7-Month and 24-Month STEM Extension

STEM Extension is an additional 24 months of post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) granted to certain government-designated STEM degree-holders in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.


Who is eligible for a STEM Extension? 

A student can apply for a STEM Extension if:

  • The student is currently participating in post-completion OPT, or in an authorized period of 17-month STEM Extension with at least 150 days remaining before the end of the student’s 17-month OPT end date (on or after October 7, 2016).
  • The student is currently working for a U.S. employer in a paid job (at least 20 hours per week) directly related to the student’s major area of study.
  • The student has successfully completed a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in a field on the STEM Designated Degree Program List from an accredited, SEVP-certified, U.S. institution of higher education, or has completed all course requirements but still completing his or her thesis, dissertation, starred paper, or capstone.
  • The student’s employer is registered with the E-Verify employment verification system and has an IRS Employer Identification Number (EIN).

Under certain circumstances, a student may use a prior STEM degree from a currently accredited SEVP-certified school.

  • To do so, the student must:
    • Have received their most recent degree (which does not need to be a STEM Designated Degree Program) from an SEVP-certified school that is currently accredited.
    • Have received their prior, qualifying STEM degree (at the bachelor’s level or higher) within 10 years preceding the date of application for the STEM OPT extension with USCIS.


Who is NOT eligible for a STEM Extension?

A student CANNOT apply for a STEM Extension if:

  • The student's post-completion OPT period has expired.
  • The student has not completed all degree requirements necessary for degree conferral.
  • The student has already received a STEM Extension of any duration at the same level of which the student is now wanting to apply.  A student must earn a second qualifying degree for application for their second STEM Extension.
  • The student has exceeded 90 days of unemployment during their post-completion OPT period.


Important Points to Remember

  • Students must allow 5 full business days after submission of a complete application for the Center for International Studies to process their request.
  • A student may file their STEM Extension packet up to 90 days before their post-completion OPT end date. However, the application packet must be sent to USCIS within 60 days from when CIS issues the new I-20.
  • A student’s graduation from St. Cloud State University must be conferred in order to submit an application packet to USCIS or the student must provide a letter from his or her academic advisor explaining why the student’s degree has not yet been conferred.
  • A student’s application packet must be received by USCIS before the their post-completion OPT end date.
  • While the student’s STEM Extension application is pending, the student’s post-completion OPT is automatically extended until the STEM Extension is approved or for 180 days, whichever is earlier.
  • Any change in name, address, employer, or employment status is required to be reported to CISs within 10 days.
  • The student must validate their STEM Employment to CIS at 6, 12, and 18-month intervals.  Failure to do so will result in automatic SEVIS termination.
  • Student’s are allowed a maximum of 150 days of employment (OPT and STEM Extension).