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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.  This is a new requirement resulting from the expanded, 24-Month extension.

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 August 12, 2016, you will enter the STEM OPT Requested Period as: "08/13/2016 To: 08/12/2018."
  • Page 3, Section 5: Employer Site Information:  Include the name, phone number, and email address of your direct supervisor here.  If your supervisor prefers not to serve as the "Official Signatory with Authority" in Section 4, that's fine; however, ISP still needs to receive the name, phone number, and email address of your direct supervisor.  This information is required in SEVIS before an I-20 can be issued for STEM OPT.
  • Page 6: Evaluation on Student Progress (Self-Evaluation):  Leave this section blank for now.  You must complete the self-evaluation at the end of the first 12 months of work on STEM OPT.  You must remember to submit an updated Page 6, completed and signed, as the first 12 months of STEM OPT end.  We will not require you to complete an entirely new I-983 if only Page 6 needs to be updated.
  • Page 7: Final Evaluation on Student Programs:  Leave this section blank for now.  You must complete the final evaluation at the end of the full 24-Months STEM, or at the end of the current employment, whichever comes earlier.  You must remember to submit an updated Page 7 with the Final Evaluation completed and signed.  We will not require you to complete an entirely new I-983 if only Page 7 needs to be updated.
  • See Immigration's Form I-983 Overview for more information and instructions.
  • Send a scanned copy of the completed and signed I-983 to ISP.  ISP does not need to maintain a hard copy.  ISP will maintain a digital copy only.  (The I-983 will not be sent to USCIS as part of the formal application packet.)

2. Copy of new I-20, showing updated extension dates for the additional 24 months.  Request the new I-20 from ISP.  You will need to submit a copy of this I-20 as part of the formal application packet.

  • ISP can only issue the STEM OPT I-20 after receiving your Form I-983.

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

4. Two identical passport photos.

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).

9. Copy of valid passport ID page.

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

11. Form I-765 (Below are instructions on how to complete Form I-765)

  • Type online or print in BLACK ink
  • Item 11
    • Answer: “Yes”
    • Which Office: Refer to your EAD, or ask ISP.
      • There are several USCIS Service Centers that adjudicate OPT applications.  The Service Center's 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 below:
        • 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 10, 12, 13, 14 = found on your I-94
  • Item 15 = “F-1 student” (likely the same for #14)
  • Item 16 = (c) (3) (C)
  • Item 17
    • 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 are working at Caltech, then you should use “California Institute of Technology” as the employer name.
    • Employer's E-Verify Company Identification Number or a valid E-Verify Client Company Identification Number
    • Caltech's E-Verify number is 294161.
  • CERTIFICATION (Signature):  Your signature should NOT touch any lines or text on the form.  Please 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, please 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.