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17-Month OPT STEM Extension

Please note: On May 10, 2016, DHS replaced the 17-month STEM OPT extension with a new 24-month STEM OPT extension. All existing 17-month STEM OPT EADs will remain valid until the EAD expires, is terminated or revoked. For more information about the new STEM OPT rule, please visit the STEM OPT Hub

Students who graduate with a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degree are eligible to remain in the United States for an additional 17 months on an optional practical training (OPT) STEM extension.

You may qualify for an additional 17 months of OPT under the following circumstances:

  • Your degree for your current period of post-completion OPT is a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in a STEM program listed on the Department of Homeland Security's STEM designated degree program list.
  • The employer from which you are seeking work uses the E-Verify Program.
  • You have not already received a 17-month extension of OPT.

Once approved, your designated school official (DSO) will provide you with a new Form I-20, “Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status” that shows a recommendation for this employment on page three.

To apply for work authorization, you must electronically file a Form I-765, "Application for Employment Authorization" with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and pay a filing fee. USCIS will send you a Form I-766, "Employment Authorization Document" (EAD) upon approving your petition.

If your EAD for OPT expires, you may continue to work for up to 180 days while your 17-month extension is still pending, if you meet the following conditions:

  • You are currently in a period of post-completion OPT.
  • You properly filed your application for the 17-month extension with USCIS in a timely manner.

Remember, you must report any changes to your name, address, employer or loss of employment to your DSO within 10 days.


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