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F-1 STEM Extension of OPT

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has extended and expanded Optional Practical Training (OPT) for certain Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) majors. STEM OPT Extension is not automatic and is different from Pre- or Post-Completion OPT.

STEM OPT Eligibility
  • You must currently hold valid F-1 status and be working on an approved period of post-completion OPT
  • You must have earned a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in a major field that appears on the DHS list of STEM majors based on Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) code. See the list here.
  • You must be working for a US employer in a job directly related to your STEM major area of study · Your current or prospective employer must be registered with the DHS E-Verify employment verification system
  • You may not have accrued more than 90 days of unemployment during your initial OPT period · You and your employer must complete a Form I-983 Training Plan for STEM OPT Students
  • Your employment must be paid and at least 20 hours per week
If you qualify and you are interested in STEM OPT Extension, please familiarize yourself with the DHS website:
Applying for STEM OPT Extension

If you are eligible to apply for STEM OPT, you will need to note the end date (listed on your EAD card) of your Post-Completion OPT period. USCIS must receive your STEM application within the final 90 days of your OPT period.

This means both:
  • USCIS must NOT receive your STEM application MORE than 90 days BEFORE your OPT end date
  • USCIS must NOT receive your STEM application AFTER your OPT end date
We recommend that you plan ahead. The International Center is unable to expedite processing if you wait too long. Please plan for 1-2 weeks processing AND shipping times to ensure USCIS receives your application packet prior to your end date.


If you qualify and are within the timeframe to apply, please email the International Center at to request a STEM Extension I-20 and for information on how to upload your documents.

The International Center will provide you with a complete checklist to gather the documents needed to submit to USCIS. The International Center does not require you to submit all documents (though you may choose to do so) but you will need to upload the following 3 documents to request a STEM I-20:
  1. Copy of completed and signed Form I-765
  2. I-983 Training Plan signed and completed by you and your employer
  3. Copy of your University of Hartford diploma
The International Center will process your STEM I-20 after your documents are uploaded – please allow 5-7 business for feedback to be emailed to you. Once the review is complete, you will be issued a new I-20 with the STEM OPT recommendation. You will also be given further instructions on how to mail and assemble your STEM OPT application packet. Please remember, this is your application to USCIS and it is your responsibility that you submit all the correct paperwork. This process should be familiar to you as it is very similar to your first OPT application. (Please note, during the COVID pandemic, you will receive an electronic version of your STEM OPT I-20. You must print and sign this I-20 which will serve as your valid I-20. You will include a copy of the signed I-20 with your application).

If you have any questions or wish to start the STEM OPT application process, please contact for more specific details.