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24-MONTH STEM OPT EXTENSION

Students who graduated from a degree program of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields may be eligible to apply for an addition 24 months of OPT.

Important Facts for 24-Month STEM OPT Extension
  • The EARLIEST you can submit your application to USCIS is 90 days before the end date noted on your current post-completion OPT EAD.
  • USCIS MUST receive your STEM OPT application BEFORE your current 12-month OPT end date noted on your EAD card.
  • You are allowed to a maximum total of 150 days of unemployment, which is cumulative including both post-completion OPT (90 days) and 24-month STEM OPT (60 days).
  • You and your employer have specific STEM OPT reporting obligations required by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) throughout your STEM OPT training period. For details, see 24-Month STEM OPT Reporting Requirements decribed below this page.

Eligibility

  • You must have a specialized degree in a government designated “STEM field” – STEM Designated Degree Program List
  • You must currently be on post-completion OPT working in a job directly related to your major field of study
  • You must be in a valid period of OPT and F-1 status
  • You must have not had more than 90 days of unemployment during post-completion OPT
  • You must have a job offer from an employer that is enrolled in USCIS’s E-Verify employment eligibility verification program
  • You must apply BEFORE your post-completion OPT expires, but no more than 90 days prior to the end date indicated on your current EAD

How to Apply: STEM OPT Extension

Please read the following instructions carefully. It is the student's responsibility to prepare the documents and file the application accurately and in a timely manner. We do not process nor approve your STEM OPT application AND we do not have the ability to influence USCIS processing time.

WHEN to APPLY?

When to Apply?

Your STEM OPT Extension application must be received by USCIS BEFORE your 12-month post-completion OPT expires. The earliest you can apply is 90 days before the OPT end date stated on your EAD card.

Use the STEM OPT Timeline Calculator to determine your application and STEM reporting deadline.

If you file your STEM OPT extension application on time and your post-completion OPT period expires while your STEM OPT application is pending, USCIS will automatically extend your employment authorization for 180 days. This automatic 180-day extension ceases once USCIS adjudicates your STEM OPT extension application.

STEP 1: SUBMIT WCM F-1 STEM OPT RECOMMENDATION REQUEST & FORM I-983

STEP 1: Submit STEM OPT I-20 Request and Form I-983 to DSO

The first step of the STEM OPT application process is to submit the following documents to the DSO for a STEM OPT I-20:

1. Download and complete Form I-983: You and your employer must complete this form before requesting the STEM OPT recommedation I-20 from the DSO.

2. Submit a STEM OPT Recommendation Request e-form.

STEM Request

Students MUST upload a completed and signed Form I-983 with their I-20 request. Note we will not process incomplete requests. Please allow up to 7 business days to process your STEM OPT I-20.

Special Instructions for Form I-983:
  • Form I-983 must be signed and filled in completely and correctly to prevent any delay in processing your request.
  • The start date of the 24-month STEM OPT will be automatically set to the day after the expiration of the current 12-month OPT authorization.
  • The SEVIS School Code is NYC214F01437000. It can also be found in the "School Information" section on page 1 of your I-20.

  • The CIP code can be found in the "Program of Study" section on page 1 of your I-20.
  • For Designated School Official (DSO) information, use the following:
    • DSO: Clive Liew
    • Address: 1300 ork Avenue, Box 65, New York, NY 10065
    • Phone: 212-746-6565
    • Email: WCM-ISS@med.cornell.edu
  • You DO NOT need to include your I-983 training plan with your application to USCIS. However, you are advised to retain a copy of the plan for your records.
  • If this is your first time submitting the I-983, you DO NOT need to complete page 5 of the I-983. The evaluations are due at 12 and 24 months from the STEM OPT start date on your EAD.

Due to the pandemic, DHS has allowed I-20s to be electronically signed and emailed.

STEP 2: PREPARE YOUR DOCUMENTS

Step 2: Prepare Your Documents

Each document you print for your application should be single sided. Make sure you gather and prepare the documents llisted on the "Document Checklist" below to send to USCIS.

It is important that you go over the checklist and your documents to make sure you have signed and included all required documents. Additionally, you are advised to keep a photocopy of the entire OPT application for your records before mailing it to USCIS.

STEM OPT Application Documents Checklist:

Compile and mail these documents to USCIS in the order listed below. Please note USCIS must receive your application within 60 days of your DSO entering the recommendation for STEM OPT into your SEVIS I-20 record. Refer to the "Date Issued" on page 1 of your I-20.

  • Two passport-style photos, taken in no more than 30 days – refer to the USCIS Instructions for Form I-765 (page 20, item C). Gently write your full name in the back of each photo with pencil.
  • Form I-765 filing fee payable with one of the following options. Do NOT include the biometrics fee with the application. You may also use the USCIS Fee Calculator to help determine the filing fee.
    • Credit card using Form G-1450
    • Cashier's check or money order
    • Personal check payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security"
  • Form G-1145 (optional; to receive text and/or email notification from USCIS when they receive your application)
  • Original and official USCIS Form I-765. It is best to type the information into the form and make sure you sign it in black ink. Be sure to review the USCIS Instructions for Form I-765 so that you fill out the form correctly.
  • Photocopy of the new I-20 with STEM OPT recommendation
  • If applicable, photocopies of all previously issued EAD cards, CPT I-20s and OPT I-20s. Only include previously issued F-1 I-20s that show work authorization. No other F-1 I-20s are required or necessary.
  • Photocopy of your diploma
  • Official WCM transcript
  • Print out of your most recent I-94 Travel Record
  • Photocopy of your passport biographical page
  • Photocopy of your most recent F-1 visa page

STEP 3: MAIL STEM OPT APPLICATION to USCIS

STEP 3: Send Your STEM OPT Application to USCIS

USCIS must receive your application within 60 days of your DSO entering the recommendation for STEM OPT into your SEVIS I-20 record. Failure to mail your STEM OPT application in a timely manner could result in denial of your STEM OPT application.

USCIS may change the Lockbox address from time to time, please review the Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-765 page to see where you should file your application.

*Important Notes

  • SEND IT ON TIME! USCIS must receive your application with all of the supporting documents within 60 days of the date your STEM OPT I-20 was issued AND before your current OPT expires.
  • We recommend that you send your application to USCIS by FedEx or UPS for tracking purposes.
  • Be sure to include everything listed on the "USCIS Documents Checklist" listed above.
  • Make sure all your forms are signed in black ink.
  • Keep a copy of your entire application for your personal records.

What's Next?

AFTER MAILING the STEM OPT APPLICATION

After Mailing the Form I-765 and Documents to USCIS

  • The processing time for STEM OPT takes approximately 3 - 4 months for approval. Once you receive the  I-797, Notice of Action, you may use the receipt number to check the status of your application online: Check Case Processing Times
  • If you successfully file your STEM OPT application prior to the expiration of your current post-completion OPT, you may continue employment up to 180 days or until you STEM OPT extension is approved, whicever is sooner. Note the 180-day employement authorization is automatically extended and you will not receive any official document from USCIS.

Changing Employers While STEM OPT Application is Pending

  • You can change employers while your STEM OPT application is pending with USCIS. However, you must notify us by submitting a new Form I-983 AND the STEM OPT Recommendation I-20 e-form. The DSO will then submit the request to USCIS on your behalf.

STEM Request

YOUR STEM OPT APPLICATION is APPROVED

After Your STEM OPT is Approved

  • Once you have received your EAD card for your STEM OPT, submit a scanned copy of your EAD (front and back).

STEM EAD

  • Make sure you check all of the information on your EAD card and contact us if you notice any mistakes.
  • You need to work more than 20 hours per week while on STEM OPT.
  • You must NOT be unemployed for 150 days in total, which is cummulative including the 12-month post-completion OPT (90 days) and STEM OPT (60 days).

STEM OPT unemployment days

24-Month STEM OPT Reporting Requirements

You are still in F-1 student status and your SEVIS record is maintained by WCGS while you are on STEM OPT. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires you to comply and fufill additional reporting requirements listed below in order to maintain your lawful F-1 status.

Remember it is your responsibility to stay up-to-date with all immigration regulations and requirements, including STEM OPT reporting and submit all required information and changes to the DSO within the timelines set by the DHS. Failure to comply with these regulations will result in termination of your work authrization and/or F-1 status by the Department of Homeland Security.

You can read the STEM OPT reporting requirements on the DHS Study in the States website.

REPORT PERSONAL INFORMATION CHANGES

Report Change of Personal Information

Students on STEM OPT are required to report the following changes in personal information within 10 days of the change to the DSO at WCGS. Failure to report these changes will jeopardize your F-1 status and work authrization.

  • Legal Name
  • U.S. Residential/Mailing Address
  • Change of Immigration Status

As of March 23, 2018, the U.S. government created an online portal for students on OPT and STEM OPT to update certain information directly to DHS. We encourage students on STEM OPT to submit these changes to the DSO at WCGS AND to DHS via the SEVP Portal.

Students who fail to report or enter their information in the SEVP Portal in a timely manner or otherwise fail to comply with their reporting requirements may be deemed to be in violation of their nonimmigrant status.

NOTE:
For students on STEM OPT, you are required to submit a signed and completed self-evaluation (Form I-983, page 5) of your current training if your immigration status has changed. You can upload the evaluation when you complete the F1 Student Information Update e-form.

  • To report personal information changes to WCGS, use the F1 Student Information Update e-form.

F1 Info Report

  • To update contact information with the DHS: SEVP Portal

For instructions on how to use the SEVP Portal, please visit SEVP Portal Help

REPORT STEM OPT EMPLOYMENT CHANGES

Report Your STEM OPT Employment Changes

Once your STEM OPT has been approved, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires students to the following changes to your employment within 10 days of occurence.

Students on STEM OPT MUST submit any of the following employment changes to the DSO at WCGS via e-form:

  • Employment Information (material changes to I-983)

You must report any of the following material changes of your current employment and submit a revised I-983 form:

• Company Name
• Employer Address
• Employer Identification Number (EIN)
• Job Description or Training Plan
• Supervisor
• Decrease or increase in number of work hours per week

  • Changing Employers

You must submit a self-evaluation (Form I-983, page 5) of your training with your previous employer AND a new Form I-983 of your new employment to the DSO within 10 days of starting the new practical training opportunity.

  • Adding Additional Employer

You must report additional employment and submit Form I-983 for each new and additional employer.

  • Unemployment

You must report loss of employement and submit a final self-evaluation of your training (Form I-983, page 5).

STEM Report

DEPARTING THE U.S. or ENDING STEM OPT EARLY

Departing the U.S. or Ending Your STEM OPT Early

You have a 60-day grace period to prepare for departure following the end of your STEM OPT period as long as you are in a valid F-1 status.

If you plan to end your STEM OPT early, depart the U.S., or change to another immigration status before the end date on your STEM OPT EAD, you must complete and submit a final self-evaluation (Form I-983, page 5) of your current training withinn 10 days following the conclusion of the training period.

STEM Report

Additional STEM OPT Reporting Requirements

In order to maintain your legal F-1 student status, a STEM OPT student must regularly check in with the DSO throughout the duration of the extension to validate Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) information and report changes made to your training plan.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires each STEM OPT student to complete and submit the following reporting requirements every 6, 12, 18 and 24 months starting from the "Valid From" date on your STEM OPT EAD. Although the DSOs are available to answer any questions you may have, it is the student's responsibility to mark their calendar and set reminders to submit these STEM OPT reports within the timelines described below as soon as you receive your EAD card.

6-MONTH STEM VALIDATION

6-Month Validation Report

Students on STEM OPT must report and confirm that your personal and employer information in SEVIS accurately reflect your current circumstances. This must be done even if none of your information has changed.

Please make sure you log in to the SEVP Portal to review your name, current address, phone number and employer information BEFORE submitting your STEM OPT Reporting E-Form.

STEM 6-Month

12-MONTH STEM VALIDATION & SELF-EVALUATION

12-Month Validation Report and Self-Evaluation

  • Students on STEM OPT must report and confirm that your personal and employer information in SEVIS accurately reflect your current circumstances. This must be done even if none of your information has changed.
  • Students must submit an annual self-evaluation (Form I-983, page 5) describing the progress of their training.

STEM 12-Month

If you are starting a new job, ending your current employment or changing your F-1 status to another status, you are required to submit the self-evaluation report no later than 10 days following the end of any STEM OPT employment.

Please make sure you log in to the SEVP Portal to review your name, current address, phone number and employer information BEFORE submitting your STEM OPT Reporting E-Form.

It is important that you submit the reporting tasks at least ONE week before the due date to ensure that your SEVIS record is updated in a timely manner. Failure to meet these reporting requirements will result in termination of your SEVIS I-20 and work authorization benefits. This means you will be "out of status" and potentially accrue unlawful presence (ULP) in the U.S.

18-MONTH STEM VALIDATION

18-Month Validation Report

Students on STEM OPT must report and confirm that your personal and employer information in SEVIS accurately reflect your current circumstances. This must be done even if none of your information has changed.

Please make sure you log in to the SEVP Portal to review your name, current address, phone number and employer information BEFORE submitting your STEM OPT Reporting E-Form.

STEM 18-Month

24-MONTH STEM VALIDATION & FINAL SELF-EVALUATION

24-Month Validation Report and Final Self-Evaluation

  • Students on STEM OPT must report and confirm that your personal and employer information in SEVIS accurately reflect your current circumstances. This must be done even if none of your information has changed.
  • Students must submit a final self-evaluation (Form I-983, page 5) describing the progress of their training. Not submitting a final evaluation would be a violation of the terms of the Form I-983, "Training Plan for STEM OPT Students," and may jeopardize your nonimmigrant status.

STEM 24-Month

If you are starting a new job, ending your current employment or changing your F-1 status to another status, you are required to submit the self-evaluation report no later than 10 days following the end of any STEM OPT employment.

Please make sure you log in to the SEVP Portal to review your name, current address, phone number and employer information BEFORE submitting your STEM OPT Reporting E-Form.

It is important that you submit the reporting tasks at least ONE week before the due date to ensure that your SEVIS record is updated in a timely manner. Failure to meet these reporting requirements will result in termination of your SEVIS I-20 and work authorization benefits. This means you will be "out of status" and potentially accrue unlawful presence (ULP) in the U.S.

DESIGNATED SCHOOL OFFICIALS

PDSO

Clive Liew

Student Services Administrator

cll4002@med.cornell.edu


Book an appointment with WCGS International Student Services using SetMore

Weill Cornell Medicine Graduate School of Medical Sciences 1300 York Ave. Box 65 New York, NY 10065 Phone: (212) 746-6565 Fax: (212) 746-5981

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