Apply for OPT STEM Extension
Students with degrees in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are eligible for an additional 24 months of work authorization after the completion of the first 12 months of their Optional Practical Training (OPT). STEM Extension requests must be filed before the expiration of the 12 month OPT period. Students who file a timely application are permitted to continue employment while the extension application is pending until a final decision is made or for an additional 180 days, whichever comes first. The earliest a student may apply for a STEM Extension is 90 days before the expiration of their 12 months of OPT.
Students interested in applying for the STEM Extension please read thoroughly and carefully the information provided below before contacting the International Services Office.
Students must submit the following documents to the International Services Office to request an I-20 reflecting a STEM Extension request:
2. Copy of completed Form I-983
- Instructions for filling out a Form I-983 can be found here: Official Government Tutorial Here (Do not fill out the self-evaluation section on pages 6 & 7)
3. Copy of completed Form I-765
4. Copy of current EAD card
5. Copy of Offer Letter (dated within the last 4 months)
Please email all items as PDFs in a signal email to ISO@newhaven.edu. It will take five business days to process your I-20, and the DSO will reach out to you with any additional questions they may have.
Completing your application packet:
In the following order (from top to bottom) you will need to collect and arrange the following documentation.
- A check or money order for $410 made payable to the "U.S. Department of Homeland Security"
- Two (2) recent Passport size photographs with your name and I-94 number printed on the back
- Completed G-1145
- Completed I-765
- Copy of your new I-20 with your STEM Extension request on page 2, signed and dated. (Do not send the original!)
- Copies of ALL previous I-20's issued to you from the University of New Haven
- Copy of your current EAD card (OPT Card)
- Copy of an offer letter (dated within the last 4 months)
- Copy of passport
- Copy of your visa
- I-94 number (found here)
- Sealed, official transcripts from the University of New Haven
- Copy of diploma
Changing Jobs on STEM OPT
While your STEM OPT application is processing, you cannot change jobs until you receive your new STEM EAD card. Changing jobs before receiving your new STEM EAD card can result in termination of your work authorization.
If a student wishes to change employer once they have been authorized for STEM OPT and received their EAD card, they must complete the following:
- Submit the STEM OPT Employment Information Form
- Upload the new offer letter
- Upload the EAD card
ADDITIONALLY, students on STEM OPT who are changing jobs must upload the following two documents on the same STEM OPT Employment Information Form as above:
- New Form I-983 completed with the new employer
- Copy of "Final Evaluation On Student Progress" found on pg. 5 of the Form I-983 completed by the previous employer.
Reporting on STEM OPT
Students on STEM OPT are required to report every six months. The SEVP Portal will remind you when to report, but it is ultimately your responsibility to report on time. Failure to report these changes in a timely manner can result in the termination of your work authorization period and may result in ineligibility for further work authorization applications.
- 6-Month Report: Submit the STEM OPT Employment Update Form, with an upload of your STEM EAD card and your offer letter. You must submit the form even if there are no changes.
- 12-Month Report/Annual Self-Evaluation: Fill out the first part ("Evaluation of Student Progress") on page 5 of the Form I-983 and have your supervisor sign it. Email it to email@example.com.
- 18-Month Report: Submit the STEM OPT Employment Update Form, with an upload of your STEM EAD card and your offer letter. You must submit the form even if there are no changes.
- 24-Month Report/Annual Self-Evaluation: Fill out the second part ("Final Evaluation On Student Progress”) on page 5 of the Form I-983 and have your supervisor sign it. Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once your application is in process you cannot change jobs until you receive your new STEM EAD card. Changing jobs before receiving your new STEM EAD card can result in termination of your work authorization.
Do not send your Form I-983 to USCIS with the rest of your documents. You will submit your Form I-983 to the University and a DSO will upload the information to your SEVIS record.
The ISO is able to provide you with general guidance. However, any advice provided to you by our office does not constitute legal advice. Additionally, due to the fluid nature of governmental interpretation, the USCIS may change its interpretation of immigration policies, procedures, regulations, and eligibility requirements for benefits at any time. This office will do its best to provide you with the most current guidance, but please be mindful that each case is fact-specific and it is advised that you contact an experienced immigration attorney if you have questions regarding your situation.