F-1 STEM Optional Practical Training (STEM OPT) extension
Recipients of a master’s or doctoral degree in a field listed among the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) STEM-Designated Degree Program List, and who are currently on post-completion F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) may be eligible to apply for a STEM OPT extension.
The DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List is organized based on CIP Codes. You can find your current program CIP code in the program information section on page one of the Form I-20.
USCIS must receive your F-1 STEM OPT extension application before the expiration of the initial F-1 OPT authorization EAD card. Failure to timely file the STEM OPT extension application will result in losing the STEM OPT extension benefit based on the earned Mayo Clinic degree.
- STEM OPT extension may be as long as 24 months after initial post-completion OPT period
- You may be eligible for up to two STEM OPT extensions based on two STEM degrees at different degree levels in your lifetime
- You have the ability to apply for a STEM OPT extension based on a previously earned STEM degree from an accredited U.S. institution within 10 years under which you have not previously applied for STEM OPT extension
- Newly expanded list of DHS STEM Designated Degree Program CIP Codes
- You and your employers are required to complete Form I-983 in order to begin the STEM OPT extension process
- You have additional reporting requirements to maintain the STEM OPT authorization
- Employers also have additional reporting requirements and may be subject to DHS site visits
- Volunteering and self-employment are not permitted during STEM OPT extension (all positions must be paid)
- You must work at least 20 hours per week
- You are permitted an additional 60 days of unemployment under the STEM OPT period in addition to the current 90 days of unemployment allowed under the initial 12-month post-completion OPT period; up to 150 days of total unemployment
To qualify for the 24-month STEM Extension, you must meet the following eligibility requirements:
- Is participating in an authorized period of post-completion OPT (for any period of the 12-months available at the degree level post-completion of degree) in a field that is based on your most recent degree on May 10, 2016.
- Most recent earned degree must be a master’s or doctoral degree in a field that is currently on the DHS STEM-Designated Degree Programs List. For eligibility based on a previous STEM degree, the degree must be earned within the last 10 years at an accredited institution in the U.S.
- Not planning to participate in self-employment or volunteer work for STEM OPT extension.
- Be able to complete the Form I-983 Training Plan with your employer(s).
- Accumulated no more than 90 days of unemployment during the current post-completion OPT authorization.
- Employment during the 24-month STEM OPT extension must be directly related to your Mayo Clinic primary/major field of study and the STEM degree in which you qualify for the extension.
- Have not previously received more than one STEM OPT extension and have not yet received an extension under the qualifying STEM degree.
- Be within 90 days of the end of the current OPT benefit period.
Not all employers are certified by the U.S. DHS for E-verify for a number of institutional reasons. Check with your current employer to ensure that they are an E-verify certified employer before you assume that you are eligible to continue work with that employer under the 24-month STEM OPT extension. For more information on STEM OPT, please contact your HR Advisor.
Periods of unemployment
Unemployment is limited to 90 days for the first 12 months of OPT and an additional 60 days during the 24-month STEM OPT extension. Accumulating more than 150 days of unemployment during the OPT period is a violation of your immigration status that could result in termination of your practical training.
The following conditions must exist during the 24 month STEM extension period:
- Employers must be registered with E-verify
- You must work a minimum of 20 hours per week
- Employment must be paid
- Employment must be full-time or part-time for one or more employers
Employment must be in a position directly related to your STEM degree on which the STEM OPT is based and/or earned at Mayo Clinic.
A valid Form I-983 must be completed by you and your employer for each employer and position.
After an F-1 student is granted the 24-month STEM OPT extension, you must report to your DSO within 10 days any change in:
- Issuance of STEM OPT EAD card, must submit a copy to Mayo Clinic’s Legal Department at MCF1Students@mayo.edu
- Legal name
- Residential or mailing address
- Email address and phone number
- Employer name
- Employer address
- Supervisor’s name and contact information
- Dates of employment at each employer
- Verification of how the job is related to the degree/field of study
- Loss of employment (within five business days)
- Decision to end employment/STEM OPT extension and leave the U.S.
- Transfer and/or beginning of new program of study
- Change of visa status (provide documentation of change of status)
- Validation report every six months
- Self-evaluation report every 12 months
Reporting a change of E-verify employer
You must submit a letter from your new employer and an updated Form I-983 to Mayo Clinic’s Legal Department at MCF1Students@mayo.edu so that we can update your SEVIS record and issue an updated Form I-20. Refer to the requirements of the employer letter.
If your employment is terminated, your employer and/or you must report this termination to Mayo Clinic’s Legal Department at MCF1Students@mayo.edu within five business days.
During the 24-month STEM OPT extension, you are required by law to send a validation report to Mayo Clinic’s Legal Department every six months starting from the date the 24-month extension begins and ends, when your F-1 status is completed, or the 24-month extension ends, whichever is first.
This validation report is required even if there have been no changes in your employer, living address, or other required reporting information.
To submit your validation report, see the STEM OPT Reporting Requirements.
During the 24-month STEM OPT extension, you are required by law to send a Self-Evaluation Report on Form I-983 to Mayo Clinic’s Legal Department at MCF1Students@mayo.edu every 12 months starting from the date the 24-month extension begins and ends, when the student’s F-1 status is completed, or the 24-month extension ends, whichever is first.
- The 12-month and the 24-month Self-Evaluation Report can be found on page five of Form I-983
- Students who have changed employers during the STEM OPT extension period are required to submit a new Form I-983 at the time of the employment change
To submit your self-evaluation report, see the STEM OPT Reporting Requirements.
Note: The requirement to report any updates while on OPT continues if your 24-month STEM OPT extension is extended further by the automatic H-1B OPT Cap-Gap extension.