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for International Students at SDSU

OPT STEM 24-Month Extension

If you are currently an F-1 student on Post-Completion OPT and you have earned a Bachelor's, Master's, or Doctoral degree in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics) field, you may be eligible to apply for a 24-month extension of your OPT. 

More information for you and your employer can be found on the U.S. government's website Study in the States and also on the USCIS website.


Are you eligible?

You must meet specific eligibility requirements to be eligible to apply for this 24-month OPT extension.
Click here for a list of the eligibility requirements

How to apply

If you are eligible to extend your OPT, you must submit an application to USCIS similar to your application for Post-Completion OPT. You will need a new I-20 from the ISC before you can submit this. ISC processing time is 7 business days.
Click here for a checklist of documents you need for your OPT STEM Extension.

How To Complete the I-765 Application Form


Mailing the Application Package


What Happens After You Apply?


Periods of Unemployment

Students on the 24-month STEM OPT Extension are limited to a cumulative total of 150 days of unemployment for the 3 years of OPT (from the start of Post-Completion OPT through the end of the STEM OPT Extension). You must report any period of unemployment using the ISC's OPT Update Form.

Immigration Reporting Requirements 

You are required to report all changes to your employment information and your personal address/phone number/email address within 10 days of the change. You can update your personal U.S. address and phone number in your SEVP Portal; all other changes must be reported to the ISC's OPT Update Form. Failure to report this information and the required participation and evaluations within the deadlines are a violation of your F-1 status and could have a negative impact to any future applications for U.S. benefits and/or U.S. visas.

Problems with your SEVP Portal Account

If you have problems with your SEVP Portal Account, please visit the DHS Portal Help.

If your SEVP Portal Account is locked, please complete the ISC's OPT Update Form to request it to be reset.

6-Month Participation Reporting

You must report your participation every 6 months from the start of your OPT STEM Extension. Although SEVP will send you a reminder email to "contact the DSO" at your school to report your participation, the ISC requires our students to report participation to our OPT Update Form, where you will confirm your employment and personal information (personal U.S. address, phone number, and email address).  

Annual Self Evaluations

You must submit an evaluation every 12 months from the start of your OPT STEM Extension. The evaluations are on Page 5 of the I-983 training plan and must be signed by you and your employer. Use the top part for the first evaluation and the bottom part for the final evaluation. You will upload the completed and signed evaluation (Page 5 only) to our OPT Update Form when you report your 12-month participation and 24-month participation.   

Employment Changes 

If you end employment, please submit the final evaluation to the OPT Update Form. If you have a new employer, you can also submit the new I-983 for the new employer at the same time.

In addition, you are required to submit a new I-983 Training Plan if there are any material changes to, or material deviations from, your previously submitted I-983 trainng plan. This should also be submitted to the OPT Update Form

Ending your OPT STEM Extension or F-1 Status

Ending your OPT STEM Extension 

If you plan to return home permanently before your OPT STEM Extension ends, (you won't return to the U.S. to finish your OPT STEM Extension), you will need to complete the OPT Update Form with your date of departure and upload the final evaluation within 10 days of your last day of employment.

Changing Status 

If you changed or will change your immigration status from F-1 to another status (whether it is inside the U.S. through a Change of Status application to USCIS or outside the U.S. by obtaining a new visa and entering with that visa), you will need to complete the OPT Update Form and upload the final evaluation and other requirement documents within 10 days of the date your status changed.

Transferring to Another Institution 

If you wish to transfer to another institution during the 60-day grace period after completing your OPT STEM Extension, in addition to your participation and evaluation requirement stated above, you will need to complete the ISC's Transfer Out Request Form. This online form can be found on the the ISC's Forms webpage, where you will also need to upload the acceptance letter to the new school. This needs to be done at least 10 business days before the date you want your SEVIS record (I-20) to be transferred or before your grace period ends, whichever comes first.


Health Insurance 

Students on the OPT STEM Extension are not eligible to purchase the JCB Insurance Solutions policy that is offered through the ISC. The company has stated that they are unable to offer the policy to students on the OPT STEM Extension, and no exceptions can be made. 


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