Recipients of a Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral degree in a field listed among the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) STEM-Designated Degree Program List, and who are currently on post-completion F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) may be eligible to apply for a STEM OPT Extension.
The DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List is organized based on CIP Codes. F-1 Students can find their current program CIP code in the Program Information section on page 1 of the Form I-20.
In order to assist students in understanding their eligibility for STEM OPT Extension, please click the link that applies to your current status:
Based on an August 12, 2015 federal court ruling on a lawsuit challenging the validity of the STEM OPT program and subsequent rulings, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was given until May 10, 2016 to complete new STEM OPT rulemaking in order to continue the STEM OPT Program beyond May 10, 2016.
Updates on STEM OPT Proposed Rule:
This is a pdf copy of the ISO STEM OPT Extension powerpoint presentation given by the ISO at MIT. This presentation includes detailed explainations of MIT's implementation of the STEM OPT rule, eligibility scenarios for STEM OPT extensions based on prior degrees, and USCIS application filing tips.
This list of questions and answers will be updated regularly as the ISO receives more questions from students and alumni and clarifications from the Department of Homeland Security.
Q: I am currently working on post-completion OPT, authorized after a non-STEM degree, but I have earned a previous STEM degree from a US institution. If I am eligible to apply for a STEM OPT Extension based on the previous STEM degree, can I continue working in my current job?
A: Given the limited guidance provided by DHS, if you did not apply for STEM OPT Extension based on the earlier earned STEM degree, you may be eligible to apply for a new STEM OPT Extension based on that previous STEM degree. However, the job you are pursuing must be directly related to the STEM degree. If your current job is not related to the STEM degree, you may apply for the STEM OPT Extension if you change to a new position which is directly related to your current degree and your previous STEM degree.
Q: I am applying for STEM OPT Extension and I need to travel outside of the U.S. Can I travel outside the US while the STEM OPT Extension is pending?
A: Based on the processing times and current DHS guidance, we recommend that a student not travel while the STEM OPT Extension application is pending.
If a student’s current EAD card expires while the STEM OPT Extension application is still pending, a student can continue to work under the terms of the authorized OPT while he/she is waiting for its approval.
While a student can travel while the current OPT Employment Authorization (EAD) card is still valid, if your current EAD card has expired you should NOT leave the US as you will need the new EAD card for the approved STEM OPT Extension in order to re-enter the US and, if needed, apply for a new F-1 entry visa stamp at the US Consulate while abroad in order to re-enter the US..