STEM OPT Application Process

You will submit applications to ISSS and USCIS to apply for STEM OPT. Carefully review the following information to ensure you submit your complete application.

Application Timeline

You can submit your request for a STEM OPT I-20 to ISSS up to 100 days before your current Employment Authorization Document (EAD) expires.

You must submit your application to USCIS:

  • NO more than 90 days before your current EAD expiration date, but
  • No later than your current EAD expiration date.

You must wait to receive your updated I-20 from ISSS before submitting your application to USCIS. You must include a copy of the new STEM OPT I-20 with your USCIS application materials. USCIS will reject your application if you do not include the new I-20 with ISSS’s STEM OPT recommendation.

Application Process

​​You have the option to either submit your application to USCIS online or on paper.  Steps 3 and 4 include directions for both applying online and by mail. You will only need to follow the appropriate directions for your choice.

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1. Complete the ISSS STEM OPT Online Workshop

All applicants must complete the ISSS STEM OPT Online Workshop before submitting their application for a new I-20 to ISSS. This Canvas course includes information about the STEM timeline, application process, and reporting requirements.

You will create a “Simple Certificate” when you complete the STEM OPT Online Workshop Certificate. You will need to download /save this certificate as a pdf because you must upload it with your STEM OPT request in MyISSS.

2. Request a STEM OPT Recommendation From ISSS

Once you complete the Canvas course, you must log in to MyISSS and submit the following items:

When you complete the STEM OPT Request in MyISSS, you must choose one of the following options to receive your STEM OPT I-20:

  • Express Mail: If you choose this option, ISSS will send you a paper I-20 with an ink signature. You must follow E-Ship Global instructions and pay the express mailing fee.
  • Email: There is no fee. ISSS will email send you an electronically signed I-20. Through spring 2022, the Department of Homeland Security is allowing universities to issue electronic versions of the form I-20.

 

3. 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 (Follow the ISSS online I-765 instructions. Upon completion, 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 and upload.

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:

4. 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.

5. 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: June 13, 2022