STEM OPT Extension
International students at Alcorn State University approved for post-completion OPT may be considered for approval of STEM OPT for an additional 24 months. If a student earned a degree in a field that appears on the U.S. government’s official list of STEM fields, he/she may be eligible for the 24-month OPT extension. In order to verify a student’s degree is on the list, refer to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security STEM Designated Degree Programs list.
Eligibility Criteria for the 24-month OPT extension (All four criteria below must be met to be eligible)
- Students who have already been approved for 12 months of post-completion OPT; and
- Who have earned a bachelor’s or higher degree in a field included on the U.S. Government's list of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields within the last 10 years; and
- Who are employed in a paid job directly related to his/her field of study; and
- Who are working for an employer that is enrolled in the U.S. Government's E-Verify program.
Students interested in applying for the OPT extension should follow the following steps.
Download, complete, sign and submit the Form I-983 to the DSO for International Student Services in the Office of Graduate Studies. Students should follow the guidance in the regulations set forth for Form I-983 instructions .
Form I-983 must be completed by the student and the prospective employer working together cooperatively to complete the form.
The student completes Section I of the Form I-983. Use information from your I-20 to list the school code and student SEVIS ID; the employer completes Sections 2-6. For more information about these sections, please visit the Employers and the Form I-983 resource page . STEM OPT students are also responsible for completing annual self-evaluations.
Complete STEM OPT Extension I-20 Request Form. Make sure you document the time period for which you are applying to be authorized to work on STEM OPT. The start date should be the day after your current 12-month OPT ends.
Submit the STEM OPT Application and Form I-983 to the Graduate Office. The DSO will keep these forms on file.
Form I-983 and the STEM OPT Extension Application will be reviewed and a new I-20 generated if application is approved for STEM OPT extension.
For more information about applying for STEM OPT, please visit the USCIS website .
Evaluation of Student Progress
The student must complete the first “Evaluation of Student Progress” portion of the Form I-983 within 12 months of the listed STEM OPT start date. At the end of the STEM OPT extension, a student must conduct a second, final assessment. Once the evaluations are complete, the student must collect signatures from their employer and return the form to the DSO, who will keep it in the student’s physical student record.
Extension Application Checklist
Items to be submitted to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
The Center for International Programs has updated your I-20 reflecting our support of your petition to file for OPT STEM Extension. It is your responsibility to complete the required application and submit it in a timely manner to USCIS.
Assemble application materials in the order indicated below. Please paperclip check and passport photos on top.
STEP 1: Documents needed for Recommendation from DSO for new I-20
STEM OPT Extension I-20 Request Form
Copy of original, signed Form I-765: Typed, not handwritten
Completed Form I-983
Employer Job Offer Letter for STEM OPT Extension
Copy of EAD for current period of post-completion OPT
Copy of diploma or transcript showing STEM Program of Study
STEP 2: Documents needed for USCIS Application Checklist
check payable to
: U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Write your
SEVIS ID# on top of check or money order .
Copy of Original, signed Form I-765: Typed, not handwritten
Copy of currently issued EAD for OPT (Employment Authorization Document)
Photocopy of OPT STEM Extension I-20 pages 1 and 3 (the one with the STEM OPT
recommendation on it) , signed in black ink
· Photocopy of passport page with photo, passport number and expiration date (must be
valid for at least 6 months prior to application date)
· Evidence your degree meets the STEM degree/major requirements. Submit one of the following:
o copy of diploma showing degree level and program of study or
o official transcript showing posted degree and program of study
Two (2) U.S. style passport photos : Write your name on the back of each photo with pencil or felt-tip pen ( Do not use photos from your home country; Passport photos must be 2” x 2” with proper facial dimensions of U.S. style passport photos.
Make copies of the entire application for your records and mail by certified U.S. mail. Application must be received by USCIS within 30 days of the date that appears on page 1 at item 10 (reflected on the signature line of your I-20).
Mail application to the USCIS Lockbox for the state you currently live in:
If you currently live in : Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania , Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands, or West Virginia
Mail your application to:
For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Deliveries :
P. O. Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266
For Express Mail and Courier Deliveries:
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Lewisville, TX 75067
REPORT REQUIREMENTS WHILE ON OPT STEM EXTENSION
All students on OPT are required to report to the DSO within 10 days of any change of:
Loss of employment
Students who file the STEM extension application in a timely manner will be able to continue employment until a final decision is made by USCIS or for 180 days, which ever is earlier.
The DSO advises students not to travel until STEM Extension application is approved and a new EAD card has been received.