Degree recipients in certain STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) can apply for a 24-month STEM Extension of OPT, if specific criteria is met:

  1. Students must be currently engaged in post-completion OPT.
  2. Students must have graduated with one of the qualified STEM degrees with a qualifying CIP code. See question #2 in the FAQ section below for more details.
  3. USCIS must receive the student's STEM OPT application before the expiration of the student's current post-completion OPT (standard, 24-month STEM, or cap-gap), and no later than 60 days from the date the DSO recommended the benefit in SEVIS. The earliest that you can apply is 90 days before your Post-Completion EAD expiration date.

Requirements for the 24-Month STEM Extension

Under the Preamble to the STEM extension final rule [81 FR 13079], please note:

“There are several aspects of the STEM OPT extension that do not make it apt for certain types of arrangements, including multiple employer arrangements, sole proprietorships, employment through "temp" agencies, employment through consulting firm arrangements that provide labor for hire, and other relationships that do not constitute a bona fide employer-employee relationship… Accordingly, DHS clarifies that students cannot qualify for STEM OPT extensions unless they will be bona fide employees of the employer signing the Training Plan, and the employer that signs the Training Plan must be the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience. DHS recognizes that this outcome is a departure from SEVP's April 23, 2010 Policy Guidance (1004-03)."

Terms and Conditions for Employer Participation

DHS has recently provided additional guidance regarding the employer-employee relationship during the F-1 STEM OPT Extension. This information can be found on the Optional Practical Training Extension for STEM Students (STEM OPT) article from USCIS.

  1. The employment must be directly related to the student’s field of study.
  2. The employment must be full-time (20+ hours per week).
  3. The employment must be with an employer who participates in the E-Verify system. If you are a Duke employee, the E-Verify number is 1404688, effective June 17, 2019.
  4. The employer must agree to complete and sign the Form I-983 Training Plan and that the training opportunity will assist the student in attaining his or her training goals.
  5. The employer must agree to report the termination or departure of an OPT employee to DVS. Employers must report termination to Duke within 5 business days, and Duke must report that termination in SEVIS.

Required Application Materials for the 24-Month STEM Extension

In order to begin the STEM OPT Extension application process, please gather the following documents:

  1. Completed and signed Form I-983

    On page 1 where it asks for DSO information, please use the contact information of your STEM OPT Extension Advisor (see below for your Advisor’s name)

  2. Completed and signed Form I-765YOU MUST USE THIS VERSION OF THE I-765

    STEM OPT Extension: Use the code (c)(3)(C) in Item Number 27

  3. Completed Form G-1145 E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance (recommended)
  4. Offer letter from STEM employer
  5. Copies of all Duke Form I-20s with STEM degree and current degree, if different (all three pages of each one issued)

    NOTE: If you are applying for a STEM OPT extension based on a previously earned STEM degree, you must also include a copy of your prior STEM degree (Official Transcript) and evidence that the institution is currently accredited by the U.S. Department of Education and certified by the SEVP (All Form I-20s from STEM degree school).

  6. Copy of passport biographical page
  7. Copy of most recent US F-1 student visa, even if it is expired (from your passport)
  8. Copy of most recent electronic I-94, denoting duration of status (D/S)
  9. Copy of all OPT EADs (front and back)
  10. Copy of official Duke Transcript or eSCRIP-SAFE
  11. Two (2) original passport-style photographs (see Passport Photo Requirements)

    **Using pencil, please write your full legal name and A-number (USCIS # found on your EAD card) on the back of both photos. These must be new photos that have never been used before and must meet all passport photo requirements.

  12. Personal check, cashier’s check, or money order for $410.00 made payable to: U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (Click Here for more info about paying the application fees)

Application Process for the 24-Month STEM Extension

We have created an electronic submission process for STEM OPT Extension requests that will allow our office to process each STEM OPT request in a timely manner. We have designated two Assistant International Student/Scholar Advisors to review applications, recommend STEM OPT Extensions, and issue the new I-20. To begin your request for a STEM OPT Extension, please click here and choose “Log in with Portal Account.” You will be directed to log in with your personal (non-Duke) email address and TDS Portal password on the next page. If you do not know your log-in credentials for the TDS Portal, please contact your advisor (listed below). Please read all instructions carefully and complete all steps of the request.

If you have questions regarding the application process, please email:

Frequently Asked Questions

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