Certain students who earned degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields may apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion optional practical training (OPT). 

OPT STEM Extension Workshop

View the OPT STEM Extension Information Video for information about OPT STEM Extension and the steps of how to apply. The workshop includes explanations of requirements, timelines, the application process, and more!

OPT STEM Extension Basics

  • Graduated from a STEM-designated degree program. 
  • Currently in a valid period of post-completion OPT. 
  • Work for an employer who meets the requirements: 
  • The application window for STEM OPT opens 90 days prior to the current OPT employment authorization end date; USCIS must receive the application before the OPT expires. 
  • Students and their employers must complete, sign, and submit the Form I-983 to ISSS before ISSS can issue the STEM OPT Extension recommended I-20. 

Applying for OPT STEM Extension

  1. Verify CIP Code is STEM Eligible

    Students must verify that their major’s CIP Code (found on their I-20 under Major I) is on the STEM Designated Degree Program List to determine their eligibility before continuing. 

  2. Watch the OPT STEM Extension Workshop

    View the OPT STEM Extension Information Video for information about OPT STEM Extension and the steps of how to apply. 

  3. Apply for OPT STEM Extension I-20 in ISSS Connect 

    • Students need to request the OPT STEM Extension Recommended I-20 through their ISSS Connect portal under the Documents & Requests tab. 
    • ISSS must enter a recommendation for OPT STEM Extension in SEVIS and issue a new I-20 for the student’s application to USCIS. 
    • Normal processing time for ISSS to issue the OPT STEM Extension Recommended I-20 is 7-10 business days from submission. 
  4. Receive OPT STEM Extension I-20 and Make an Appointment 

    After receiving the OPT STEM Extension Recommended I-20, the student will make an appointment with an Immigration Coordinator to review their OPT STEM Extension application to USCIS. 

  5. Submit application to USCIS

    Students will then submit their application online to USCIS (a mail option is also available, if needed). 

    DO NOT apply for OPT STEM Extension without the OPT STEM Extension Recommended I-20. 

  6. Submit a Copy of your EAD Card 

    Once you have received your EAD card for your OPT STEM Extension authorization, you must submit a copy of the card into the “OPT/STEM OPT EAD Card Submission” request in the DOCUMENTS & REQUESTS tab of your ISSS Connect Portal. 

Maintaining Your Status While on OPT STEM Extension


Students who receive post-completion OPT may be unemployed for up to 90 days; students who have received the OPT STEM Extension may be unemployed for an additional 60 days, totaling 150 days.  

Required Reporting 

To complete the required reporting, students must log in to the ISSS Connect portal and find the appropriate report record in the Documents & Requests tab. 

Students are required to report the following qualifying events within 10 days of the event:

  • Receipt of EAD Card 
  • New Employment 
  • Completion of a Job 
  • Legal Name Change 
  • Address Changes 
    • All address changes must be made by logging into PAWS and updating the “Mailing” address. This information will be pulled into ISSS Connect and ISSS will update addresses directly. 
    • A student’s U.S. address must be listed in PAWS as “Mailing” address. 
    • A student’s home country address must always be listed in PAWS as “Home” address. 

Students must complete STEM OPT Data Validation (check-in) reports, submit annual self-evaluation and report any material changes of the current form I-983.

  • Students must submit a STEM OPT data validation report in ISSS Connect portal every 6 months;
  • Students must submit an annual self-evaluation to describe the progress of the training experience;
  • Students must report any material changes of the training plan (form I-983).

For more detailed information regarding reporting requirements for students who are on OPT STEM extension, please visit this site.


Students on OPT STEM Extension should travel with: 

  • Updated I-20 with travel endorsement (issued within 6 months) that lists the OPT STEM Extension approval and employment  
  • OPT STEM Extension EAD card 
  • Employment offer letter 
  • Valid passport 
  • Valid F-1 visa 
UWM Credential Access 

Students on OPT STEM Extension who have lost access to their UWM credentials (login and password) must work with the UWM Help Desk to reinstate their access.