STEM OPT Extension

F-1 students with degrees in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) may be eligible for an extension of their Post-Completion OPT work permission. The  Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published new expanded regulations which took effect on May 10, 2016. Before making any plans to be employed on STEM OPT please speak to your advisor in OISS. On the right-hand menu here you will see specific categories of information about STEM OPT.

 

What's Different in the new STEM OPT Rule?

  • May now be as long as 24 months instead of 17 months beyond the initial post-completion OPT period
  • Students may be eligible to have two STEM OPT extensions during their time in the U.S.
  • Students currently in a non-STEM degree can be eligible for a STEM OPT extension based on a previous STEM degree obtained in the U.S. from an accredited institution.
  • There is a new expanded list of STEM eligible CIP codes.
  • The student and employer will be required to use the new Form I-983
  • Additional reporting requirements (evaluation forms and an exit survey)
  • Employers must provide a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN).
  • DHS is permitted to conduct employer site visits to confirm that training plan goals are being met.
  • Volunteering is no longer permitted on the STEM OPT extension.
  • Students' compensation must be commensurate to similarly situated U.S. workers.
  • Self-employment is not permitted.
  • Small start-up companies: There appear to be ways for some to qualify as long as the employer has an FEIN,  student is considered an “employee” and a supervisor can complete the I-983.
  • Most temporary agency and contract work will not be eligible
  • During the STEM OPT extension you could have up to 150 days of unemployment time.