How to Get a Longer OPT

We know how scary it can be to think that you can only stay in the US through OPT for one year after graduating college. However, we’re here to let you know that you can actually have more time in the US post-graduation. Keep reading to learn how you can get this extension for yourself!

Is it possible to get a longer OPT?

Yes! You can get a longer OPT under the condition that you hold a bachelor degree or a higher degree in a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) major from an SEVP-certified school that is accredited or recognized by the US Department of Education. 

How much more time will you get?

The extension will add 24 more months onto the regular one year-long OPT. This means that you will have 3 years of OPT in total, if your degree qualifies as a STEM major.

How can you determine if your major qualifies as STEM?

Each school has a different list of what they would consider a STEM major. For example, some universities may consider Economics as a STEM major, while others may not. So, it is crucial to check your school’s list of STEM-designated programs. 

How do you apply for a STEM OPT extension?

You must apply for a STEM extension at least one month before the end of your OPT period, but we recommend that you submit your application 90 days prior to be safe. You can submit your application through US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The process requires you to file a Form I-765, a Form I-20 that is endorsed by your designated school official within the last 60 days, and a copy of your STEM degree.

What do you have to do after receiving your STEM OPT extension?

Within 10 days of receiving your STEM OPT extension, you must report your legal name, residential or mailing address, email address, employer’s name, and employer’s address to your designated school official. Moreover, you must confirm the previously-listed information to your designated school official every 6 months to ensure that everything is up to date.

What if your OPT expires before you can get your STEM OPT extension?

If USCIS received your application prior to the end date on your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and your extension application is pending, your legal status and work authorization in the US will automatically be extended by up to 180 days or until you receive your extension from USCIS.

Can you apply for more than one STEM OPT extension?

A student can participate twice in the STEM OPT extension program, given that they have two separate STEM degrees at a higher education level (bachelor, master, and doctorate). They must submit their application to USCIS for their second STEM OPT extension up to 90 days before their first OPT ends.

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