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STEM OPT Extension

The 24-month STEM OPT Extension requires that students:
  • Hold a current or previous U.S. degree (within the last 10 years) from a SEVP certified school that is in an eligible Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM) field
    • Review Eligible CIP Codes for the STEM OPT Extension. Your major’s CIP Code is located on the first page of your I-20 next to your major
  • Work for an employer enrolled in the E-Verify employment verification program
  • Work for an employer who can assist them in reaching your training goals
  • Pursue employment that is related to your STEM degree
  • Work in a paid position for a minimum of 20 hours per week per employer​
The employment must be:
  • At least 20 hours per week per each E-Verify employer
  • In a position related to the STEM degree
Department of Homeland Security performs site visits to employer locations of students on STEM OPT. We encourage you to read and share this site visit information with your employer.
24-month STEM Extension applications must be received at the appropriate USCIS Service Center prior to the end of your approved OPT period as indicated on your current 12-month OPT EAD card. Follow the instructions below in order

1) Download and complete the following forms (note: be sure to keep copies of all documents for your records)
  • Form I-983
  • Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization)
    • For Part 1, next to “I Am Applying For:”, check box 1.c. Renewal of my permission to accept employment.
    • The mailing address listed on page 2 should be an address where you want the EAD card mailed. Keep in mind your EAD card may be mailed in 3-5 months
    • For question 27 on pg. 3, use eligibility category c 3 C, with the first "c" lowercase and the second "C" uppercase
    • For question 28.a. on pg. 3, list both your degree level (BS or MS) and your major. Architecture majors may put "B. Architecture"
    • Complete Part 3 and provide your signature in black ink on page 5. The signature must fit within the signature box
    • Parts 4 & 5 only need to be completed if you had someone else help interpret or prepare the form for you
2) Submit to the International Center using the STEM OPT Extension Request Form:
  • A good quality scan of Form I-983 & I-765 with signatures
  • OPT STEM Reporting Agreement
  • Note: You will need to log in to the system with your Non-Cal Poly email. If you did not set up your login when your profile was converted to an external user account, email and request a password reset.
 3) Mail to USCIS (after receiving NEW I-20 from Int’l Center) Place documents in the following order:
  • Filing Fee of $410
    • Note: USCIS had planned a fee increase to $550 effective October 2nd, 2020. On September 29th, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California preliminarily enjoined DHS from implementing the fee change. Before making your payment, be sure to check USCIS's website for the current fee information.
    • Check/money order payable to the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”. An example of how to fill out a personal check can be found here
    • If paying by credit card (when filing at a lockbox facility) complete the G-1450 Form
  • G-1145 Form to receive electronic notification that your application has been received
  • Original signed Form I-765
  • Two passport-style photos
  • Copy of the New STEM extension I-20 (pg. 1 and 2) after you have signed and dated it
  • I-94 electronic copy - Use the Electronic I-94 Retrieval Form to access your most recent I-94
  • Passport Copies:
    • Photo Page
    • Most recent F-1 Visa -or- if you were a change of status, “F-1 Approval Notice”
    • Latest US Entry Stamp
  • A photocopy of any previous EAD cards including your current OPT EAD card
  • A copy of your latest Cal Poly diploma (for the degree on which your current OPT is based)

Mailing Instructions

  • You are responsible to mail your OPT application unless you have a lawyer filing it on your behalf. USCIS has provided these tips for filing appropriately. If you send your application by USPS certified mail, keep your receipt and the green postcard you will be mailed showing proof of delivery.  Express mail is an option (see third bullet) if needed to ensure your application is received prior to your current OPT end date on your EAD card. 
  • Regulations require that your application be received within 60 days from the date your OPT STEM extension I-20 is issued and received by USCIS before your current OPT expires. 
  • The address of where you will mail your application to will depend on which state you currently reside in. Use this USCIS webpage to determine which address to use. 
    • USCIS has recently updated their mailing instructions for OPT applications and these must now be mailed to the Chicago Lockbox:  
      U.S. Postal Service (USPS):
      PO Box 805373
      Chicago, IL 60680

      FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:
      Attn: I-765 C03
      131 South Dearborn - 3rd Floor
      Chicago, IL 60603-5517

Next Steps

  • A Receipt Notice will be sent within a few weeks after your application is received
  • You can follow-up on the status of your application after you receive your receipt notice. The receipt notice has a case number. Check the Online Case Status web page for the status of your application. If you sent in the G-1145 form, e-mail updates will be sent to you
  • Tips on how to track your EAD Card can be found on the USCIS website
  • Check current application processing times (select I-765 and Potomac Service Center)
  • If you receive a Request for Evidence notify the International Center immediately
  • The Employment Authorization Document (EAD) will be mailed to the address on your I-765
  • Notify USCIS if you need to change the address where you want your EAD to be sent
  • You are considered to be in legal status and authorized to work up to 180 days while your application to extend OPT is pending

Student Responsibilities

  • May continue to work for up to 180 days while your extension request is pending 
  • Do NOT have more than 150 days of unemployment during entire OPT period from the beginning of the initial OPT period to the end of the extension period  

Student Reporting Responsibilities 

  • Report to the International Center within 10 days of change to:
    • Legal name, email address, foreign, residential, or mailing address, employer, employer address, employment status, visa status
  • ​Report in the SEVP OPT Portal  within 10 days of changes to: ​Foreign, residential, or mailing address, or phone number
  • ​Report to Cal Poly the termination of an OPT assignment within 5 days of your last day with that employer
  • Submit OPT Validation every six months to validate your information.
Click the OPT Login link below to submit your validation every six months.
  1. Login with your non-Cal Poly email used for this site. If you do not remember your login, email and ask for a password reset for this site.
  2. On your User Home Page, select either your current STEM OPT Extension (F-M) application.
  3. Answer the appropriate validation questionnaire(s).
Ready to validate? Use this OPT Login​ link, then navigate to your STEM OPT Extension (F/M) application.
  • Submit a complete I-983 form with an annual self-evaluation to report to Cal Poly about the progress of the training experience. You must sign the self-evaluation prior to submitting it to Cal Poly.

Employer Responsibilities

  • Employers must work with you to report to Cal Poly any material changes to, or material deviations from your formal training plan, by filling out a new Form I-983
  • Employers will sign your I-983 self-evaluations
  • The employer must notify Cal Poly when your employment is terminated for any reason before the end of the authorized extension period. The employer must report such a change in employment to Cal Poly no later than five business days after your employment terminates or you have departed

Employer Non-Compliance

  • If a STEM OPT student believes that their STEM OPT employer is not complying with the terms and conditions of the 24-month STEM OPT extension regulations, the Form I-983 instructions, and the completed Form I-983 on file with their DSO, the student may:
    • Contact the Student and Exchange Visitor Program at the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by following the instructions found on
    • Report violations through this Homeland Security Investigations tip submission form 

Report Changes of Employment to Cal Poly:

If you decide to change employers, the new employer must be enrolled in E-Verify before you begin work. You must also submit a new Form I-983 to Cal Poly within 10 days of starting the new practical training opportunity
  • Use the OPT Employer Update Form to report a new employer, a new position with your existing employer, or a change of supervisor
  • Upload a new I-983 for the new job and a new I-983 (all pages) with the final evaluation on page 5 from your last job within the form
  • Email us right away at if you have issues with accessing this  portal and updating your OPT STEM information.
  • If you are reporting a change in address for your place of employment only, email this information to

Report Address Changes To SEVP:

STEM OPT Resources:


  • Both you and your employer are obligated to report to Cal Poly any material changes to, or material deviations from, your formal training plan ​
  • Please review the SEVP Portal Info for STEM OPT guide for instructions on how to report all reporting requirements noted above
  • Refer to the SEVP OPT Portal for your self-evaluation and reporting deadlines

  To travel while on STEM OPT, you must have:

  • OPT I-20 with a valid travel signature (located on page 2)
    • Although Form I-20 indicates a validity period of one year for travel signatures, visa regulations set a shorter validity period of 6 months for travel signatures on I-20s used by students on post-completion OPT
  • Letter from employer
  • Valid F-1 student visa (entry permit)
  • Valid passport
  • EAD card
  • Here is a grid showing levels of risk for traveling during different stages of OPT processing and employment