last 30 days and should not have been used for previous visa, passport, or EAD applications.

5. Copy of any current and previous Employment Authorization Documents (EADs).

6. Copy of diploma or copy of transcript showing all degree coursework was completed.

7. Printout of electronic I-94 (or copy of front and back of paper I-94).

8. Copy of F-1 visa (valid or expired). Canadian citizens are exempt from the visa requirement.

9. Copy of valid passport ID page.

10. Copy of I-20 issued for your 12-month OPT.

11. Form I-765 (Below are some helpful tips for completing Form I-765)

  • Type online, or print in BLACK ink
  • In the first section stating "I am applying for," check the box for "Renewal of my permission to accept employment."
  • Item 9.a.
    • “Yes” if you already hold a Social Security Number
  • Item 10
    • "No" if you already hold a Social Security Number, then skip to Item 14.
  • Item 15
    • “Yes”
    • Which Office: Refer to your EAD, or ask ISP.
      • There are several USCIS Service Centers that adjudicate OPT applications.  The Service Center code is found in the first three letters of the USCIS # on your EAD.  For example, if your EAD shows YSC12345678, the "YSC" signifies that the Potomac Service Center adjudicated your OPT application.  The Service Center codes are:
        • WAC = California Service Center
        • YSC = Potomac Service Center
        • EAC = Vermont Service Center
        • LIN = Nebraska Service Center
        • SRC = Texas Service Center
    • Dates: Enter start date found on initial EAD
    • Results: “Granted (see attached)”
  • Items 16, 17, 18 = found on your I-94
  • Item 20 = (c) (3) (C)
  • Item 21
    • Employer’s Name as listed in E-Verify (check with the company if you are uncertain). There is very little space to type here.  You can choose to handwrite the Employer Name instead. (If you work at Caltech, handwrite “California Institute of Technology.”)
    • Employer's E-Verify Company Identification Number or a valid E-Verify Client Company Identification Number. (Caltech's E-Verify number is 294161.)
    Items 22 - 23 = These do not apply if you are requesting employment authorization for STEM OPT under Eligibility Category (c)(B)(C), as indicated in Item 20.
  • CERTIFICATION (Signature):  Your signature should NOT touch any lines or text on the form.  Use black ink.  Write small so that your signature does not cross any lines or text on the page.

12. Submit the completed Form I-765 and all supporting documentation by mail to the appropriate USCIS Lockbox address, based on where you live

IMPORTANT: Your completed application must be received by USCIS before your initial EAD expires.  It must be received by USCIS within 60 days of the date ISP signed the STEM OPT I-20, but you cannot apply earlier than 90 days prior to the current EAD end date.  If you have any questions about the timeline, contact ISP to review this together.

Still have questions? 
Review the STEM OPT Frequestly Asked Questions online, then contact ISP if you wish to review anything with us directly.