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STEM OPT Extension
The STEM OPT (Optional Practical Training) Extension is an additional 24-month period of temporary training available to F-1 international students in an approved period of OPT who meet eligibility criteria pertaining to their degree program's field of study, job, and employer.
To qualify for a 24-month STEM OPT extension, an F-1 student must:
- Have completed a degree in an eligible STEM field from an SEVP certified U.S. school.
- Currently in and have maintained lawful F-1 status during the standard period of Post-Completion OPT, which includes not accruing over 90 days of unemployment.
- Have paid employment at least 20 hours per week through an employer enrolled in USCIS's E-Verify employment eligibility verification program. Find an E-Verify employer >>
- Work with the employer to complete a formal training agreement (I-983) and learning objectives to show the direct relation to your STEM degree.
For detailed information about STEM OPT, visit SEVP’s Study in the States' STEM OPT Help Hub.
Babson’s full-time Master of Science in Finance (MSF) and Master of Science in Business Analytics (MSBA) programs, along with two MBA concentrations starting with the class of '21 (Quantitative Finance & Business Analytics and Machine Learning) are STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) designated. This classification allows international graduates on an F-1 visa who participate in and maintain an initial period of regular post-completion OPT to be eligible to apply for an additional 24 months of training if all other eligibility requirements are met. Note: MBA concentrations need to be declared before the published deadline in a student's final semester and before applying for post-completion OPT.
Babson students may also qualify for the STEM OPT extension if they have earned a previous degree in a qualifying STEM field from a U.S. college/university where the period of STEM OPT was not used - view the next section.
As indicated on the STEM OPT HUB, students cannot qualify for the STEM OPT extension unless they will be a "bona fide employee" of the employer signing the Form I-983 Training Plan. Students may not provide employer attestations on their own behalf. STEM OPT applicants may participate in a start-up or small business as long as all regulatory requirements are met. The employer that signs the Training Plan must be the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience.
Only active Post-Completion OPT students who are within 90 days of their end date and who meet all eligibility requirements are able to apply for the STEM OPT Extension. A new Form I-20 with STEM OPT recommendation is first needed from ISSS. USCIS must receive your application before the end of your Post-Completion OPT period.
Students should confirm their individual eligibility by referring to the Eligibility Overview section above.
Before you can submit your STEM OPT application to USCIS you must prepare application materials and request a new Form I-20 with STEM OPT recommendation from ISSS using an online request form.
When submitting the request for a new Form I-20 with STEM OPT recommendation to ISSS, you will need to prepare and upload images/PDF versions of the following documents for an international student advisor to review within your request:
- Completed Form I-983 Training Plan
- Your most recent Form I-94 record
- A copy of your official transcript showing your STEM-eligible degree. For Babson degrees, visit the Registrar.
Refer to the instructions within the STEM OPT Extension Recommendation request and these resources (Google Drive folder) >> to assist you. Note: to access this Google Drive folder, you must log in with your Babson credentials.
Request your STEM OPT Extension recommendation I-20 from ISSS » (allow for up to two weeks processing)
Upon receiving your request, an ISSS advisor will review all materials and provide a new Form I-20 with the STEM OPT recommendation, provided electronically to your Babson email.
Filing Deadline: You must make sure to submit your STEM OPT application to USCIS within 60 days of the ISSS advisor recommending you for STEM OPT and with enough time that USCIS receives it before the end of your post-completion OPT (as indicated on your EAD).
Submit Online Application to USCIS: Log in with your Babson credentials to access the following guidance document to help you submit your application to USCIS:
Note: This online system managed by USCIS. ISSS is unable to anticipate any potential changes or technical issues with the online filing process.
Don't get denied - common mistakes with online STEM OPT applications to avoid!
- Submitting I-765 application to USCIS before receiving the new I-20 with STEM OPT recommendation from ISSS
- Make sure to select the correct eligibility code for STEM OPT: (c)(3)(C)
- Submitting your application with missing information, including previous degree information if applying based on a prior STEM degree.
If you successfully file your application for a STEM OPT extension prior to the expiration of your Post-Completion OPT period, your OPT is automatically extended up to 180 days following the expiration of Post-Completion OPT EAD for as long as the STEM OPT application is pending. All work done during this 180-day time period is considered to be under STEM OPT that counts towards the 24-month total. You should check with your employer to determine what additional documentation they require while your application is pending for employment verification purposes. If your application is denied, you must stop working immediately.
Once students have applied for, or been approved for the STEM OPT extension, there are additional requirements and responsibilities to be aware of that are different than post-completion OPT. Access submission links below (Qualtrics) for STEM OPT Validations or STEM OPT Employment Changes. Visit the STEM OPT HUB for expansive information on reporting responsibilities. Students are responsible to comply with all individual reporting requirements.
STEM OPT students should continue to check their Babson email account for SEVP Portal alerts related to the additional reporting responsibilities and stay connected to Babson ISSS.
Once approved for the STEM OPT extension, students must submit a 6-, 12-, 18- and 24-month validation report to the DSO (international student advisor) that confirms the student’s current name, address, employer, and employment status are correct.
In addition, students are required to submit an additional mid-point/12-month evaluation and a Final/24-month evaluation.
- 6 months after the STEM OPT EAD start date
- 12 months after the STEM OPT EAD start date (with 12 month I-983 self-evaluation, page 5)
- 18 months after the STEM OPT EAD start date
- 24 months after the STEM OPT EAD start date or when ending STEM extension period earlier than 24th month (with Final I-983 evaluation, page 5)
Students can submit the validation form within 30 days prior to or 25 days after the validation due date. Please note that ISSS cannot retroactively submit the validation in SEVIS if you missed a reporting period.
Potential consequences of missing reporting periods
There will be no immediate consequence for this missing 6-month validation. However, there are potential consequences for missing this reporting requirement. Examples could include, but are not limited to:
- An automatic system termination of your SEVIS record for “Failure to Report While on OPT.” This decision is at the discretion of USCIS/SEVP officials.
- If/when you apply for future benefits through USCIS (i.e. H-1B, green card application). You and your immigration attorney who assisted in your H-1B application would need to respond to these inquiries.
- Unemployment must be reported with 10 days of the event. STEM OPT students are permitted an additional 60 days of unemployment through the duration of the STEM OPT extension, which is equal to 150 days total between standard post-completion OPT and the STEM OPT extension.
- All new employers must be enrolled in E-Verify before a student can begin employment.
- A new Form I-983 is needed for each new employer and must be submitted to the DSO (international student advisor) within 10 days of beginning a new opportunity. The STEM OPT authorization will be updated to reflect the change, and a new Form I-20 will be issued.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is permitted to conduct site visits of employers that train STEM OPT students. These are routine visits that the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) initiated shortly after the rule became effective in 2016 to ensure that STEM OPT students, are engaged in a structured, work-based learning experience that is consistent with the goals of practical training and information supplied on the student's Training Plan (I-983).
Students should make sure their employer information and home addresses are up-to-date using the SEVP Portal. The employer address should be the address where the student reports for work. If working at a client site, which is different from the employer address, the client's name and address should be listed along with the STEM OPT employer.
DHS may request information concerning compliance by email or phone before conducting an inspection. Such a request may seek to confirm the work locations of STEM OPT students and their supervisors or may request documentation on the STEM OPT program to assist in assessing the commensurate wage or other regulatory requirements.
For more detailed information regarding employer site visits, please visit the Employer Site Visits page on the STEM OPT Hub. It is advised that STEM OPT students should also share this information with their STEM OPT Extension E-Verify employer.