STEM OPT Extension

OPT Tutorial

Good news! As of May 10, 2016, Your STEM OPT may be extended for up to 24 months, with the option for a second 24 month extension. A summary of changes to the STEM OPT program is here.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) Tutorial

Questions about the OPT Stem Extension and changes to the program? Download our online tutorial presentation.

About the STEM OPT Extension: If you received your degree in certain STEM fields (as designated by the government), you may be eligible for a 24-month extension of Post-Completion OPT beyond your current 12-month OPT period. The 24-month STEM Extension OPT is approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). A comprehensive list of STEM majors is available here.

Please note the OISS does not make the determination about what degrees are eligible. The Department of Homeland Security uses the Department of Education CIP code (printed on your I-20 after your major) to determine your eligibility. Eligible STEM fields fall within the two-digit series containing engineering (CIP code 14), biological sciences (CIP code 26), mathematics (CIP code 27), physical sciences (CIP code 40) or a related field.

Student Responsibilities

  1. Report any changes to name, residential/mailing address, employer name and address.
  2. Report/confirm employment every 6 months
  3. Report any periods of unemployment
  4. Complete annual self-evaluation about the progress of the training experience
  5. Student and employer must complete Form I-983 Training Plan and update as soon as any material changes to employment take place
  6. Submit new Form I-983 within 10 days of starting new employment at a different STEM OPT-eligible employer
  7. Report employer/training noncompliance to ICE/DHS

NOTE: Students on post-completion OPT may not accrue more than 90 days of unemployment under the initial 12-month period of OPT. Students granted a 24-month OPT extension may not accrue a total of more than 150 days of unemployment during the total 36-month OPT period.

Employer Responsibilities

  1. Must be registered in E-Verify
  2. Must agree to report any termination or change in employment to DSO within 5 business days of the change
  3. Must implement formal training program
    • Provide training that is commensurate with those of U.S workers in duties, hours, and compensation (as does not displace U.S. workers)
    • Student and employer must complete Form I-983 Training Plan and update as soon as any material changes to employment take place
    • Must review and sign student’s annual self-evaluation

Application Process

  1. Once you are within 90 days of the expiration date of your current OPT, you may submit your STEM OPT application to OISS.
  2. Complete all the items on the STEM OPT Extension Request Form.
  3. Make an appointment with an advisor at OISS and bring (or email, if you are outside of Santa Barbara) all the materials listed on the checklist. 
  4. OISS will issue a new I-20 recommending the STEM OPT extension starting on the day following the expiration of your current EAD and ending 24 months later.
  5. OISS will contact you when your completed OPT packet is ready to be picked up at our front desk. 
  6. You are responsible for mailing the complete packet to USCIS.
  7. There is a charge a $300 processing fee for STEM OPT Extensions. Pay your application fee here.

Please note that the USCIS will not process an OPT application that is incomplete and will request that you submit the missing documents or information.  This will delay the issuance of your OPT authorization.