Below is information about the basic eligibility requirements for STEM OPT.
To apply for a 24-month STEM OPT extension, you must:
- Have obtained a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree from an accredited U.S. educational institution.
- Have obtained a degree in a field on the Department of Homeland Security STEM Designated Degree Program List.
- Have a job or job offer that is directly related to your STEM degree.
- Be currently authorized for post-completion OPT.
- Have accumulated no more than 90 days of unemployment during the initial 12-month period of OPT. You are allowed an additional 60 days of unemployment while on STEM OPT (equalling up to a total of 150 days while on OPT or STEM OPT) . If you fail to report employment to ISSS, this time may be counted as unemployment.
Your employment must meet the following requirements:
- Employment must be at least 20 hours per week.
- Employment must be paid.
- You may have multiple employers, but you must complete a new I-983 for each employer.
You must keep written documentation of all employment for your records.
Some of the requirements for your employer are different for STEM OPT than OPT.
- Your employer must be enrolled in E-Verify.
- You cannot be employed through a contractual relationship, self-employment, an agency, or consulting firm may not be allowed for the 24-Month STEM OPT (review the information below regarding arrangements with staff/temporary agencies).
Your employer will be required to attest:
- The company has sufficient resources and personnel available to provide appropriate training.
- The company is not replacing a U.S. worker (full-time or part-time, temporary or permanent).
- This employment opportunity will help you in reaching your training goals.
If you have multiple employers, each employer must fulfill the STEM OPT requirements for employment.