University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

F – 1 Students

24-Month STEM OPT Extension

Attention STEM OPT Applicants:

ISSS has decided to pause implementation of the ISSS STEM OPT Management Fee until Fall 2021. This will allow time for consultation with stakeholders, and we will share information about how feedback will be collected soon.

There are, therfore, no changes to the STEM OPT application process at this time, and eligible individuals can follow the instructions on the STEM OPT Information & Instructions website. USCIS continue to require a $410 application pay that the applicant must pay.


The 12-month period of post-completion OPT can be extended by 24 months for certain science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degree holders. Review the STEM Designated Degree Program List to determine if your field and CIP Code are included in the list.

If You Are Currently on 12-month of Post-Completion OPT:

  1. Complete the 24-month STEM OPT Workshop Slides
  2. Read the STEM OPT Information and Instructions
  3. Complete the following forms
  4. Submit the forms to ISSS.

STEM OPT and Staffing/Temporary Agencies Limitations

If you are in a STEM degree and are considering applying for the 24 month STEM extension, you need to carefully consider whether or not you and the employer will maintain a bona fide employer-employee relationship. This is especially important where staffing agencies are involved. USCIS states the following: 

  • Staffing and temporary agencies and consulting firms may seek to employ students under the STEM OPT program, but only if:
    • they will be the entity that provides the practical training experience to the student, and 
    • they have and maintain a bona fide employer-employee relationship with the student. 
  • STEM OPT participants may engage in a training experience that takes place at a site other than the employer’s principal place of business as long as all of the training obligations are met, including that the employer has and maintains a bona fide employer-employee relationship with the student. 
  • Certain types of arrangements, including multiple employer arrangements, sole proprietorships, employment through ‘‘temp’’ agencies, employment through consulting firm arrangements that provide labor for hire, and other similar relationships may not be able to demonstrate a bona fide employer-employee relationship and, therefore, may not meet the requirements of the STEM OPT extension.

As part of the STEM OPT extension, employers must complete the appropriate parts of Form I-983, Training Plan for STEM OPT Students. In this form, employers attest that:

  • They have enough resources and trained personnel available to appropriately train the student;
  • The student will not replace a full- or part-time, temporary or permanent U.S. worker; and
  • Working for them will help the student attain their training objectives.

DHS will review on a case-by-case basis whether the student will be a bona fide employee of the employer signing the training plan, and verify that the employer that signs the training plan is the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience.

If you have questions about your eligibility for the 24 month STEM OPT extension, contact an ISSS advisor.