U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Approved STEM Programs
The STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) extension is a 24-month period of temporary training that directly relates to an F-1 student’s program of study in an approved field.
Eligible F-1 students with STEM degrees who finish their program of study and participate in an initial period of regular post-completion OPT (often for 12-months) have the option to apply for a STEM OPT extension. Students may not apply for STEM OPT extensions during the 60-day grace period following an initial period of regular post-completion OPT.
Qualifications for a STEM OPT Extension
To qualify for a 24-month STEM OPT extension, an F-1 student participating in an initial period of regular post-completion OPT must:
- Have a degree in an eligible STEM field from a Student and Exchange Visitor Program-certified school that is accredited when the student submits their STEM OPT extension application to USCIS.
- Pursue their STEM OPT extension through an employer that is enrolled in USCIS’s E-Verify employment eligibility verification program.
- Select a STEM OPT employer that provides the student with formal training and learning objectives.
- Work a minimum of 20 hours per week per employer.