F-1 STEM OPT Extension
Temporary Suspension of H-1B Premium Processing
USCIS is temporarily suspending Premium Processing for all H-1B petitions received on or after April 3rd.
Read this chart to see if you are eligible for a OPT STEM Extension.
Before You Apply
Learn more about the reporting requirements in our STEM OPT Reporting section below.
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 I-20.
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
Pay the STEM OPT Administration Fee
Pay the $280 STEM OPT Administration 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.
Gather your documents and information
You will need these individual documents to submit your application, first to the ISSO for a STEM OPT Extension I-20, and then to USCIS for the STEM OPT EAD Card.
This is what is you will submit to us (as instructed in Step 3):
After you receive the STEM OPT I-20 from us (Step 5), compile these documents to send to USCIS (Step 6).
Login to Compass with your UNI and password to submit your application
Please click the appropriate link below:
We will contact you
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 STEM OPT extension recommendation is ready to be picked up or shipped.
Review, sign and date your new I-20
Use it when you travel. The travel signature on page 2 is valid for six months. Keep all previously issued I-20s. You may need them in the future.
Mail your OPT application to USCIS via FedEx or UPS
Send the correct documents
Send the documents (the USCIS Document Checklist) as listed in Step 2 above.
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
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 STEM Employment Authorization Document (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.
After You Receive the STEM EAD Card
You may need them in the future to document your employment history and compliance with U.S. immigration regulations, or for future immigration or visa applications.
STEM OPT Reporting
You and your employer have specific STEM OPT reporting obligations. See our page on how to comply with STEM OPT Reporting Requirements. Open the list of requirements below.
It is possible to change employers during the STEM OPT extension if the following conditions are met: