The 24-month STEM Extension for OPT (Optional Practical Training) allows students in qualifying fields with an eligible CIP code on their I-20, and with employment through an E-Verify employer, to request an additional two years of U.S. work authorization in their field of study following their first year of OPT.

Find current information on the STEM Extension from USCIS and check the DHS list of STEM Majors and E-Verify employers.

Eligibility Requirements

  • You must be in lawful F-1 status
  • You must have graduated from Davidson with one of the STEM-eligible majors and CIP codes listed below
  • Your OPT cannot have ended already
  • You must have an employer that is enrolled in E-Verify
  • Your employer must guarantee that you can work a minimum of 20 hours per week
  • Your employer must work with you to complete  a Form I-983 STEM Training Plan

Determining Your CIP Code

All I-20s show a 6-digit CIP code on the first page. To be eligible for the STEM OPT extension, a student's I-20 must show a STEM designated CIP code in major 1 or major 2 field. The following are STEM majors at Davidson College:

  • 26.0101 Biology/Biological Sciences
  • 40.0501 Chemistry
  • 11.0701 Computer Science
  • 45.0603 Economics
  • 03.0103 Environmental Studies
  • 26.0807 Genome Sciences/Genomics
  • 27.0101 Mathematics
  • 40.0801 Physics
  • 42.2799 Psychology

Please note that if your major is Interdisciplinary Studies, regardless of how much STEM-related education the program provides, it might not be classified as a STEM-eligible major available for the STEM OPT extension. 

Eligibility for the STEM OPT extension is not determined by whether students receive a B.A. or B.S. but rather by the specific CIP code for their major as maintained by the Davidson Registrar. If a student wants to know the particular CIP assigned to a major, they should contact the Registrar. If an Interdisciplinary Studies student wants to know the CIP code for an Interdisciplinary Studies major, they should contact the program chair in Interdisciplinary Studies.

Steps to Request STEM OPT Extension

Step 1: Prepare the I-983

Complete pages 1-4 of the Form I-983 STEM Training Plan in partnership with your employer. See tips below:

  • In section five, the site name should be your employer’s name and the site address should be your physical place of employment. If you work remotely, indicate your home address in this section. 
  • Do NOT add anything to page 5.
  • Digital signatures are acceptable.
  • Your start date must be the date immediately following your OPT end date.

Step 2: Gather materials and begin USCIS application

Prepare the bulleted items, which are required by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as part of the OPT application:

  • Create a USCIS account (if you have not already) 
  • Form I-765  
    • The online form is the digital version of the I-765.
    • The following instructions will help you complete the online form. 
      • Select 1.c to indicate that you are renewing your work authorization
      • For question 8, find your Alien Registration Number (or A number) on your OPT EAD. 
      • Use code (c)(3)(c) to indicate that you are applying for the STEM extension
      • On question 28a, list your Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree
      • Many students confuse E-Verify number with Employer Identification Number (EIN) that they enter on their Form I-983. E-Verify and EIN are not the same number! Make sure you obtain a correct E-Verify number from your employer before you fill out this form. 
  • $470 to be paid online by debit/credit card
    • Fees are subject to change. Verify the current fee via USCIS.
  • A color passport-style photograph
  • Copy of your current and previously issued EAD(s) (front and back)
  • Copy of diploma and/or transcripts 
    • This should clearly show graduation in a STEM field. If diploma does not list your field/major, you must include transcripts. Unofficial transcripts are fine.
  • Copy of most recent I-94 record
  • (Optional) Copy of an offer or employment verification letter 
    • From a qualified E-Verify Employer indicating job title, job description, and work location.

Step 3: Contact International Student Programs (ISP) 90 days before your current EAD expires to request an updated I-20 recommending you for the STEM extension

Verify your current employer and address are correct in the SEVP portal. Your employer must participate in E-Verify and your work must be directly related to your field of study. After you have completed this, email the following to an ISP advisor:

  • Pages 1-4 of a fully completed I-983 training plan (see this I-983 guide for tips) (required)
  • A copy of your current passport (required)
  • A copy of your EAD card (front and back) (required)
  • A copy of your most recent I-94 record (required)
  • A copy of the draft I-765 (required)

An advisor will be able to create a new I-20 with STEM recommendation and email it to you. Print and hand sign your I-20 before photocopying. It must be submitted to USCIS within 60 days of issuance. Keep the original I-20 for your records.

Please note that your STEM application is NOT complete until you have submitted all required materials to USCIS. All materials must be submitted to USCIS before your OPT expires

You are welcome to schedule an appointment with an ISP advisor to review the STEM extension application. When you come for the appointment you are expected to have all of the above items (review Step 2) so that ISP can review the material that is otherwise ready to be submitted to USCIS.

Step 4: Submit the USCIS application and payment

You must submit these to USCIS within 60 days of ISP recommending you for OPT.

  1. Log back into your USCIS account.
  2. Make any necessary changes after receiving feedback from an ISP advisor.
  3. Submit the application and make the payment. Your application has not been submitted until you have completed the payment.

Step 5: Wait

It will generally take USCIS at least 90 days to process the STEM extension application and there is no way to expedite the process. However, as long as you receive your filing receipt from USCIS prior to the expiration of your EAD, you may continue working for up to 180 days until your new EAD is approved or denied. Check your mail frequently throughout the application process so that you can timely respond to any Requests for Evidence (RFEs).

Step 6: Maintain your Legal F-1 Status During the STEM Extension

Remember that throughout the entirety of your OPT, your legal immigration status is F-1. If you need to renew your visa, it would be an F-1 visa for which you apply; you must maintain a valid travel signature on your I-20 within 6 months of travel if you are traveling internationally.

Keep your SEVP Portal active throughout your STEM Extension.  While on OPT, students are required to report any of the following within 10 days:

  • A change in name or residential address
  • The name and address of your employer. If you have more than one employer, you must provide each employer's name and address. 
    • A new I-983 is also required for each employer
  • Any material changes to your employment
    • Email the I-983 to ISP with any changes to your job duties
  • End date if you end your employment. 
    • The final evaluation on section 5 of the I-983 is also required if you leave an employer. Email the final evaluation to ISP.
  • Any period(s) of unemployment, including those days between the end of one job and the beginning of the new job
  • If you decide to cease STEM OPT and depart the U.S., report to ISP
  • If you change to another immigration status in the U.S., report to ISP


Complete Employment Verification Every 6 Months

Throughout your STEM Extension, you are required to check in with ISP every 6 months. This deadline is calculated based on your EAD, so mark your calendar and be proactive in completing each required check-in.

Six Month Verification

  • Verify that your employer name, employer address and your own address are correct in the SEVP Portal. Then email your ISP advisor to indicate that your information is still correct in the Portal.

12-month Evaluation

18-month Verification

  • Verify that your employer name, employer address and your own address are correct in the SEVP Portal. Then email your ISP advisor to indicate that your information is still correct in the Portal.

24-month Evaluation