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Frequently Asked Questions

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  • A student may file for the 24-month extension up to 90 days prior to the end date of post-completion OPT.

    USCIS must receive the student's STEM OPT application package before the expiration of the student's current post-completion OPT (standard post-completion or cap-gap), and no later than 60 days from the date the DSO recommended the benefit in SEVIS. The STEM OPT application package includes: Form I-765, I-765 filing fee, Form I-20 with the 24-month STEM OPT recommendation, and documentation of the qualifying STEM degree.

  • Yes, but all the employers must be enrolled in E-Verify and ISSS must receive a new Form I-983 for each employer.

    Each employer must be enrolled in E-Verify and have an IRS Employer Identification Number (EIN); DHS says that there must be a "bona fide employer-employee" relationship, and that student may not be self-employed.

  • Review: H-1B Cap-Gap Extension

    You may request a cap-gap I-20 here: New OPT I-20 Request Form

  • Please contact ISSS for assistance with the RFE.

  • Yes, if the following are true:

    • You received the previous degree no more than 10 years prior to the date STEM OPT is recommended by the DSO
    • Your prior degree is STEM eligible and from an SEVP-certified US institution
    • You must be on approved post-completion OPT
    • Your work must be related to your previously awarded STEM degree
  • No. Your employment must be a paid job, for at least 20 hours per week at each STEM employer.
    • For F-1 students currently maintaining status under the H-1B “Cap-Gap” extension, lengthy H-1B processing times are more likely to result in a lapse in work authorization as H-1B visa approvals become less likely to arrive via mail by October 1.
    • Students in F-1 status who have been pursuing employment through valid Optional Practical Training (OPT) must stop their employment in the United States after October 1 until their H-1B petitions are approved.
    • Travel outside the U.S. after an H-1B petition is filed is not recommended for any applicant requesting an initial change of status to H-1B classification.
    • Travel during this time frame may revoke Cap-Gap privileges, including legal work status for F-1/OPT students and could give rise to a determination by USCIS that the candidate abandoned their H-1B petition.
  • Yes, please refer to the following regulations:

    8 CFR 214.2(f)(11)(i)(C) and 8 CFR 247a.12(c)(6)(iv):

    A student who has timely filed an application for a 24-month STEM OPT extension with USCIS may work for the STEM OPT employer while the STEM extension application is pending, for up to 180 days beyond the expiration of his or her prior post-completion OPT EAD.

    If a STEM OPT application is still pending more than 180 days beyond the expiration of the student's regular or cap-gap OPT, the student must stop working. Employment after day 180 is not authorized under 8 CFR 274a.12(b)(6)(iv) if USCIS has not adjudicated the STEM OPT application by day 180.

  • The CIP code on your I-20 degree's major field of study must appear on the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List. Degree must be from an accredited, SEVP-certified, U.S. institution of higher education.

  • Please see the attached SEVP OPT Policy Guidance for more information and examples on determining the direct relationship between employment and a student’s major.