F-1 STEM OPT Extension
Beginning 9AM Friday, March 10 through 11 AM Monday, March 13, you will not to be able to submit or upload any ISSO applications (including this one) as we conduct our Compass database migration. Do not worry, you will be able to submit applications again starting 12:00 PM Monday, March 13. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
F-1 STEM OPT Overview
You must meet certain requirements
Read this chart to see if you are eligible for a OPT STEM Extension.
You and your employer have specific reporting obligations
Learn more about the reporting requirements in our STEM OPT Reporting section below.
You must apply on time
The earliest you can apply is 90 days before the end date of your initial period of Post-Completion OPT. The latest USCIS can receive your OPT STEM Extension application is the date your EAD expires. Please allow 10 business days for us to process your OPT STEM Extension.
You have a limited amount of unemployment days
You are limited to a total of 150 days during which you may be unemployed during the entire period of post-completion OPT and the STEM extension.
You may not be unemployed for more than 90 days during post-completion OPT.
How to Apply
If you meet eligibility requirements from above, you're ready to start!
Pay the OPT Trainee Administrative Fee
Pay the $280 STEM OPT Administrative Fee. You remain in F-1 status under Columbia’s sponsorship with an active SEVIS record during your authorized period of 24 months of a STEM OPT extension.
Submit your forms to the ISSO
Submit the forms below as a single PDF file to ISSOfirstname.lastname@example.org for processing:
Pick-up your STEM OPT Extension I-20
Allow up to 10 business days for us to review and process your application. We will notify you by email when your new I-20 with OPT recommendation is ready. You may pick it up or request FedEx delivery on the STEM OPT Extension request form.
Mail your OPT application to USCIS via FedEx or UPS
Be sure to send it on time
USCIS must receive your application before your current OPT expires and within 60 days of the date the STEM OPT extension I-20 is issued to you. If it received later, your application will be denied by USCIS, and your $410 fee will be not returned or refunded to you.
Sign all forms with blue ink
Make sure all your forms are signed! Your application will be rejected if you don’t sign your I-20, check, or I-765 form.
Make a copy of your entire application for your records
To avoid mailing problems, send your application by FedEx or UPS to the appropriate USCIS Lockbox facilities.
Most Common Address
If you list a mailing address on the I-765 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, send your application to the Dallas lockbox:
USCIS, Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067
Less Common Address
If you live in: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Guam, or the Northern Mariana Islands, send your application to the Phoenix lockbox:
USCIS, Attn: AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S, Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034
OPT Application Checklist
This is what you will send to USCIS:
Continue employment while your application is pending
If you filed an application on time for a STEM extension, you will be able to continue employment while the extension application is pending, until a final decision is made or for 180 days, whichever comes first. Your employer may refer to page 21 of the I-9 Manual.
Receive your OPT STEM Extension approval and EAD Card
The OPT STEM Extension start date on your EAD card will be the date after your OPT EAD expires. Contact us if you receive any other notice, such as a Request for Evidence (RFE), from USCIS.
STEM OPT Reporting
You and your employer have specific STEM OPT reporting obligations. The table below gives an overview.
How to Report STEM OPT
It is possible to change employers during the STEM OPT extension if the following conditions are met:
- The new employer must be enrolled in E-Verify before you begin to work.
- You and the new employer must complete a new form I-983 Training Program for STEM OPT Students and submit it to the ISSO within 10 days of beginning the practical training.
- If you begin the new practical training less than 10 days after leaving the first employer, timely submission of the new I-983 fulfills your reporting obligation.
- If the period of time between STEM OPT employers is longer than 10 days, you must first report the loss of employment and then the beginning of new employment with the new I-983.