STEM Extension OPT allows F-1 international students with a qualifying STEM degree to apply for an additional 24 months of OPT work authorization. View the list of current "STEM eligible" degrees that Bradley offers. While STEM Extension OPT is recommended by International Student Services (ISS), it is an application that is sent to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for processing and approval.


In order to be eligible for STEM Extension OPT, you must:

  • Have maintained your F-1 status.
  • Have completed a STEM approved degree (based on the CIP code on your I-20).
  • Currently be on approved post-completion OPT.
  • Have an employer who is e-Verified.
  • Have not been approved for STEM extension two other times or at the same degree level.
  • File your application with USCIS before your OPT end date.
  • File your application with USCIS no more than 90 days before your OPT end date.
  • File your application with USCIS no more than 60 days after the DSO recommendation on your new I-20.
  • Have completed the Form I-983 “Training Plan for STEM OPT Students” with the employer you are requesting to work for on the extension.


  • You are responsible for your own STEM OPT application and making sure you submit a complete and correct application. International Student Services can only provide guidance to help you apply.
  • If you have not completed your degree requirements or don’t have proof of your degree, you will not be able to apply for STEM extension as the application requires proof of degree completion.
  • You need a “STEM OPT recommended” I-20 in order to apply for STEM Extension. Failure to have a STEM recommendation will result in USICS denying your application.
  • Double-check your application before submitting. Make sure to keep a personal copy of your entire application before final submission to USCIS.
  • If you mail your STEM Extension application to USCIS, make sure that you use a tracking number. When the packet has been received, make sure you have proof of the delivery saved (i.e. taking a screenshot of the delivery).
  • Expect that it will take USCIS at least 90 days to adjudicate your application, but you can check current processing times on the USCIS webpage.
  • If you file your application in a timely manner, then you will receive a 180-day grace period after your OPT end date where you are eligible to keep working without your Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
  • While on STEM Extension, you must maintain your F-1 visa status; this includes reporting any changes to International Student Services within 10 calendar days.
  • Save a copy of your Form I-983 so that you can easily edit or make changes in case of any updates to your employment. A full Form I-983 must be turned in even if you are only making a couple of changes.
  • Make sure the information on your Form I-983 reflects your employer information and follows the Form I-983 sample. Any I-983 that has been submitted with incorrect or missing information will not be accepted.
  • For immigration purposes, full-time employment equates to at least 20 hours per week; anything below 20 hours is part-time.
  • You are responsible for keeping track of your unemployment; you are granted an additional 60 days of unemployment while on STEM extension to be added to the unused unemployment days from your post-completion OPT.
  • Once you are on STEM Extension, you are required to report to Bradley every 6 months even if there are no changes to report; an email will be sent to the email address on file so make sure you keep your email address up-to-date and check it regularly.

Application Timeline

The earliest you can apply for STEM extension OPT is 90 days before your current OPT authorization end date. The processing times for the USCIS Service Centers can vary greatly, but you can to check the USCIS webpage for the latest approximate processing times. It is recommended that you apply early as there is no option to expedite the application process.

The absolute latest USCIS can received your application for STEM Extension OPT is the final day of your post-completion OPT. It is your responsibility to ensure that all application materials are received by USCIS prior to the end of your post-completion OPT period. Please note that students who wait to apply until the end of the post-completion OPT period may be rejected. It is recommended that students apply for STEM extension as soon as you are eligible.


As of April 2021, USCIS allows for online filing of the Form I-765 for international students looking to apply for OPT. Due to this, there are two ways for students to apply for OPT: the USCIS online filing system and mailing the paper application. However, USCIS encourages everyone to use the online application, so that it the only checklist listed below.

Online Application Filing

There are two steps to apply for STEM Extension OPT using the online application process:

  1. Apply for a STEM Extension OPT recommended I-20 with International Student Services –
  2. Apply for STEM Extension OPT authorization with USCIS –
    • Create an account with USCIS at
      • Email address you use to create the account must be unique and cannot be shared with another person
      • If you have used the USCIS online account to apply for post-completion OPT, then use the same account.
      • You can learn more about your USCIS online account at
    • Choose the “File a form online” button
    • Choose the “Application for Employment Authorization (I-765)” option
      • Make sure to choose the (c)(3)(C) option for STEM Extension OPT
    • Make sure you read the form overview before you begin the application. Some tips from USCIS are:
      • You are allowed to save a draft of the form, but be aware that the draft will be deleted after 30 days.
      • The online form has the same legal parity as the paper form.
      • The form is logic based, so start at the beginning and answer as many questions as you can.
      • If you idle for more than 15 minutes, you will need to log out and sign back in.
    • Complete the form by answering the questions when prompted.
      • The different sections are: Getting Started, About You, Evidence, Additional Information, and Review and Submit.
      • The form automatically saves when you move to a different section.
      • Makes sure you are carefully reading the questions! For example, when the form asks for a date, it will want the Month-Day-Year.
    • Gather the documents you will need to upload
      • Passport-style photo
      • I-94
      • Passport
      • Transcript that shows degree conferral
      • Post-Completion OPT Employment Authorization Document
      • STEM Extension OPT recommended I-20 from within 60 days
      • If you have an approved CPT or OPT, then I-20s that prove previous CPT or OPT authorization – this would be uploaded under “Additional Information”
    • Upload the necessary evidence. Some tips from USCIS are:
      • Make sure you have a clear image of each document and the text is readable
      • Maximum size for a document is 6MB per file
      • Acceptable forms are: PDF, JPG, JPEG, PNG, TIF or TIFF
      • Only use English letters, numbers, spaces, periods, hyphens, underscores or parentheses when naming your document files
        • Special characters are not allowed in the file name
    • Review your application
      • Once you have completed the form, you will be allowed to review the information. If the application has a red alert, you will not be able to submit the form, and will need to make a correction.
      • Make sure you click the “view draft snapshot” for a PDF copy of your I-765. You should download and save this for your personal records.
    • Submit your application
      • Read the Applicant’s declaration and sign
      • After you agree to the applicant statement, you will be directed to, which is a secure government portal maintained by the Treasury.
      • Select your payment method, which can be either a debit or credit card or an ACH withdrawal
      • Once you hit continue after you pay the fee, your application will be submitted. You cannot make any changes or updates to your form once the payment has been submitted.

Documentation Required for STEM Extension OPT Recommended I-20