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OPT Extensions for STEM Majors

Students who major in the STEM categories are eligible for a 17-month extension of their OPT, on the condition that they work an e-verify company.  Students will have to find out if their prospective employer is registered with e-verify in order to qualify for the additional 17 months of OPT. 

Areas of study in the STEM category include (but are not limited to):  bioscience technology, medical scientist, immunology, pharmacology, genetics, neuroscience, etc.  For a complete list, go to: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/stemlist.htm

What Documents Do I Need to Apply for the OPT Extension?

Please make an appointment with OIA, and bring the following items:

  • Completed Form I-765, online at http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/i-765.pdf, or in our office (instructions for I-765). In item 3, use an address where you can receive mail for the next 3-6 months. The U.S. Postal Service will not forward USCIS mail even if you change your address. It is also very difficult to change your address with USCIS once they have received your application.  In line 16, write (C ) ( 3 ) ( C ).  In line 17, write your degree, your employer's name and their e-verify number.Two (2) passport style photos made to USCIS’s specifications.  The best place to obtain these photos is at Jefferson Medical Media, 5th floor of Jefferson Alumni Hall (pay by check or cash only).  Other stores produce unsatisfactory photos for the same price.
  • Copy of your diploma in English, or an official, signed verification letter of your degree conferral from the registrar's office at Jefferson (this will take a few days).
  • Letter from your supervisor or employer stating that you are continuing your employment and that the work is directly related to your STEM degree.
  • $380.00* money order or personal check made out to “Department of Homeland Security.” Please write "I-765:  17-month extension" in the memo section.
  • Clear copies of most recent passport and signature on it, I-94 number, and all I-20 forms issued to you.  If your passport does not have your signature in it, bring a photo ID that has your signature on it.
  • Clear copies of any previously issued EAD cards.

    Please note that you will also have to pay for the FedEx mailing fee (no more than $30)

    *Fees are subject to change. Please check with OIA or the USCIS application form before submitting a check or money order

Traveling Abroad During OPT Extension

You are strongly advised not to travel outside the U.S. until you receive the new EAD card.

Once you have received your extended EAD card, you may travel outside the US as long as you have the following documents:

  • Passport that is valid for at least 6 months into the future.
  • Valid F-1 entry visa. If you do not have a valid F-1 entry visa, you must go to a U.S Embassy or consulate to apply for one. It is possible that the consular officer will not issue you a new entry visa merely to complete your OPT.  You must still prove non-immigrant intent.
  • I-20 with OPT recommendation endorsed for travel by OIA representative.
  • Proof that you have a job to return to in the U.S., such as a letter from your supervisor or offer letter from human resources describing your job.