You are eligible to apply for a one-time 17-month OPT extension, beyond the initial 12 months of OPT, if you meet all of the following conditions:
- You are currently approved for post-completion OPT.
- You completed a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in a science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) field. Visit the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website for the STEM Designated Degree Program List. Eligible degrees are listed by their Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code. Your degree's CIP code is listed on the "primary major" line in the top left corner on the third page of your I-20.
- You have a job or job offer from an E-Verify employer.
- You have not previously received a 17-month OPT extension after earning a previous STEM degree.
When to Apply
Apply before your current EAD expires. USCIS recommends you apply up to 120 days before your OPT expiration. You can continue to work for up to 180 days while the application is pending.
How to Apply
Provide the following to one of Messiah's Designated School Officials (DSOs). Preferably, a DSO in the Intercultural Office (e-mail preferred):
- Name and address of current employer
- Name and contact information of your supervisor
- Your current e-mail address
- Your updated local address
- Completed I-765 form
Please allow one week for processing. International Student Programs will issue a new I-20 with a recommendation for the OPT extension and will mail it back to you at the updated local address provided.
Review your application materials before mailing.
- Completed Form I-765
- Item 16: Use the applicable code (c) (3) (C)
- Item 17: Please ask for an E-Verify code from your employer. An E-Verify ID number has 6 digits.
- Photocopy of new I-20 page 1 and 3
- Application fee: $380 check or money order payable to "U.S. Department of Homeland Security"
- Copy of STEM degree (official transcript, unofficial transcript, or copy of diploma showing level and program of study)
- Photocopy of the front and back of your Form I-94 (arrival/departure record; see CBP.gov/I94)
- Photocopy of your last EAD (front and back)
- Photocopy of passport identification page
- Photocopy of F-1 visa page
- Two photos of the following specifications:
- USCIS photo instructions (see the "Required Documentation" section on page 6)
- The two photos should have a white background.
- They should be unmounted, printed on thin paper, glossy, and not re-touched.
- The photos should show a passport-style, full-face image, with both ears visible.
- The photos should be 2 by 2 inches, with the distance from the top of the head to just below the chin about 1 3/8 inches.
- Lightly print your name and your I-94 number in pencil on the back of each photo.
- Photographs must have been taken within the last 30 days and not previously used.
- Completed G-1145 form (optional; it signs you up for e-mail/text message notification of your application’s arrival at USCIS)
Mail your application to the appropriate USCIS lockbox. See below for yours.
If you live in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Guam, or the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, be sure to mail your application to the USCIS Phoenix lockbox:
USCIS Phoenix Lockbox:
PO Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036
For Express Mail and Courier Deliveries:
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Phoenix, AZ 85034
If you live in Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands, or West Virginia, be sure to mail your application to the USCIS Dallas lockbox:
USCIS Dallas Lockbox:
PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266
For Express Mail and Courier Deliveries:
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Lewisville, TX 75067
Frequently Asked Questions
If I have a dual major, can I qualify for the 17-month extension based on one of the degree programs?
Yes, if one of the degrees is on the STEM Designated Degree Program List and any job worked while on the extension is related to your STEM degree.
Can I qualify for the 17-month extension based on my minor?
If I previously earned a degree in a STEM field and now earned a non-STEM degree, can I apply for the 17-month extension?
No. The 17-month extension must be based on the same degree as the post-completion OPT.
How can someone suggest a change to the STEM Designated Degree Program List?
To suggest a change to the list of STEM designated degrees, write to firstname.lastname@example.org, with "STEM Code Change Request" in the subject line. Please include your name, phone number, organizational affiliation, the code(s) you would like to see added and the rationale for the addition. Change requests will be reviewed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Department of Education, and other interested government agencies.
When does my 17-month extension of OPT start?
If you have properly filed for a 17-month STEM extension, the period of extension starts the day after the expiration of your original OPT period.
Can I work with an expired EAD while my 17-month extension is pending?
Yes. Your work authorization is automatically extended for up to 180 days while the 17-month STEM extension application is pending.
Can I change employers while the 17-month extension is pending?
Yes. However, if the 17-month extension period has started, the employer must also be an E-Verify employer. The job change must be reported to your ISS adviser.
Can I travel outside of the U.S. if my original EAD expires and my 17-month extension is still pending?
No. You must wait to receive your new EAD prior to traveling.