STEM OPT Application Process

Submit your request to ISSS up to 100 days before your current Employment Authorization Document (EAD) expires. USCIS will accept your 24-month STEM OPT application:

  • Up to 90 days prior to your current EAD expiration date, but
  • No later than your current EAD expiration date.

You have the option to either submit your application to USCIS online or on paper.

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1. Request a STEM OPT Recommendation From ISSS

You must submit the following documents to request a STEM OPT recommendation:

Choose a method to fill out Form I-765: either online (follow instructions in online form) or on paper (using ISSS paper I-765 instructions). If you want an ISSS advisor to review your I-765, email a draft copy to [email protected] with the other required forms.

2. Assemble the Application Materials

If You Wish to Submit Your Application Online

  1. Create a MyUSCIS online account. Complete all pages of Form I-765 online (keep a copy for your records). Do not submit until you have the STEM OPT I-20 from ISSS.
  2. Have $410 available in your U.S. bank account or U.S. credit card. If your employer will pay the fee, you will need their payment information.
  3. One passport-style color photo (jpg, jpeg, or png) taken within 30 days of filing your application. You can get photos taken at the UMN Passport Office in the University International Center (331 17th Ave SE)
  4. Most recent electronic I-94.
  5. Your most recent EAD and biographical page of your passport.
  6. New I-20: page 1 with your signature and page 2 with STEM OPT recommendation.
  7. UMN diploma and final transcript. Exception: Graduate students who have completed degree requirements except thesis or dissertation should include a transcript and letter from their adviser clarifying that all coursework is complete and the only remaining requirement for degree completion is the thesis/dissertation. 
  8. Institutional accreditation: Save a PDF of this page.

Please note: When asked, your eligibility category is c(3)(C) STEM Extension. As soon as you have paid the $410 fee, you have submitted your application and can no longer make changes or additions.

If You Wish to Submit Your Application By Mail

Put your application materials together in the following order. You should also keep a copy of this entire application for your records.

  1. A check or money order for $410 payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security" for the STEM OPT application fee. Do not pay the $85 Biometrics fee. To pay $410 by credit card, fill out USCIS Form G-1450
  2. Two color, passport-style photos. Print full name and most recent Form I-94 number in pencil on the back of each photo. Place the photos in a clear plastic bag or an envelope. You can get photos taken at the UMN Passport Office on the East Bank Campus (331 17th Ave SE)
  3. All pages of original form I-765, even if they are blank
  4. Photocopy of new I-20: page 1 with your signature and page 2 with STEM OPT recommendation
  5. Photocopy of your most recent EAD card
  6. Photocopy/print-out of the most recent electronic I-94
  7. Photocopy of the identity page of your passport
  8. Photocopy of each of as many as possible of the following that contain your name and photo: entry visa stamp with a photo, driver's license or state ID, student ID, and any previously issued EAD.
  9. A photocopy of your UMN diploma and final transcript. Exception: Graduate students who have completed degree requirements except thesis or dissertation should include a transcript and letter from their adviser clarifying that all coursework is complete and the only remaining requirement for degree completion is the thesis/dissertation.
  10. Print-out of UMN's institutional accreditation
  11. Optional, but recommended:

3. Submit the STEM OPT Application to USCIS

If You Wish to Submit Your Application Online

Login to your MyUSCIS account. Complete the online I-765, upload all documents in Step 2, and pay the $410 fee.

After your payment is accepted, you will be redirected to a confirmation screen which will include your receipt number. Keep a copy of your receipt number for your records. You can track the status of your STEM OPT application through your myUSCIS online account.

If You Wish to Submit Your Application By Mail

Submit the application materials by certified or express mail in order to track your package.

No matter where you live in the U.S., send your application to the USCIS Chicago Lockbox.

  • For U.S. Postal Service (USPS):
    USCIS
    PO Box 805373
    Chicago, IL 60680
  • For FedEx, UPS, and DHL deliveries:
    USCIS
    Attn: I-765 C03
    131 South Dearborn - 3rd Floor
    Chicago, IL 60603-5517

You are responsible for mailing your STEM OPT application to USCIS.

4. Wait for EAD to Be Mailed From USCIS

Note: If you receive a Request For Evidence (RFE) from USCIS, contact ISSS as soon as possible.

Last updated: July 6, 2021