24-Month STEM OPT Extension

F-1 students who have graduated with a degree in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) field that has been designated by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as eligible for the 24-month extensionand are currently on an approved period of 12-month post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), may apply for a 24-month extension to continue their employment. This extension is available two times to eligible students.

Eligibility:

  • Be currently authorized by USCIS for a 12-month period of OPT based on a degree awarded by NJIT.
  • Have obtained a degree from an accredited U.S. university (NJIT or other) in a field included on ICE’s STEM Designated Degree list within the last 10 years. Your CIP code must be listed. You can find your CIP code on the first page of your I-20, under Program of Study.
    • Not all NJIT degrees are eligible for the STEM extension. If in doubt, contact your OGI adviser before submitting your application.
  • Be employed or have an offer for a paid position which is directly related to their NJIT field of study at the time of application from an employer registered in E-verify. You cannot be self-employed.
  • USCIS must receive your STEM application before the expiration of your OPT or cap-gap, or they will automatically deny your petition.

How to apply:

  1. Submit the following documents to OGI:
  1. STEM Extension Request Form
  2. Pages 1-4 of Form I-983 completed and signed. For instructions visit the Study in the States OPT Hub.You should also keep a copy for your own records.
  • This form will ask you for your Designated School Official's (DSO) name and contact information. You can find the name and contact information of your DSO/International Student Adviser under our Staff Page. 
  • SEVIS School Code of School Recommending STEM OPT (including 3- digit suffix): NEW214F00245000 (can be found on your I-20).
  1. Original I-765 signed in blue ink (item#16 should show (c)(3)(C)). DO NOT USE OGI'S ADDRESS ON THE I-765. YOU MUST USE YOUR OWN ADDRESS TO HAVE USCIS MAIL AND YOUR EAD DELIVERED. 
    1. If your OPT EAD card has a number which starts with "EAC-----" then list the Vermont Service Center in Question 11 on the I-765. If it starts with "YSC-----", then list the Potomac Service Center.
  2. Copy of current EAD card (both sides)
  3. Copy of I-94 print-out
  4. Money order in the amount of $200 payable to NJIT (NJIT does not accept personal or bank checks, students must submit a money order)

Processing time is 7 days. If you would like these documents to be mailed to you, you must provide OGI with a pre-paid shipping envelope.

  1. ​​Once OGI has reviewed your documents, you will be issued (2) original copies of your STEM OPT Request Form I-20. You must SIGN both copies in BLUE pen, mail one with your application package to USCIS, and keep the other copy for your records.
  2. USCIS must receive your STEM application before the expiration of your OPT or cap-gap, or they will automatically deny your petition. You must mail the following documents to USCIS, at the address below, within 60 days of your STEM OPT I-20 being issued:
  1.  Form G-1145 – Recommended to help track your application.
  2. Completed Form I-765 - The original document only - not a photocopy! Sign in BLUE pen. See " I-765 STEM Extension Example" for further information.
  3. Required $410 fee payable to Department of Homeland Security by: personal check, write “USCIS I-765” in the memo line of the check, or, bank check or money order. Please note, a money order is more difficult to track than a check after it has been sent to USCIS.​  The fee for applying for OPT will be $410. 
  4. Original STEM OPT I-20, recommending the 24-month STEM extension on page 2, endorsed by OGI. USCIS must receive the application within 60 days of the I-20 issuance and before the expiration of your current OPT. Be sure to sign your Form I-20 in BLUE before mailing!
  5. Photocopy of your current, unexpired passport ID page and F-1 visa page.
  6. Most recent I-94
  7. Photocopy of both sides of any previously issued EAD card, including your current EAD card.
  8. 2 identical US passport-style photos taken within the last 30 days. Write your name and SEVIS ID# (N00...) lightly on the back of each picture in pencil.
  9. Photocopy of your most recent diploma that shows the degree name and the date awarded. If you are applying for STEM extension based on a previous degree, include a copy of that diploma.
  10. Employment letter dated within 30 days of the application date. (Optional)
  11. Official or unofficial transcript from NJIT, as evidence of your program of study in a STEM CIP Code field included on the ICE Designated Degree Program List.  (Optional)

Processing time is 2-3 months. USCIS must receive your STEM application before the expiration of your OPT, or they will automatically deny your petition. If you live in New Jersey, your complete STEM OPT package should be sent to one of the following addresses:

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Deliveries:

USCIS
PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

 

For Express mail and courier deliveries: (Recommended)

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

 When to apply:

USCIS can receive your application as early as 90 days prior to the end of your current OPT and no later than the day before your OPT or cap-gap ends.

USCIS must receive your application within 60 days of when your new I-20 was issued by OGI.

If you have filed your application during this period, your employment authorization is automatically extended for 180 days while your application is pending.

Tips for filing forms with USCIS:

https://www.uscis.gov/forms-filing-tips

Maintaining Status while on STEM OPT:

  • You cannot accrue more than 150 days of unemployment throughout the total 36 months of post-completion and STEM extension OPT.
  • You must report any change in employment, address, name, or immigration status through the Highlander Pipeline. You are also required to report every 6 months regardless of whether there have been any changes.
  • Send a copy of your EAD to global@njit.edu so we can check your SEVIS record and make sure the dates match. 
  • Submit page 5 of form I-983 to OGI every 12 months. This self- evaluation must be signed by your supervisor.
  • Submit a new I-983 to OGI if substantial changes occur to your employment.
  • You are required to submit a new I-983 to OGI when you change employers within 10 days of starting your new job. 

Traveling while on STEM OPT:

While application is pending: OGI recommends avoiding travel while your OPT is pending if your current OPT period has expired as it might be more difficult to reenter with an expired document. Additionally, USCIS might send you a Request for Further Evidence (RFE) while you are abroad to your U.S. address which requires answering as soon as possible. If your STEM OPT is approved while you are outside the U.S. you will be required to have your EAD in hand to reenter the country. USCIS cannot mail your EAD outside of the U.S.

After STEM OPT is approved: In order to reenter you must have your EAD in hand, your I-20 with a valid travel signature, valid passport and visa, and a letter of employment.

Travel signatures are only valid for 6 months while on OPT.

If you exceed your 150 days of unemployment while outside the U.S. CBP can deny your reentry.