Optional Practical Training STEM Extension

Students who have earned a degree from an accredited and SEVIS approved U.S. Institution, either currently or previously, in a STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics) may qualify to apply for an extension of their OPT for an additional 24 months.  

Students must be employed by an E-verify company.  There must be an established employer-employee relationship between the employer and the F-1 student.

Students may apply for STEM OPT extension up to 90 days prior and no later than their current OPT expiration date. USCIS must receive your application by your OPT expiration date at the latest.

Students are eligible to continue working up to 180 days after their current OPT end date while waiting for a decision from USCIS as long as they have their I-797C Receipt Notice showing that USCIS has received their application.

Application Procedure

Step 1: Checking your Eligibility

Complete the OPT STEM Extension Eligibility quiz to see if you are eligible to apply for the OPT STEM Extension.

Step 2: Sending Your Documents to OISS

Download and complete the following forms and email them to oiss@unlv.edu with the subject “OPT STEM Request Form for (NSHE#)”

Note: Save each form individually and email all 4 documents to oiss@unlv.edu. Please fill them out on your computer and save them as PDFs – do not print them out or fill them out with a pen.

  • OPT STEM Request Form  (you will be given access if you are eligible to apply - see Step 1)
  • I-983
    • This document does need to be printed & scanned because it needs to be signed by your supervisor and/or hiring manager
  • I-765 form (Do not sign.)
  • G-1145 form

Step 3: Scheduling an Appointment

  • Once you receive an email for your OPT I-20, make an appointment with your international advisor (DSO).
  • Please make an appointment at the WCONLINE website.

Step 4: Your OISS Appointment

You will need to bring the following to your appointment – to complete the process, organize your documents in this order:

  • Two (2) passport-style photos (2”x 2”) taken within 30 days. The background must be completely white.
  • Check or money order for $410, payable to: Department of Homeland Security
  • Completed G-1145 form
  • Completed I-765 form. Do not sign.
  • Copy of your current/most recent, valid passport (Passport Photo Only)
  • Copy of your current/most recent F-1 visa
  • Copy of your I-94 (front and back) or you can print an electronic copy at the Customs and Border Protection website.
  • Copy of the front and back of all of your previous Employment Authorization Document(s) (EAD)
  • Copy of your degree and unofficial transcripts or copy of your official transcripts
    • Transcripts must show level of degree, field of study, and graduation/degree conferral date
  • Photocopies of pages 1 - 3 of all your previous I-20s (Do not copy the regulations)
    • This includes I-20s from previous schools (including those from high school – if applicable)
    • If you feel like you are missing any I-20s, please request copies using the Reprint I-20s form.

Step 5: Mail your OPT STEM application to USCIS

Mail your application to either of the below addresses. Your application must be received within 60 days of the date on the OPT I-20. It is your responsibility to send it on time!

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Deliveries

USCIS
PO Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036

For Express Mail and Courier Deliveries (Ex: FedEx, UPS, DHL)

USCIS
Attn : AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

After You Submit Your Application

You will receive an email/text 7-10 days after USCIS has accepted your application. This does NOT mean that your OPT has been approved, or that you have been granted any benefits.

Important: If you receive a Request for Evidence from USCIS, bring it into an OISS advisor immediately and we will help you respond. This request is time sensitive, so bring it to OISS a soon as possible.

Responsibilities and Maintaining F-1 Status while on OPT STEM Extension

After you receive your EAD card from USCIS, email a copy of the card to our office (OISS@unlv.edu). You may also email the card directly to your international advisor.

Reminders — Opt Rules & Regulations

  • You can only begin work when you receive your EAD and can only work during the dates noted on the EAD card.
  • All employment must be directly related to your major.
  • You are allowed a maximum of 150 days of total unemployment while on OPT and OPT STEM Extension; after that, your OPT may be canceled.
    • Note: full-time employment on OPT means that you are employed in your field of study and you are working more than 20 hours per week.
  • You have a 60-day grace period following successful completion of OPT; you must depart the U.S. before this time (OR before the grace period ends you may file for a change of status, transfer your I-20 record to a new school, or begin a new program. Contact your international advisor for more information)
  • You must report any changes to employment or address to your international student advisor within 10 days of the change.
  • Note: If you change employers, you must fill out the final evaluation on the previous employer’s I-983 and complete a new I-983 with the new employer

Within 10 days of any changes to address or employment (moving to a new address, starting a job, quitting a job, adding a second job, etc.), contact your international advisor.

You must check in with your international advisor every six months once your OPT STEM Extension has been approved. Depending on which month of your STEM extension it is, you will have to submit different documents. Please see the table below:

Check-In Date Documents to Submit
6-Month Check-In (6 months after OPT STEM Start Date) Optional Practical Training (OPT) STEM 6-Month Validation Reporting Form
12-Month Check-In (12 months after OPT STEM Start Date) Optional Practical Training (OPT) STEM 6-Month Validation Reporting Form and Top half of page 5 of I-983 (1st Evaluation)
18-Month Check-In (18 months after OPT STEM Start Date) Optional Practical Training (OPT) STEM 6-Month Validation Reporting Form
24-Month Check-In (24 months after OPT STEM Start Date) Optional Practical Training (OPT) STEM 6-Month Validation Reporting Form and Bottom half of page 5 of I-983 (Final/2nd Evaluation)

Changing Employers while on OPT STEM Extension

Students are allowed to change employers while on the STEM extension. The new employer must also be E-Verified and the student must work for a minimum of 20 hours per week with compensation.

In order to change employers, students must submit: