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STEM Extension Optional Practical Training (OPT)

F-1 students who receive STEM degrees may apply for a 24-month extension of their Post-Completion OPT.

Unfortunately, as an F-2 dependent you may not engage in employment or business under any circumstances. Failure to observe this requirement will place you out of status.

Employers may be cited, fined, and/or imprisoned for hiring persons ineligible for employment or maintaining employees who are no longer authorized to be employed.

STEM Extension Optional Practical Training (OPT)

F-1 students who receive STEM degrees may apply for a 24-month extension of their Post-Completion OPT.

  • Must currently be in a valid period of Post-Completion OPT.
  • Must have earned a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctorate degree from an accredited, SEVP-certified, U.S. institution of higher education in an approved STEM major.
  • Job must be directly related to degree.
  • The CIP code of degree's major field of study must appear on the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List. Please visit this link for a full list of STEM OPT Eligible Degrees offered at NSU.
  • Training must be a paid job, for at least 20 hours per week at each STEM employer.
    • Student cannot own his/her own business, work through a staffing agency, or be a contracted worker.
  • Employer must be enrolled in E-Verify and have an IRS Employer Identification Number (EIN).
  • Student and employer must complete and sign the Form I-983 Training Plan

STEM Extension Optional Practical Training (OPT)

STEP 1) Review the 24 Month STEM OPT Extension Presentation and Step by Step Guidelines to Apply Online. 

STEP 2) Visit the List of STEM-Eligible CIP codes  to verify if you are eligible for a STEM Extension.  Your CIP code is listed next to your major on your valid NSU I-20.

You can also go to the Eligibility Tab for additional information. 

STEP 3) Complete the NSU STEM Extension OPT Application Packet and begin the I-765 to submit your draft. Instructions on how to complete the I-765 application online can be found at internationalaffairs/step-by-step.pptx 

STEP 4) Your STEM OPT application should include completed I-983 form .  We also provide you with instructions on how to complete the I-983 form. 

STEP 5) After completing the NSU OPT packet and I-765 draft, submit these documents by email to Your application will be reviewed and the I-20 recommending OPT will be processed.

The processing time required to produce your new I-20 will be within 7 to 10 business days. 

STEP 6) Once you have received your updated I-20 recommending STEM OPT, you can now upload the document and submit your application online.


It is imperative you receive your STEM OPT authorized I-20 before applying online. Applying online without your employment authorized I-20 will result in your STEM OPT being denied.

USCIS offers F-1 students the option of requesting premium processing when filing their STEM Extension OPT application.

The premium processing fee is $1,500 and the decision processing timeframe on a complete application is 30 calendar days (count starts when you properly file the Form I-907 and pay the premium processing fee).

The Premium Processing fee is in addition to the cost of the I-765 application. Please see the USCIS webpage I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for additional details, instructions and filing fee costs.

Premium processing requires you to file a I-907 application form (online) along with the I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.

This option is new and you can read the full March 6, 2023 news announcement at: USCIS Announces Premium Processing; New Online-Filing Procedures for Certain F-1 Students Seeking OPT or STEM OPT Extensions.

Filing for premium processing is optional. Prior to paying the premium processing fee, the Office of International Affairs recommends that you consider the following:

  • USCIS I-765 processing times
  • The amount of time before your intended OPT employment start date.
  • Whether you need your EAD for travel purposes after your I-20 end date

To check processing times for any type of OPT application go to USCIS I-765 processing times and select:

  • “I-765 Application for Employment Authorization” under “Form”,
  • “Based on a request by a qualified F-1 academic student [(c)(3)]” under “Form Category”, and
  • “Potomac Service Center” under “Field Office or Service Center”

STEM Extension Optional Practical Training (OPT)

After your receive your EAD, please be sure to keep the following:

  • Work only until the end date listed on your EAD card.
  • Only have employment that is directly related to your major.
  • Maintain a valid passport.
  • Work at least 20 hours per week.
  • Email a copy of your EAD to OIA; 
  • Keep records for each employment experience including the position held, proof of the duration of that position, contact information of your supervisor, and a description of your job duties.



  • Report any changes in the information below within 10 days of obtaining employment.
    • If there were no changes in your employment, you do need to report your employment information again.
    • SEVP will send an email when your STEM OPT is close to your start date. This email should include a link where you can report your employment for your SEVIS record.
    • If you do not have access to your SEVP portal, you must reach out to our office to report your employment.  Send an e-mail to 
    • After your 6th and 18th month of employment, you will receive an e-mail from SEVP to confirm employment or if any changes have occurred. 
    • After the 12 month and 24 month of you working, you will need to complete a I-983 evaluation. Send it to OIA; after you complete the evaluation.


The following table suggests the best way to report the required information:

Situation Reportable Information
Change to a new job
  • Previous employer name
  • Previous employment end date
  • Submit previous I-983, with evaluations completed 
  • Submit a new I-983, with a new training plan completed
  • New employer name
  • Employment start date
  • Employer mailing address
  • Indicate "unemployed"
  • Ending date of last job
You decide to exit the U.S. and complete your F-1 status prior to the end date of OPT
  • Indicate "Completing OPT and exiting the U.S."
  • Date of exit
Change of legal name
  • Documentation indicating the name change
Change of residential or mailing address
  • New residential or mailing address
Change of email address
  • New email

 You will also need to re-submit parts of your I-983 after 12 months and after 24 months. This will include evaluations from your employer about your training progress and improvements.



You may not accrue more than 150 days of unemployment, which includes any unemployment days accrued while on Standard OPT — exceeding this time limit will cause you to lose your status. The following counts towards unemployment:

  • Each day between your start and end dates that you do not have qualifying employment
  • Travel outside the U.S. while unemployed
  • Travel while employed with authorization from your employer will not count towards your unemployment; this includes approved periods of authorized leave or work-related travel

Terminate your employment when:

  • your EAD expires
  • you transfer your SEVIS record to another school
  • begin study at another educational level with a new I-20
  • you exceed 150 days of unemployment
  • (whichever situation above comes first)

Depart the U.S. within 60 days of completing your STEM OPT if your Form I-20 is not extended or transferred to another SEVIS approved school.


STEM Extension Optional Practical Training (OPT)

When can I apply for a STEM OPT Extension?
  • Please apply for an extension within 90 days of your EAD card expiring. We recommend doing this as early as possible. You are not able to apply for a STEM OPT Extension after your EAD has expired 
 What happens if I change my address during the application process?
  • If you move while your OPT application is being processed and your address is not in your application, you must report this change of address within 10 days of moving to both of the following places
Am I legally allowed to work in the U.S. on an F-1 visa?
  • Yes. F-1 visa holders are legally allowed to work off-campus through Curricular Practical Training (after their first two semesters) and Optional Practical Training (after graduation) as long as they receive authorization through ISSS and USCIS, respectively, prior to working.
Do I need "sponsorship" now or in the future?
  • Companies may choose to sponsor a worker on an F visa during their OPT as long as they meet the H-1B (sponsored worker visa) criteria. If you are choosing to pursue sponsorship then you may want to indicate this as part of your discussions with prospective employers, but we encourage you to make sure each prospective employer understands that you are legally eligible for work for up to 12 months (36 if in a STEM designated field) regardless of sponsorship beyond this term. If you are sponsored for an H-1B you enter a visa lottery and we encourage you and your employer to work with a qualified immigration attorney as part of that process.



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