The application for the 24-month STEM extension is much the same as applying for the initial 12 months of OPT, but some additional documents and reporting requirements are required.
Send a scanned copy of the completed and signed Form I-983 Training Plan to ISP. Electronic signatures are acceptable. The I-983 is not sent to USCIS as part of your STEM application packet, but is required by ISP and may be upload to SEVIS. (See "I-983 STEM" tab at the top of this page for tips on completing the form.) You are required to submit the completed and signed I-983 to ISP so we can create a new I-20 for you to use to apply for STEM.
Online application allows STEM applicants to submit forms, documents, photos and fee electronically, check the status of their case, and receive notices from USCIS online instead of waiting for them in the mail.
- Create USCIS Online Account
- VERY IMPORTANT: Select the correct STEM filing code = c 3 C
- Upload required documents, which include:
- VERY IMPORTANT: STEM I-20 that shows the 24-month STEM extension dates. This is issued after ISP receives your I-983.
- Passport style photo
- Current 12-month OPT EAD
- Caltech transcript showing all coursework completed + academic major
- I-94 showing date of most recent U.S. entry
- Valid passport ID page
- When prompted to upload proof of "institutional accreditation," most can skip this question as it refers only to those who apply based on a PRIOR (non-Caltech) degree
- When prompted to enter an A-number (Alien Registration Number), you may find it listed as the USCIS# the front of your OPT EAD.
- Pay application filing fee (credit card payment accepted)
Upon submission of your online STEM application online, you will receive an immediate USCIS receipt number for your tracking purposes confirming your application has been received and is pending. Your USCIS online account will also allow you to do the following:
- Track case status
- Communicate with USCIS through a secure inbox
- Respond to requests for evidence
If Choosing to Apply-by-Mail:
USCIS continues to accept the latest paper version of these forms by mail. Applicant is responsible for using the latest paper version and paying current application filing fee, per USCIS website. Do not submit a paper-based application if you have or will apply online.
- IMPORTANT: Printout of STEM I-20 that shows the 24-month STEM extension dates. This is issued after ISP receives your I-983.
- Application filing fee: Personal check from a U.S. bank, payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security" (money order or credit card payment not recommended). Review the USCIS website for current fees and procedures.
- Two identical passport photos. Photos must have been taken within the last 30 days and should not have been used for previous visa, passport, or EAD applications.
- Copy of any current and previous Employment Authorization Documents (EADs).
- Copy of diploma or copy of transcript showing degree coursework was completed.
- Printout of electronic I-94
- Copy of F-1 visa (valid or expired)
Canadian citizens are exempt from the visa requirement
- Copy of valid passport ID page
- Copy of I-20 issued for your 12-month OPT
- Form I-765 (ONLY use the official USCIS link for the most updated Form I-765. See "I-765" tab for tips on completing the form)
- Submit completed Form I-765 and supporting documentation by mail to the USCIS Lockbox address, based on where you live
Important Application Timeline:
Whether applying online or by mail, USCIS must receive your submitted online STEM application and all required documents, photos, and fee
- prior to the initial EAD expiration
- not more than 90 days before the initial EAD expiration
- within 60-days of ISP endorsing your I-20 for the STEM extension
USCIS systems operate on Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and application deadlines are based on UTC standards
- Determining STEM OPT Extension Eligibility
- E-Verify Employers and Federal Contractors List
- USCIS STEM OPT Extension
- Form I-765 Fillable + Instructions
- Form I-983 Overview and Tutorial
- Form I-983 Fillable
- DHS May Conduct Employer Site Visits
- Employer must be enrolled in E-Verify.
- Employment must be directly related to the academic major indicated on the I-20.
- STEM application must be based on a BS, MS, or PhD degree in a STEM-eligible field.
- Must have paid employment for a minimum of 20 hours per week per employer
- A Form I-983 must be on file with ISP for each job
- May apply for the STEM extension twice per lifetime
Yes! Once your STEM application has been received and accepted by USCIS, your employment authorization is automatically extended 180 days beyond the expiration date of your initial OPT EAD. Once you have received your new STEM EAD, your OPT is extended to the expiration date printed on your new EAD.
Yes! Students on STEM OPT extensions (including those whose application for a STEM OPT extension is pending) may travel abroad and seek reentry to the United States in F-1 status during the STEM OPT extension period if they have a valid F-1 visa that permits multiple entries and a current I-20 with travel signature from ISP within the last six months.
- I-20 issued for STEM OPT
- Receipt Notice showing you properly filed the STEM application
- Initial OPT EAD even if the end date has passed
- Letter from your employer verifying your current employment.
When you are on the approved STEM period, you are permitted a maximum of 150 days of unemployment, including any days of unemployment during the original 12-month OPT period. If you are nearing 90 days of unemployment, contact ISP to discuss what options are available to you. You must have an employment offer in order to apply for STEM.
Information on this page is designed to assist you complete and maintain Form I-983 throughout your period of authorized employment under STEM. Electronic signatures are acceptable.
Based on Prior Degree? Check No if the employment is related to the Caltech degree program you attended.
STEM OPT Requested Period (mm-dd-yyyy): 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, 2022, you will enter the STEM OPT Requested Period as: "06/20/2022 To: 06/19/2024."
Consult with your employer to complete this section.
Enter the name, phone number, and email address of your direct supervisor. This information is required in SEVIS. We cannot issue an I-20 without it.
Initial applicants can leave this section blank, but STEM participants must complete this evaluation (signed by you and your direct supervisor) at the end of the first 12 months of work on STEM. We do not require an entirely new I-983 if only the Evaluation Page is needed.
24-Month Reporting / End-of-Job Reporting / End-of-Status Reporting
Initial applicants can leave this section blank for now, but all STEM participants must complete the final evaluation (signed by you and your direct supervisor)...
- at the completion of your EAD, or
- upon completion of work for the current employer, or
- upon completion of F-1 status (if you obtain H1B status, a green card, or other)
STEM participants must pay very careful attention to I-983 Reporting Requirements. Adhering to reporting deadlines is a critical part of maintaining F-1 status to avoid unlawful presence.
STEM participants are required to maintain and submit an updated I-983 for each STEM employment. A new I-983 must be submitted to ISP if there is any material change to a previously-submitted I-983.
Form I-765 is required for the paper-based STEM Application. Information on this page is designed to assist you complete Form I-765 Application for STEM. Electronic signatures are NOT accepted on paper-based applications.
Reason for Applying: Check the box (1.c.) for "Renewal of my permission to accept employment."
Information About You: Your Legal Name: Enter your legal name as it appears in the Machine Readable Zone of your passport.
Information About You: Your U.S. Mailing Address: Enter a valid U.S. address where you can receive mail within the next 2 - 5 months. USCIS Receipt Notice, Approval Notice, and EAD (employment authorization document) will be sent to this address. USCIS does NOT forward mail. If it is undeliverable, it will be sent back to USCIS.
8 - 9: The A-number (Alien Registration Number) may be listed as the USCIS# on the front of your OPT EAD. You may not have a USCIS Online Account Number.
12: Check "Yes," because you did previously file Form I-765 for your initial OPT application.
13.a. Check "Yes" if you already hold a Social Security Number
14. Check "No" if you already hold an SSN, then skip to Item 18.
Information About Your Last Arrival in the United States:
21.a. Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Record Number: Download and print your I-94 from the I-94 Official Retrieval Website. Use your I-94 to complete items 21.a., 22, and 23.
26. SEVIS Number is found on the top left portion, marked SEVIS ID.
Information About Your Eligibility Category:
27. Enter (c) (3) (C) as the code for applying for the STEM extension.
28.a. Degree: Enter Bachelor's, Master's, or PhD
28.b. Consult your employer to know how the name is listed in E-Verify. (If you work at Caltech, handwrite "California Institute of Technology.")
28.c. Consult your employer to obtain the E-Verify Number. (Caltech's E-Verify number is 294161.)
29 - 31.b. These do not apply if you are requesting employment authorization for STEM OPT under Eligibility Category (c)(B)(C), as indicated in Item 27.
Applicant's Statement, Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature:
7.a. Write small. Your signature should NOT touch any lines or text on the form. Use BLACK ink.
Interpreter's Contact Information, Certification, and Signature:
If a question does not apply to you, type or print "N/A" or "None," unless otherwise directed.
Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature of the Person Preparing this Application, If Other Than the Applicant:
If a question does not apply to you, type or print "N/A" or "None," unless otherwise directed.
NOTICE: This section is to be used to list any and all previous SEVIS Numbers from any I-20s you received either from another U.S. school (before Caltech) or for CPT (Curricular Practical Training) and/or OPT (Optional Practical Training). There are no specific instructions on how to complete this section. Pending further guidance from USCIS, ISP suggests that you type in the blank lines, starting with 3.d., as follows:
- SEVIS Number, Degree Level, School Name,
- CPT: start date - end date + Full-Time vs. Part-Time (per CPT authorization)
- OPT: start date - end date