Skip to main content

OPT STEM Extension

Optional Practical Training STEM extension gives you an additional 24 months of OPT authorization if you have a U.S. degree in an approved science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) field.

If you are currently in your initial period of post-graduation OPT, and you graduated from a degree program in one of these STEM fields, you may be eligible to apply. Find out about eligibility requirements below. Also check out the latest Department of Homeland Security (DHS) updates on OPT STEM.

To support services for the growing population of international students on F-1 OPT and OPT STEM extension, a service maintenance fee is charged: $150 to apply for OPT, and $250 to apply for OPT STEM.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) now offers online submission of your OPT I-20. If you choose to use this option, please follow the directions on the USCIS online application portal.  Please also review important information provided by USCIS on how to avoid OPT/STEM OPT processing delays at DHS, CIS Ombudsman Tip Sheet (Revised Sept. 2023)

Can I expedite my application at USCIS?

USCIS will accept Form I-907 premium processing requests from F1 students when their Form I-907 is filed concurrently with a Form I-765 employment authorization application.

The Form I-907 premium processing timeframe is 30 calendar days after USCIS receives all prerequisites for the adjudication. USCIS will accept both online and paper filings of Form I-907 for these F-1 EAD applications. Please locate the correct filing at at the USCIS fee website

Can I get a STEM extension on a previously earned degree?

You can apply for a STEM extension based on a STEM degree you earned in the past if:

  • You earned that degree in the United States.
  • You are currently working in a job related to that STEM field.
  • You have not already applied for OPT STEM based on that degree.

Even if you earned the previous degree at a different university, Cornell will recommend the STEM extension for your previous degree on your current 1-20 SEVIS record if you are currently on OPT through Cornell.

Can I apply for a STEM extension for more than one degree?

If you get another qualifying STEM degree at a higher degree level, and you take the regular 12 months of OPT connected to that degree, you will be able to apply for the STEM extension a second time after the 12 months are finished.


You must fulfill all of the following requirements to be eligible for a STEM extension:

  • You must be an F-1 student currently in your first 12 months of OPT or on the cap-gap OPT extension

  • Your first 12 months of OPT or your cap-gap OPT extension will end within the next 90 days.
  • USCIS must receive and receipt your STEM OPT application before your current post-completion OPT ends.
  • You have earned a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. degree in the United States in a qualifying STEM field. Check that your Major 1 or Major 2 codes on Form I-20 are on the STEM field list.
  • Your current employer is enrolled in E-Verify.
  • You have a job or job offer for paid work of at least 20 hours a week in your STEM field.
  • You must be hired and paid by the company where you will work. You cannot be employed by a temporary staffing agency, for example, and then placed at another employer. Self-employment is not an option.

Got a job? Great!

How to Apply for OPT with STEM extension

  1. Make I-983 Plan
  2. Pay Fee
  3. Request I-20
  4. Complete I-765
  5. Download I-94
  6. Get Photos
  7. Get Transcript
  8. Submit Application
  9. Get EAD Doc

1 Complete a I-983 training plan.

Complete the Department of Homeland Security’s I-983 training plan with your work supervisor. For details, visit the STEM OPT Hub.

2Pay the OPT STEM service maintenance fee.

Pay the nonrefundable $250 OPT STEM service maintenance fee via Flywire or Credit Card. You will be asked to upload a screenshot or pdf of your purchase confirmation in the form request in Step 3.

3 Request a STEM OPT I-20.

Complete the STEM OPT I-20 Form to request an I-20 updated with a recommendation for OPT STEM extension. Scan and attach your completed I-983 and your paid fee receipt to your request. If you are applying for STEM OPT based on a previous degree, please email us directly.

NOTE: You must wait to receive your STEM OPT I-20 before filing your STEM OPT extension application with USCIS.

How long will it take to get my new I-20?

We process these requests and create the form in five business days.

How to I obtain my new I-20?

You may download your document via the Documents section of your myStatus Portal. (Documents icon can be found top-right of your portal screen.) Please be sure to print and sign your new I-20, before submitting your OPT application.

4 Complete an I-765 form.

There two options to apply for STEM OPT Extension. Choose only one of these options.

NOTE: Effective April 1, 2024, USCIS is implementing a new filing fee for form I-765.  

Recommended: Online Filing

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) now offers online submission of your OPT application! Follow the directions on the USCIS online application portal. You will need to create an account with USCIS after choosing "File Online" from the USCIS I-765 page.

Hard Copy Mailing 

If you choose paper filing, download the I-765 form from the USCIS website. Follow these instructions for filling out the I-765 form. Important: Choose a mailing address for question 5.a where you know can safely receive mail. Do not choose the Office of Global Learning or a Cornell department. 

Keep a copy of your completed I-765 for your records. If you want to receive electronic notifications about your application, also fill out the G-1145 form.

5 Download your I-94.

You will need your I-94 arrival record that was created when you entered the United States most recently. You will need your passport in front of you to retrieve your record. Go to the "get most recent I-94" tab, and download the page it generates after entering your passport information.

6 Get new photos.

You will need two brand-new passport-type photographs. These must have been taken within the last 30 days. Photos that you have previously used for a visa or passport are not permitted.

NOTE: If applying by mail (hardcopy mailing), do not cut the photos. USCIS will trim the photos to their preferred dimensions. Clearly write your name and your U.S. admission record number (from your I-94 arrival record) lightly in pencil on the back of each photo. Put the photos in an envelope and attach it to the front of your I-765.

7 Order your academic transcript.

You will need a copy of your Cornell academic transcript—or an academic transcript from another U.S. university if you are applying based on a previous STEM degree. Alternately, you may submit a copy of your diploma if it states your degree field.

8 Submit your OPT STEM application to USCIS.*

*When applying online, follow the USCIS online portal instructions to complete your submission Do not submit anything by mail.

If I choose to mail my application, what documents do I need to include?

  • Form I-765
  • Two new passport-type photographs. Put the photos in an envelope, and attach the envelope to the front of your I-765.
  • Form G-1145, if you want to receive electronic notifications.
  • Copy of pages 1 and 2 of your new STEM OPT I-20, with your signature on page 1 and the OPT STEM recommendation on page 2.
  • Copies of all previous I-20s showing CPT and/or OPT.
  • A printout of your I-94 U. S. Admission Record (not your travel history) from the United States Customs and Border Protection website, or a copy of your I-94 card.
  • Copy of the photo identification page of your passport with your passport’s expiration date.
  • Copy of the F-1 visa page of your passport, even if expired. (If you are a Canadian, you won't have this.)
  • Copy of transcript or diploma, if it states your degree field.
  • Photocopy of your previous OPT card or EAD, if you have one.
  • A U.S. check or money order for the paper filing fee as indicated on the USCIS I-765 page. Make your check payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Cash is not accepted. Attach the fee to the front of your application materials. NOTE: Effective April 1, 2024, USCIS is implementing a new filing fee for form I-765.  

Where should I mail the application? 

When applying by mail only, send all documents by certified mail with a return receipt, so that you have a tracking number and proof that USCIS received your application. You can also use a courier service like FedEx or UPS.

Send all documents to the following address:

USCIS Chicago Lockbox

U.S. Postal Service (USPS)
Attn: I-765 C03
P.O. Box 805373
Chicago, IL 60680-5374

FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:

Attn: I-765 C03 (Box 805373)
131 South Dearborn - 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517

I-765/I-907 Premium Processing

If you are requesting premium processing services for Form I-765, you must also file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service.

Before you file the Form I-765/I-907 package, check our How Do I Request Premium Processing page to ensure that the requested eligibility category is eligible for premium processing.

U.S. Postal Service (USPS):

Attn: I-907
P.O. Box 805501
Chicago, IL 60680

FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:

Attn: I-907 (Box 805501)
131 South Dearborn, 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517

What if my OPT expires while I’m waiting for my extension?

As soon as USCIS receives your OPT STEM extension application, your current OPT work authorization will be automatically extended until USCIS makes a final decision or for 180 days, whichever comes first.

What are the OPT STEM reporting requirements?

You and your employer need to fulfill specific reporting obligations throughout your OPT employment, including during the STEM extension. Find out more.

What if I change jobs while on OPT STEM extension?

If you change jobs, update the Office of Global Learning within 10 days of starting your new employment.

Can I get an updated I-20 showing my new job?

If you want an updated I-20, request a new copy in the myStatus portal. Please wait one week after submitting your updated employment information before making this request.

9 Wait to get your EAD.

It takes up to three months for USCIS to process your OPT STEM extension application and issue a new OPT card. This card is also called an employment authorization document (EAD).

Once your case is under way, USCIS will send you a notice of receipt (I-797) in the mail. Please read the notice carefully as it contains a lot of important information. When you have the receipt notice, you can begin to track your case status online

As soon as USCIS receives your OPT STEM extension application, your current OPT work authorization will be automatically extended until USCIS makes a final decision or for 180 days, whichever comes first.