Please bear with us as our OPT/STEM OPT pages are currently under construction. More information on the I-765 online filing process can be found at the USCIS website or by speaking to your Davis IC International Student Advisor.
NOTE: Please allow up to 10 business days for processing, so plan accordingly. Reviewing and processing STEM OPT applications requires more time and more careful processing. Depending on the volume of all applications we receive, sometimes we may really need 10 business days to process these requests. Thank you for your understanding.
Resources: NAFSA, Association of International Educators, USCIS 24-month STEM OPT Hub; Fragomen Worldwide Law Firm STEM OPT Alert
- Must currently be on post-completion OPT.
- F-1 students with Bachelor's, Master's or PhD degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) are eligible to apply. The STEM Designated Degree Program List can be found on the SEVP website.
- Job or job offer directly related to the STEM field of study.
- Job or job offer from an employer who participates in the U.S. Government E-Verify employment verification system.
- Limited to two STEM OPT extensions during student lifetime. Students who had already obtained one STEM OPT become eligible for a second STEM OPT extension after:
- Earning another qualifying STEM degree at a higher degree level and
- Obtaining a new initial grant of standard 12-month post-completion OPT based on that higher degree.
- Must submit the 24-month extension to the USCIS BEFORE your initial 12-month period of OPT ends.
- Must comply with additional reporting requirements related to your name, address and employer information (see #7,8,9 below).
- May not request all 36 months (12+24) in the initial OPT application: must apply for initial 12 months of post-completion OPT first.
You may be eligible for a STEM OPT extension if you hold a prior U.S. degree in a qualifying STEM field, provided that:
- Your previously obtained STEM degree is directly related to the OPT opportunity;
- Your prior STEM degree was conferred within 10 years of the STEM extension application date; you cannot qualify merely on the basis of having met degree requirements;
- Your prior STEM degree was earned at a U.S. institution that is accredited and registered with the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) at the time the Davis IC issues your I-20 for the 24-month STEM extension;
- Your prior STEM degree is in a field listed on the STEM designated program list at the time the Davis IC issues your I-20 for the 24-month STEM OPT extension; and
- You are currently in a period of 12-month OPT based on your most recent U.S. degree.
E-Verify is an electronic employment eligibility verification system under which employers commit to use an electronic database to check whether the name and social security number presented by new hires match the records in the Social Security database, and whether any immigration documents presented by the employee match information in the Department of Homeland Security database. If an employer is not enrolled in E-Verify, a STEM student CANNOT obtain a 24 month OPT extension.
You may file for the 24-month STEM extension up to 90 days prior to the end of your post-completion OPT. You may submit your application to the Davis IC up to 105 days prior to your current OPT end date. You must apply before your current OPT end date. Please make sure to send your documents to Davis IC no later than 30 days prior to your current OPT EAD card end date.
You may send your 24-month STEM OPT Application to the USCIS no earlier than 90 days prior to your current 12-month OPT end date. The earliest you may request a STEM OPT I-20 from the Davis IC (see Step 1 below) is 105 days prior to your current 12-month OPT end date.
Before you submit your STEM OPT application to Davis IC, please make sure that you have reported your current OPT employment and current address to the Davis IC OPT Reporting Form.
STEP 1: SUBMIT THE BELOW DOCUMENTS VIA DAVIS IC SECURE DOCUPORT.
Please do not submit your documents via email since it is not a secure form of submission.
1.Information Sheet for the STEM OPT Extension - All items must be completed.
You and your employer are required to jointly prepare a formal training plan on Form I-983 and submit it to Davis IC. We cannot recommend you for a STEM extension until we review and approve the plan.
The plan must explain how the STEM OPT employment will provide a work-based learning opportunity and must also describe:
- The specific goals of the training opportunity, including the knowledge, skills or techniques that will be imparted to you;
- How your employer intends to meet these goals;
- How the training is directly related to your qualifying STEM degree;
- Your employer's methods for evaluating the success of the training opportunity;
- How your employer will oversee and supervise your employment-based training; and
- Your compensation, which must be commensurate with that paid to similarly situated U.S. employees.
- In addition, you and your employer must attest that you will comply with STEM OPT program rules.
- The training plan asks for a name of your DSO. Please leave that field blank. The Davis IC advisor processing your STEM OPT application will enter that information.
- On page 2, for the start date of employment, please list "the date when the student will begin the STEM OPT training with the employer." as per SEVP instructions.
- We recommend that you fill in all information directly on the I-983, but if there is not enough space, and you need to attach additional pages, each continuation pages must reference the section and question that the continuation is needed for and be signed and dated by the Employer Official with Signatory Authority.
- Davis IC is required to review the training plan to make sure that it contains all of the required elements and is signed by you and your employer before we can issue you a new I-20 with a STEM OPT recommendation.
- More detailed information about the Form I-983 training plan, as well as instructions how to complete the training plan, can be found on the Department of Homeland Security website. You and/or your supervisor should consult the SEVP instructions and/or the I-983 Training Tutorial for any questions you may have regarding the form completion. If any additional assistance is needed, you and/or your supervisor may need to seek advice from your company's Human Resources or Office of General Counsel.
Receiving your I-20 with the STEM OPT Recommendation
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Student & Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has issued guidance permitting schools to issue electronic I-20s. This I-20 will be your current, valid I-20 and may be used for all purposes associated with the Form I-20 document.
If you require the physical copy for a DMV/MVC/SSA application or prefer to receive the physical copy, please complete the following:
- Create a shipment request with eShip Global and enter your address and payment information. The Davis IC will use this secure eShip Global account to send your original STEM OPT I-20 Form and instructions for you to follow when mailing your STEM OPT application to the USCIS.
- Send an email to your International Student Advisor notifying them that you would prefer to have your STEM I-20 mailed to you.
Your documents will be sent to you electronically at the permanent email address on file unless you indicate to us otherwise.
STEP 2: RECEIVE, REVIEW, AND SUBMIT YOUR STEM APPLICATION TO USCIS
1. After you receive the STEM OPT I-20 from the Davis IC, you are responsible for completing your application with USCIS. It is crucial that you submit an application that is complete and accurate. Incomplete and/or inaccurate applications may result in delay or denial of your STEM OPT.
PREPARING YOUR STEM OPT APPLICATION
- Log-in/Create your account with USCIS
- Upload photocopies of the following:
- Photocopy of any previously issued EADs (front and back)
- Most recent electronic I-94 Arrival Page printout
- Photocopy of signed I-20 with STEM OPT recommendation on page 2
- Proof of STEM degree in the form of a copy of your Princeton transcript or diploma (English translation must be submitted if diploma is in Latin. You may print a translation by going here. Please review the translation instruction on page 20 of the I-765 instructions.)
- Recent 2x2 passport-style photo
- You can use the U.S. Department of State Photo Tool to check the photo you wish to upload for your application.
- $410 fee from checking/savings account, debit card, or credit card
- Important Note: Do not pay the I-765 application fee until you have reviewed your application for accuracy. Once you pay the fee on the pay.gov prompt, your I-765 application will be considered complete and submitted to USCIS.
- Applicants will be directed by the online I-765 application to pay the fee at a U.S. Government safe and secure website called pay.gov.
- Save a copy of the payment receipt for your records.
Even if your current OPT EAD expires, you may continue to work up to 180 days beyond the expiration date while your STEM OPT application is pending. However, it is important that you apply for an extension in a timely manner.
It is the student's responsibility to provide updates and changes in the following information to the Davis IC within 10 days of any change. Failure to do so would constitute a violation of the student's F-1 status.
- Address Change
- Interruption of Employment: A final STEM evaluation is due within 10 days of ending any employment. The entire I-983 training plan must be submitted with the final evaluation page. NOTE: The final evaluation should encompass the complete training period and the end date of the evaluation should therefore match your final day of employment with the previous employer.
- New Employment: A new I-983 Training Plan is due within 10 days of beginning your new employment. Note that any change in employment will result in the issuance of an updated I-20.
- Updated Form I-983 Mentoring and Training Plan: An updated Form I-983 Mentoring and Training Plan must be executed and submitted to the Davis IC within 10 days of:
- Any time there is a "material change" in the terms and conditions of the original I-983. Material changes include but are not limited to:
- Any change of Employer Identification Number (EIN) resulting from a corporate restructuring
- Any reduction in compensation from the amount previously submitted on the Form I-983 or successor form that is not tied to a reduction in hours worked
- Any significant decrease in hours per week that a student engages in a STEM training opportunity
- Any change or deviation that renders an employer attestation inaccurate, or renders inaccurate the information in the Form I-983 or successor form on the nature, purpose, oversight, or assessment of the student’s practical training opportunity
- Any time there is a "material change" in the terms and conditions of the original I-983. Material changes include but are not limited to:
Six-month Validity Report: In addition to the requirements above, a validation report is due every six months starting from the date your STEM extension starts and ending when your F-1 status ends or the STEM extension ends, whichever comes first.
Note: Students who have reached the 1-year mark or are nearing the end of their STEM authorization are also required to submit a self-evaluation as outlined below in Section 8.
SEVP launched the SEVP Portal to allow students access to update employer and address information themselves in their record. To ensure full compliance with federal regulations and SEVP guidance, ONLY the following actions may be taken in the SEVP Portal while on the STEM extension:
- Address or personal information updates
All new employment, employment updates, end of employment reporting, and validations/evaluations must be submitted directly to the Davis IC for processing due to I-983 requirements.
Any change in employment that results in a material change to the I-20 (i.e. employer name, employment dates, change in state/city of site of employment) will result in the issuance of an updated document reflecting the update reported. Please note that your employer name will be listed on your I-20 in the same manner that you report it.
New I-20s may be retrieved through one of the following methods:
- Pick up from the Davis International Center during Business Hours.
- Create and pay for a shipment through eShip Global. You must provide the confirmation number to the Davis IC. Note that all international shipments must be done through eShip Global.
- Request mailing through USPS. Should you choose this option you will be required to provide a U.S. mailing address. Please note that tracking and expedited shipping are not available through USPS.
Please allow 5 business days for your new I-20 to be issued for an employment update.
You must complete two self-evaluations during your STEM OPT period: the first one within 12 months of the STEM OPT start date and a second, concluding evaluation at the end of your STEM OPT period and/or at the conclusion of any job. Evaluations must be submitted within 10 days of the reporting period or end of employment.
To complete these self-evaluations, you must specify the evaluation date range (i.e., the timeline considered during the evaluation) and:
- Assess your overall performance using the measures identified in the agreed upon training plan.
- Evaluate your success in applying and acquiring the new knowledge, skills and competencies that were previously identified in the plan.
- Discuss accomplishments, successful projects, overall contributions, etc. that occurred during the specified review period.
- Address whether there are any modifications to the objectives and goals for projects or new areas for skill and competency development.
After the student signs a completed evaluation, the employer must show concurrence with the assessment information that the student has entered. To do this, the employer's Official with Signatory Authority must sign, print name and enter the date of signature on the evaluation form. Please review the I-983 Instructions for further guidance on completing the required STEM evaluations.
For the first self-evaluation, please complete the first portion on page 5 of the I-983 Training Plan and submit the entire Training Plan along with your validation reporting.
For the second and final self-evaluation, please complete the second portion of page 5 of the I-983 Training Plan. All pages of the I-983 should be submitted along with your final validation report. NOTE: The final evaluation should encompass the complete training period and the end date of the evaluation should therefore match your final day of employment.
The employer must notify the Davis IC when the student's employment is terminated for any reason before the end of the authorized STEM OPT extension period. The employer must report such a change in employment no later than five (5) business days after the student's employment terminates. If needed, employers should seek guidance about this from their legal counsel, immigration attorney or directly from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Yes, you may change employers provided the new job meets program requirements and the new employer is registered and participating in E-Verify.
If you change jobs while working on a 24-month STEM OPT extension, you must prepare and submit the following through Docuport:
- New Form I-983 Training Plan completed by you and your employer as well as the STEM OPT Information Sheet to the Davis IC within 10 days of starting the new job.
- You must also submit a final evaluation (found on page 5 of the I-983) for the job you are leaving within 10 days of end date in addition to the unemployment form. When you submit the final evaluation, please submit completed pages 1-4 of the I-983 from your previous employer along with it.
The Davis IC will issue a new I-20 for these updates. Please allow 10 business days for the processing of your new I-983 and issuance of a new I-20.
The 24-month STEM OPT period is limited to certain employers and employment opportunities, as follows:
- Your STEM OPT employer must have an Employment Identification Number (EIN).
- Your STEM OPT employer must be enrolled in and using the E-Verify program at your STEM OPT worksite.
- The employment opportunity must be directly related to your qualifying STEM degree.
- There must be an employer-employee relationship between you and your employer. For this reason, self-employment and employment with staffing or temporary agencies likely will not qualify. Please see the FAQs below for more information.
- Volunteer or unpaid employment will not qualify.
- You may work concurrently for multiple employers during the STEM OPT period only if you work at least 20 hours per week for EACH employer, and each employer also meets all of the above criteria.
- The USCIS website states that “STEM OPT participants may engage in a training experience that takes place at a site other than the employer’s principal place of business as long as all of the training obligations are met, including that the employer has and maintains a bona fide employer-employee relationship with the student.” Therefore, if you have a training opportunity that involves working off-site or from home, please talk with your employer to determine if this is permissible. Employers may wish to consult with their Office of General Counsel.
No, a student seeking a STEM OPT extension is not allowed to use volunteer opportunity as a basis for a STEM OPT extension. Students are prohibited from using the STEM OPT to work in a volunteer capacity.
No, self-employment is not eligible for a STEM OPT Extension. The regulations require that a student must have a bona fide employer-employee relationship with an employer to obtain a STEM OPT extension. While the student is eligible to be employed by a start-up business, all regulatory requirements must be met and the student may not provide employer attestations on their own behalf.
The USCIS website states, "Staffing and temporary agencies and consulting firms may seek to employ students under the STEM OPT program, but only if they will be the entity that provides the practical training experience to the student and they have and maintain a bona fide employer-employee relationship with the student. STEM OPT participants may engage in a training experience that takes place at a site other than the employer’s principal place of business as long as all of the training obligations are met, including that the employer has and maintains a bona fide employer-employee relationship with the student." You will need to talk with your employer to determine if your employment meets this criteria. They may wish to consult with their Office of General Counsel.
Yes. The Department of Homeland Security has the authority to visit your STEM OPT worksite to make sure that you and your employer are meeting program requirements. Site visits may include interviews with you and your supervisor and a review of your training plan and other documentation.
In general, the DHS will give your employer 48 hours notice in advance of a site visit but could make an unannounced visit if there is a complaint or other evidence of noncompliance with program rules.
You are not required to remain continuously employed during your STEM OPT period but there are limits to how long you may be unemployed. Your obligations will vary depending on whether you are in a 12-month initial OPT or 24-month OPT STEM extension:
- 12-month initial period of OPT: You may be unemployed for no more than 90 days during your initial period of OPT. You must report to the Davis IC Reporting Form if you experience any interruption or loss of employment.
- 24-month STEM OPT: You are permitted a maximum of 150 days for unemployment during your post-completion OPT period - 90 days during the initial 12-month OPT and an additional 60 days once you are approved for a 24-month STEM extension. You must report to the Davis IC Reporting Form within 10 days if you lose your job or leave it before the STEM OPT period ends.
Since you will remain in F-1 status under Princeton University visa sponsorship throughout your STEM OPT Period, you must adhere to the F-1 travel regulations for STEM OPT. When reentering the U.S., you must carry:
1) Valid passport with valid F-1 visa stamp (Canadians are exempt from the visa stamp requirement);
2) STEM OPT I-20 with travel signature dated within the past six months of the date of reentry;
3) Proof of work authorization in the form of your STEM OPT EAD card; and,
4) A letter from your STEM employer stating your job title, brief job description, employment start and end dates, and current salary.
Renewing the F-1 Visa on STEM OPT: If you need to renew your F-1 visa while traveling on STEM OPT - you should schedule an appointment with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate preferably in your home country to apply for a new F-1 visa in order to return to resume your STEM OPT employment. Please consult the U.S. Embassy/Consulate Website for further information when applying for a new visa. Students who need to apply for a new visa while traveling on STEM OPT are strongly advised to consult with their international student advisor and their employers BEFORE traveling.
IMPORTANT: It may be more difficult to obtain a new F-1 visa while on STEM OPT since the issue of non-immigrant intent and the intention to return home at the completion of the STEM OPT may be more difficult to prove once you have obtained a degree and are working in the U.S.
On August 8th, 2017, the U.S. Department of State issued a revised guidance to consular officers regarding the issuance of student visas, stressing that the officer must be "satisfied that applicant intends to depart the U.S. upon completion of the approved activity." The consular officers are instructed that they must refuse the visa if they are not satisfied that the applicant's present intent is to depart the U.S. at the conclusion of his/her study or OPT. If the consular officer determines that you have intention to abandon your home country and remain in the U.S., s/he will be required to deny your visa application.
We strongly advise all F-1 students on STEM OPT, but particularly those with expired F-1 visas, to exercise caution in choosing whether to travel. If you are asked to travel for business, you should ensure that your employer is aware of the risks. We also strongly advise you to consult with an immigration attorney regarding your risks in obtaining a new visa.
If you have applied for the STEM OPT extension, but you have not received the EAD card approval, you should be able to reenter the U.S. as long as your current period of OPT has NOT expired at the time of your reentry to the U.S.
However, if you have applied for the STEM OPT and have not yet received the EAD card approval, and your current OPT HAS EXPIRED, traveling abroad may be risky. Make sure to consult with your Davis IC advisor PRIOR to leaving the U.S. and PRIOR to finalizing your travel plans.
F-1 and J-1 Students
- Differences between F-1 and J-1 Status
- Maintaining Status
- On-campus Employment
- Travel Guidance
- Extension of I-20/DS-2019 Form
- Leave of Absence and Readmission
- Termination or Completion of Program
- Transfers To or From Another School
- Spouse and Family Visas
F-1 Students Only
J-1 Students Only