When to Apply

Here are the basic steps of a STEM OPT application:

  • Prepare the STEM OPT materials with the employer
  • Send STEM OPT materials to ISSO (obtain new I-20 recommending STEM OPT)
  • Mail STEM OPT application to USCIS
  • USCIS receives application
The application must be submitted to ISSO no later than one month prior to the end of your current Post-Completion OPT. The STEM OPT application must be received by USCIS before the expiration of the current OPT period. However, you can submit an application to USCIS as early as 90 days prior to the end of the current OPT period.
If you timely file your STEM OPT extension application, you will be able to continue employment while your application is pending, until a final decision is made by USCIS or for 180 days beyond the expiration of your Post-Completion OPT, whichever comes first. It normally takes up to 90 days for USCIS to process STEM OPT extension applications.