STEM OPT Eligibility

Eligibility for 24-Month STEM OPT Extension

You must:

  • Be maintaining valid F-1 status.
  • Be on a period of standard Post-Completion OPT.
  • Hold a degree in a field of study (indicated on the I-20) which qualifies as STEM eligible according to the official STEM Designated Degree Program List.
  • Have a job offer from an employer enrolled in E-Verify.
  • Demonstrate the job is directly related to a STEM field.
  • Confirm the job is paid.
  • Prepare and sign the Training Plan (Form I-983) together with your employer.
  • Apply before your current Post-Completion OPT expires.

Your employer must:

Eligibility for a Second Period of STEM OPT After Higher Degree

If you enroll in a new academic program in the U.S. in the future and earn another qualifying STEM degree at a higher educational level, you may be eligible for a second period of 24-month STEM OPT (i.e. two 24 month STEM OPT extensions may be permitted).

Example: If you receive a 24-month STEM OPT extension based on your Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, and you later earn a Master’s degree in Computer Science or another STEM eligible field, you may apply for Post-Completion OPT, and then the additional 24-month STEM OPT extension based on your Master’s degree.

Eligibility Based on a Previously Obtained STEM Degree

If you are currently in a degree field (or on Post-Completion OPT from that degree) that is not identified as STEM eligible, but have previously earned a STEM eligible degree from an accredited U.S. higher education institution, you may be eligible to apply for a STEM OPT extension under certain conditions:

  • You must have received both degrees from currently accredited and SEVP-certified institutions.
  • Your previous degree must have been conferred less than 10 years ago at the time of STEM OPT application.
  • Your previous degree is assigned a STEM eligible code found on the STEM Designated Degree Program List at the time of STEM OPT application.
  • You haven't already received a STEM OPT extension based on this previous degree.
  • Your practical training opportunity is directly related to your previously obtained STEM degree.
  • Your employer meets the criteria listed above.

Example: If you are currently participating in Post-Completion OPT based on a Master’s degree in Business and Management, but you previously received a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics, you may be able to apply for a STEM OPT extension based on your Bachelor’s degree in Applied Mathematics as long as you meet all the criteria above.