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STEM Application Procedures

Timeline: When to Apply

Students with a STEM degree and currently in the 12-month OPT period:

  • USCIS must receive your OPT STEM extension application before your current 12-month OPT expiration date.
  • Apply as early as 90 days before your current 12-month OPT expires.

Eligibility

To qualify for the 24-month STEM OPT extension, you must:

  • Be in F-1 status
  • Be currently working in a period of post-completion OPT
  • Have a bachelor's degree or higher degree in an eligible STEM field
    • You may be eligible to use a prior STEM degree for this requirement; to use a prior STEM degree, you must:
      • Have received your most recent degree (which does not need to be STEM-related) from a currently accredited Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)-certified school in the U.S.
      • Have received your prior, qualifying STEM degree within 10 years of applying for the STEM OPT extension.
      • The qualifying STEM degree must be on the Department of Homeland Security's STEM Designated Degree Program List at the time you submit your STEM OPT extension application (rather than at the time you received the degree).
  • Have a job offer that meets the following requirements:
    • The job is with an employer enrolled in the USCIS E-Verify program
    • The job offers at least 20 hours of work per week
    • The job will provide formal training and learning objectives directly related to your qualifying STEM degree
  • Be able to complete the I-983 Training Plan with your employer
    • Students must obtain the Form I-983 online at https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov before they request the STEM OPT I-20. The STEM OPT student and their prospective employer must work together to complete this form prior to the student applying for the STEM OPT extension. Completed I-983 form can be scanned and emailed to dso@semo.edu. A STEM Extension I-20 Request form must also be submitted at https://www.semo.edu/international/opt/stem-extension.html  
    • Upon receipt of Form I-983 and STEM Extension I-20 Request Form, the STEM OPT I-20 will be issued and mailed to the student. Please note that your Employment Authorization Number can be found on the back of your EAD card. It is the first line that begins with USA plus the numbers following.

How to Apply

Application Materials

􀂉Completed I-765 form

  • USCIS will mail your employment card to the address you give on the Form I-765, please type your information directly on the I-765 form and print the form at https://www.uscis.gov/i-765 
  • Part 1, check box 1.c.: Renewal of my permission to accept employment
  • Complete questions as they are asked. We have provided some helpful advice for the following quesitions that may not be self-explanotory:
  • Question 8 and 9: Most students do not have these number, leave them blank.
  • Question 12: Select "Yes"
  • Question 20: Remember to put your birthdate in this format MM/DD/YEAR
  • Question 21C: Most students don't have this, leave it blank 
  • Question 27: Write "C" "3" "C" in the boxes.
  • Question 28a.: Example: "Masters of Science" or "Bachelors of Science"
  • Question 28c: Employer's E-Verify number
  • Skip to Part 3. and select the box by 1.a.
  • Complete contact info section and remember to sign and date after printing. Leave the rest of the form blank.

􀂉 $410 filing fee -- Personal check or money order payable to "US Department of Homeland Security"

􀂉 Two identical color photos must be 2" by 2" (passport style). Print your name on the back of the photos lightly with pen. Put your photos in a small plastic bag.

  • For more information & samples, please go to https://travel.state.gov/passport/pptphotos/head_position.html
  • Do NOT staple your photographs to your application
  • Do NOT cut your photos or glue/tape them to application

􀂉 A copy of your current employment authorization letter from USCIS and a copy of the front/back of your current EAD card.

􀂉 Copy of STEM REQUESTED I-20 that has been issued in the last 30 days. Be sure to sign it before copying it.  Note: The USCIS no longer requires copies of all old I-20s.  If you are applying based on a previous STEM degree and not your current degree, you will need to include that I-20 along with a letter explaining you are applying based on a previous degree during which you did not use a STEM Extension.

􀂉 Copy of your I-94 record

  • Can be obtained at: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov 

􀂉 Copy of your visa page and passport bio page (the one with your photo) -- Please make sure your passport is valid and has a validity period of at least 6 months prior to filing for OPT. If your passport is valid for less than 6 months, please apply at your consulate for a renewal and include proof of having applied for the renewal in your OPT application.

􀂉 Letter from your employer with the following information: employment start date, job title, job description, salary, E-verify number and employer's name in E-verify system.

􀂉 Photcopy of your SEMO Diploma OR a copy of your final official transcript. If you have misplaced your final trancript, you may request a new one. For transcript request instructions, please visit: https://www.semo.edu/registrar/transcript.html

􀂉 Complete Form G-1145 E-Notification of Application/Petition Form to receive e-mail notifications about your case. https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/form/g-1145.pdf
Note: If you include the G-1145 form with your application, USCIS will send you an e-notification within 1-2 weeks from the date they receive your I-765 EAD (OPT) application. They will also mail you a paper receipt notice within 2-4 weeks. Once you have received your receipt number, you can track the status of your individual case using the case status search feature of the USCIS web site. You may elect to receive email alerts about your case status from this web site.

􀂉 Mail your application within 30 days from date the STEM OPT I-20 was printed. Make a copy of all documents for your record, paper clip all documents together, and mail by trackable Express Mail (UPS, FedEx) to:

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 Northern Mariana Islands.

USCIS
Attn: NFB AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

If you live in: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Colombia, 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 Island, or West Virginia

USCIS
Attn: NFB AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

􀂉 Please remember to review the STEM Reporting Requirements Page at: https://semo.edu/international/opt/stem-reporting.html 

Contact

573.986.6863
international@semo.edu
International Village

International Education and Services
One University Plaza, MS 2040
Cape Girardeau, Missouri 63701

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