This page is a guide to students apply for the STEM OPT extension benefit and will walk you through the ISSO I-20 request, the USCIS petition, assistance with the I-765 and the I-983 as well as information on fees and filing locations. The information on this page should be read in its entirety, top to bottom, and throughly. This webpage should answer all of your questions regarding your submission. The STEM OPT benefit is available to students in STEM eligible fields. You should look on your I-20 at the code next to your major under Program of Study.
How to Request a STEM OPT I-20 from the ISSO
To request the STEM OPT I-20 from the ISSO you will subit an electronic request. You should:
- Go to STEM OPT I-20 request link
- Review the Questions
- Gather any missing/unknown information for form completion
- Upload the carefully reviwed, completed I-983 with required signatures
- Upload your current EAD card
- Review the Attestations and submit
Within 5-business days and advisor will review your submission, contact you with any follow-up questions, and process your STEM OPT I-20.
Receiving Your STEM OPT I-20.
You may pick up your STEM OPT I-20 from Monday to Friday from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. If you are not local, you may have a friend pick up and mail to you if you sign off on the 3rd part pick up permission form. You may also submit a request to have it mailed to you via US Postal Service. Please send a pre-addressed envelope with pre-paid postage stamp.
Checklist of Items to Send USCIS in STEM OPT Packet
After you receive your STEM OPT I-20 from the ISSO, you will assemble your USICS peition. Please be sure to include:
- completed Form I-765
- copies of all previous I-20s for your current degree level
- Check/Money Order payable to "Department of Homeland Security" for current fee - see filing fee
- Form G-1145 with name, email, and mobile phone to get a receipt for filing - form downloaded here.
- Two US passport-style photos with name written on back in pencil
- Copy of front & back of your current EAD card
- Copy of new STEM OPT endorsed I-20 with STEM recommendation
- Evidenc of your degree - either a cop of the diploma or official transcripts from the Registra's office
- Your most recent I-94 admissions record indicating F-1 entry.
- Copy of your US visa stamp
- Copy of your passport ID page
- Make sure your I-20 is signed
Mailing your STEM OPT Packet and Checking the Status of your Case
Once you have assembled your packet you will locate your filing location depending on the state you are currently residing in. Once submitted, in approximatly two weeks you will get an email and text from the USICS lockbox facility with a receipt number. You may use that receipt number to check the status of your case online. You may also call the USCIS National Customer Service Center or make an appointment with the local USCIS Field Office in the JFK Building in Government Center.
You should keep a copy of the entire packet for your records.
Tips on the I-765
You will be fairly familiar with the I-765, as you previoulsy filled this out for your initial OPT request. A few tips:
- Remember you are applying for "Renewal" of employment authorization
- Item #15: Have you applied for work authorization before (item 15). The answer is yes, as you have an approved EAD. If your I-797 receipt states and office with "Y" (mostly likely), it's Potomac Service Center. Date should be the start date of your current EAD.
- item #20: c3c is the eligiblity code
Tips on the I-983
All questions about the I-983 are answered on the Study in the States I-983 webpage. After thoroughly reading that page, you should have no questions. Here is a checklist of what to do when completing the form:
- Download the Form I-983
- The I-983 should be completed BY YOUR EMPLOYER, not you.
- Review the priint out of the I-983 Instructions
- Review the interactive tutorial that reviews every section on the form if there are uncertainties about any fields on the form.
- You DO NOT complete page 5 on the progress evaluation (midway through internship) or final evaluation (at end of internship) at the start of your internship
- Make sure you review everything with your employer for accuracy
Understanding Your STEM I-20
The STEM I-20 indicates periods of time when you have employment authorization in the US. It is not a resume. Dates of the various jobs help will not be reflected on the I-20. Rather periods of employment will be reflected on the I-20. You may have various employers and your pay stubs and emplolyment letters from your employer are the definitive record of your emploment with any company.
Changing an Employer while a STEM OPT Extension is Pending
Students can change employers while a STEM application is pending, as long as the new Employer is an E-Verify Employer. Students should:
- report the new employer to the ISSO and provide a new I-983
- submit to USCIS an amended I-765 that includes the new E-Verify number of the new employer
- submit to USCIS a copy of the I-797 receipt notice for the first USCIS application
- a brief cover letter explaining the situation