University of Wisconsin–Madison

F-1 OPT STEM Extension

The OPT STEM Extension is a twice-per-lifetime 24-month extension for eligible STEM majors who are currently in an authorized period of post-completion OPT.

The STEM degree (bachelor’s or higher) may have been earned at UW-Madison or may be based on a previously earned degree from an accredited U.S. college/university. Proof of degree conferral and proof of immigration status must be provided to ISS if the STEM Extension application is based on a previously earned degree.

  • OPT STEM Eligibility Requirements
    • Currently in an authorized period of post-completion OPT (unexpired EAD card)
    • Have a qualified STEM major
    • Secure employment or employment offer directly related to the qualified STEM major(s)
    • Employer must be in good standing with E-Verify
    • Training experience must be at least 20 hours per week
    • Employer and student together must complete the Form I-983 Training Plan
       – I-983 Instructions UW-Madison
       – Form I-983 Tutorial
    • Must file the STEM Extension application with USCIS no earlier than 90 days prior to current EAD card end date and absolutely no later than that date
  • OPT STEM Application Requirements
    •  Submit completed ISS OPT STEM Extension application form
       – Submit no earlier than 120 days prior to EAD card end date
       – Current EAD card must be uploaded as a PDF
       – Completed & signed Form I-983 must be uploaded as a PDF
    • Compile all documents required by USCIS
       – Form I-765 & Form I-765 Instructions
       – Form G-1145 E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance
    • Make a copy of the new OPT STEM Extension I-20 issued to you by ISS
       – Application packet must be received by USCIS within 60 days of the I-20 issuance date
    • Mail the completed OPT STEM Extension application to the proper USCIS office
    • Wait for USCIS processing (average of three months)
       – You are eligible to continue employment up to 180 days beyond the current EAD card end date, as long as you have proof of a pending OPT STEM Extension application with USCIS.
  • OPT STEM Application Timeframe

    U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has a strict application timeframe during which an OPT STEM Extension application must be received. Processing time may take approximately three months.

    • No earlier than 90 days prior to the current EAD card end date
    • No later than the current EAD card end date
    • Within 60 days of the new OPT STEM Extension I-20 issuance date
  • OPT STEM Reporting Requirements for Students

    You must update ISS with the information listed below at periodic times throughout your OPT STEM Extension employment period. Failure to do so is a violation of your F-1 status and may result in the termination of your student immigration record and loss of legal employment authorization.

    All changes and updates can be reported to ISS through the online STEM Extension Update Form.

    You must report any of the following: Your reporting timeframe
    Change in legal name Within 10 days
    Change in U.S. or Foreign (home) address Within 10 days
    Change in employer name or address (same employer but new company name or location)         Within 10 days
    Change in or addition of employer 
    (Updated/new Form I983 is required)
    Within 10 days
    Change in employment status (no longer employed, multiple employers, etc.) (Updated/new Form I983 is required) Within 10 days
    Material change or deviation to your Form I983 Training Plan As soon as possible
    Noncompliance with terms of Form I983 Training Plan As soon as possible

    The following reports are required based on calendar dates, regardless of the timing of your last update to ISS:

    Periodic validation and/or evaluation reports Your reporting timeframe
    6month validation* (ISS will email you)  Within 10 days of 6month validation date
    12month selfevaluation Within 10 days of 12month anniversary of approved start date on STEM Extension EAD card
    Final evaluation Within 10 days of end of training experience with a company OR at EAD card expiration, whichever is first 

    Evaluations at 12 months and at 24 months 

    You must submit a self-evaluation of your progress toward the training goals described in Form I-983 no later than 10 days following the 12-month evaluation period and following the conclusion of the 24-month OPT STEM Extension EAD card start date. Evaluation pages for these progress milestones are found on page 5 of the form I-983 Training PlanBoth you and your employer should keep a copy of your I-983 Training Plan, and make sure ISS always has your most updated version.

  • OPT STEM Reporting Requirements for Employers

    Your employer is required to report your termination or departure if it occurs prior to the expiry of your work authorization. Reporting must occur within 5 business days of the event.

    Departure is defined as the time at which the employer knows you have left employment or if you do not report to work for 5 consecutive business days without employer consent. This must be reported to ISS via the Employer Reporting Form for OPT and OPT STEM Extension Employees.

  • After OPT STEM Extension EAD Expiry

    If you maintain status during the STEM Extension by complying with all reporting requirements and not being unemployed for more than 150 days over your 36-month period of authorization, you will have earned a 60-day grace period during which you can:

    • Prepare to depart the U.S.
    • Apply for a change of status with USCIS
    • Start a new program of study at UW-Madison
      – P
      rogram must start within five months of date of change of level to I-20 or EAD end date, whichever is earlier
    • Transfer your SEVIS record to start a new program of study at another U.S. institution
       – Program must start within five months of date of transfer or EAD end date, whichever is earlier