Stem Extension for F-1 Post-Completion OPT FAQs
What are the benefits of applying for the STEM extension?
- changing employers is easily possible (this is more difficult if on an H-1B work visa)
- the STEM extension maximizes your employment authorization time in the U.S.
- the application is less expensive ($380 vs $$$$ for an H-1B)
- no cap on STEM extensions, unlike the H-1B cap
What is the E-Verify program?
The E-Verify program is an Internet-based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA).
The E-Verify program currently is the best means available for employers to determine employment eligibility of new hires and the validity of their Social Security Numbers.
E-Verify electronically compares information contained on the Employment Eligibility Verification Form I-9 with records contained in SSA and DHS databases to help employers verify identity and employment eligibility of newly-hired employees.
What is the application process for the 17-month STEM extension?
The student files Form I-765 with USCIS, Form I-20 endorsed by the DSO, a copy of the STEM degree, and the required application fee.
Form I-765 is being amended to require the student to indicate the degree and provide the employer’s E-Verify information.
If the student's post-completion OPT expires while the 17-month extension application is pending, students who timely filed their STEM extension applications with USCIS will receive an extension of employment authorization after their current employment authorization expires, but for no more than 180 days.
What are the eligibility requirements for the 17 Month STEM extension?
- The student must have a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree included in the STEM Designated Degree Program List.
- The student must currently be in an approved post-completion OPT period based on a designated STEM degree and working for a U.S. employer in a job directly related to the student’s major area of study.
- The student's employer must be enrolled in the E-Verify employment verification system.
- The student must not have previously received a 17-month OPT extension.
- The Brandeis University ISSO must recommend the 17-month OPT extension in SEVIS.
- The student must apply on time (i.e., before the current post-completion OPT expires). Students who timely file an application for the 17-month OPT extension will be able to continue employment while the extension application is pending, until a final decision on the I-765 or for 180 days, whichever comes first.
Can I continue to work while my STEM Extension application is pending?
As per 8 CFR 274a.12 (b)(6)(iv) a person granted OPT may continue to work for up to 180 days following the expiration of the original OPT while the STEM extension is pending.
This regulation only applies if the STEM extension was filed and received by the USCIS prior to the expiration of the original OPT authorization.
After my STEM extension is granted, do I need to do anything?
Students who are granted a STEM OPT Extension have additional federal reporting requirements, which the ISSO calls STEM Check-In. This reporting is required every six months.
Failure to satisfy these requirements will automatically invalidate the student’s F-1 status.
In addition, students must report address or employer changes to the ISSO within 10 day of any change.
How Do I complete my STEM Check-In?
The STEM Check-In consists of you reporting your STEM employer info directly to isso@Brandeis.edu.
What information is required for the 6 month STEM Check-In?
Email the following to firstname.lastname@example.org:
- Your Legal name
- Residential and mailing address
- E-mail address
- Employer name
- Employer address
- Job title or position
- Supervisor name
- Supervisor contact information
- Employment start date
- Employment end date
If I stop working, do I need to report that to the ISSO?
Whenever you end STEM employment, you or your employer are required to notify the ISSO.
Can I change employers while on STEM OPT?
You may change employers at will. However, you can only be employed by an E-Verify registered employer.