STEM Optional Practical Training Form

Instructions to complete the form

  1. After reading the information on these pages, please fill out Page 3 and gather all supporting documents outlined on the checklist.
  2. Submit these documents to ISSS either at the front desk in Laurel Hall, by mail to 1024 Campus Delivery Fort Collins CO 80523, or by email to isss@colostate.edu . After ISSS has reviewed your application, we will create a new I-20 recommending you for OPT. We will email you when your packet with the new I-20 is ready, at which point you can pick it up or pay for us to ship it to you. You will be responsible for mailing your application to USCIS.

Tips

What is the 24-month OPT STEM extension?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a period of temporary training that is directly related to an F-1 student’s program of study. F-1 students who completed a program of study in an approved STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) field are eligible to apply for a 24-month extension of post-completion OPT.

Who is eligible for the 24-month OPT STEM extension?

You are eligible for the 24-month OPT STEM extension if you meet all of the following criteria:

  • You are currently participating in approved post-completion OPT and have maintained your F-1 immigration status throughout your post-completion OPT period
  • You have earned a degree in a program of study that is included on the STEM list
  • Your STEM OPT employer is enrolled in USCIS’s E-Verify employment eligibility verification program
  • Your STEM OPT employer has provided you with formal training and learning objectives
  • You have not been approved for 2 previous OPT STEM extensions

When can I apply for the 24-month OPT STEM extension?

  • You can apply for the STEM extension up to 90 days before the expiration date of your post-completion OPT
  • Your application for the STEM extension must be received by USCIS prior to the expiration date of your post-completion OPT
  • As long as your 24-month STEM extension application is received by USCIS prior the expiration date of your post-completion OPT, you can continue working for up to 180 days while your STEM extension application is pending
  • Keep in mind that you may not be permitted to renew your driver’s license while your OPT STEM extension is pending, so consider applying as early as possible if your license will expire when your OPT expires

What do I need to do to maintain my F-1 immigration status during the 24-month OPT STEM extension?

  • You must work at least 20 hours per week in a paid position directly related to your field of study
  • You cannot be unemployed for longer than 150 days during your total period of OPT (this includes up to 90 days during regular post-completion OPT and up to an additional 60 days during the STEM extension)
  • You must submit an OPT reporting form to ISSS every six months or within 10 days of any changes to any of the following: legal name, residential or mailing address, employer name, employer address, and/or loss of employment
  • You must complete the “Evaluation of Student Progress” portion of the Form I-983 and submit it to ISSS within 12 months of your OPT STEM start date
  • You must complete the “Final Evaluation of Student Progress” portion of the Form I-983 and submit it to ISSS at the end of your OPT STEM extension
  • If you change jobs, you must submit a new Form I-983 (signed by your new employer) to ISSS within 10 days
  • If you travel outside of the United States during your OPT STEM extension, you need to take your I-20 (with a recent travel signature from an ISSS advisor), your passport, a valid F-1 visa, your EAD card, and a letter from your employer

What are my employer’s responsibilities?

  • Your employer must be enrolled and in good standing with E-Verify
  • Your employer must work with you to complete and certify Section 3 of the Form I-983 before you apply for the OPT STEM extension
  • Your employer must review and sign your 12-month self-evaluation and your final evaluation before you submit them to ISSS
  • Your employer must work with you to report any material changes to your formal training plan by submitting a new Form I-983 to ISSS
  • If you lose your job, your employer must report the loss of employment to ISSS within 10 days
  • Your employer must provide you with a training opportunity that is commensurate with those of similarly situated U.S. workers in duties, hours, and compensation. Please encourage your employer to view the employer section of the Study in the States OPT STEM Hub.

What is the Form I-983?

The Training Plan for STEM OPT Students, or Form I-983, outlines the mentoring, training, and evaluation plan you will follow during your practical training period. The form needs to include information about how the practical training experience is directly related to your STEM program of study.

Am I eligible for a 24-month OPT STEM extension for a previously-earned degree that is not the basis of my current post-completion OPT authorization?

Yes, if your previously-earned degree was:

  • in an approved STEM major,
  • the degree was earned within the past 10 years, and
  • you have not already done an OPT STEM extension for that degree.
  • You may be eligible for a 24-month STEM extension for a previous degree even if you were not in F-1 status at the time you earned that degree. Please see an international student advisor for more information.

Am I eligible for a 24-month OPT STEM extension if I have not completed my thesis/dissertation?

Yes. If you have completed all degree requirements except a thesis or dissertation, you are eligible for the OPT STEM extension. You will need to obtain a letter from the CSU Registrar confirming that you have met all coursework requirements for your degree.