STEM OPT Extension

STEM OPT Extension Application Process

Students who have earned degrees in certain science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields may apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion OPT employment authorization if they:

  • Are an F-1 student who received a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degree included on the STEM Designated Degree Program List (PDF),
  • Are employed by an employer enrolled in E-Verify, and
  • Received an initial grant of post-completion OPT employment authorization based on their STEM degree.

To apply for an extension, you must properly file following the instructions listed in our STEM OPT Canvas course (request access to this course HERE!). You can schedule an appointment with your advisor if you would like assistance applying for your STEM extension. 

STEM Extension Validation Reporting

During the STEM OPT Extension period, students must make a 6, 12, and 18 month validation report that confirms the student's name, address, employer, and employment status are correct. Students can validate this using their access to their SEVP portal, or they can contact their immigration advisor to confirm this validation report for them.

STEM Extension Self-Evaluations

Students must report the progress they have made toward the training goals outlined on the Form I-983 (Training Plan) that was originally submitted to the ISC. The student should create the self evaluation, have their supervisor confirm and sign each self-evaluation, then submit the self-evaluation page to the ISC.

  • First assessment should be submitted within the first 12 months of STEM OPT start date
  • Final assessment should be submitted no later than 10 days after their employment end date

If the student changes employers, they should still submit their final assessment within 10 days of the end of their employment with the current employer. Then, they will need to fill out a new I-983 (Training Plan) with their new employer and submit it to the ISC.

Unemployment during the OPT period

The law allows you to be unemployed during your OPT period for a limited number of days.

If you received... You may be unemployed for... For a total of...
(during OPT period)
Initial Post-Completion OPT Up to 90 days 90 days
24-month STEM Extension An additional 60 days 150 days

Replacement EAD

If your EAD is lost, stolen or destroyed, you may request a replacement EAD by filing a new Form I-765 and filing fee (if required), unless a fee waiver is requested and approved.  If you did not receive an EAD that USCIS mailed, you can submit an inquiry on non-delivery of a card.

If your EAD contains incorrect information that is not due to a USCIS error, you must submit:

  • A new Form I-765,
  • The filing fee, if required (or a request for a fee waiver),
  • Any documents specified in the form instructions, and
  • The card containing the error.

If your EAD contains incorrect information because of a USCIS error, we will make the appropriate correction at no additional cost to you. In these cases, you do not need to submit a new Form I-765 or a filing fee. Instead, you must submit:

  • The original card containing the error,
  • A detailed explanation of the card error, and
  • Supporting documentation on the correct information.

Submit this information to the service center or National Benefit Center that approved your latest Form I-765.

In either case, if we receive your application or request for a replacement EAD and you no longer have any basis for applying for an EAD or employment authorization, we will not return the card and will notify you that you do not have a current basis for applying for an EAD or employment authorization.

Please note, dependents of certain foreign governments, international organizations, and NATO personnel are not required to pay a fee for a replacement EAD.

Note: If you have questions regarding a pending application for an EAD or employment authorization, please see our website for information on when and how to contact USCIS. You can also contact the ISC office to ask any questions you might have about a lost EAD card.

Cap-gap Extension for F-1 Students with Approved H-1B Petitions

If you are an F-1 student with a timely filed H-1B petition and change of status request, and your F-1 status and employment authorization will expire before the change of status to H-1B occurs (typically October 1), you may be eligible for a cap-gap extension. Go to our USCIS Cap-Gap Extension page for more information.


You cannot apply for a STEM OPT Extension if:

  • You entered the U.S. on an F-1 visa, but did not follow such regulations as completing a full course-load each quarter, or keeping your documents valid.
  • You have worked without permission in the United States.
  • You do not have a degree in a designated STEM field
  • Your employer is not enrolled in E-verify, or they are unwilling to enroll 

More Information

For more information about the OPT process, please request access to our STEM OPT Extension Canvas course. Then, if you have any further questions about practical training, contact the International Student Center at (206) 296-6260 or The USCIS website also provides a wide range of information about OPT, EAD, and other immigration questions.

If you would like assistance with resume writing, interview skills, or other job search strategies, please contact the Career Engagement Office or the Albers Placement Center (for Albers students).