STEM OPT Extension

The STEM OPT 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 plan (Form 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.

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.

Students currently in a degree field (or on Post-Completion OPT from that degree) that is not identified as STEM eligible, but have previously earned a STEM eligible degree from an accredited U.S. higher education institution (Babson or another school), you may be eligible to apply for a STEM OPT extension under certain conditions:

  • You must have received both degrees from currently accredited and SEVP-certified institutions;
  • Your previous degree must have been conferred less than 10 years ago at the time of STEM OPT application;
  • The prior degree was conferred previous to the degree that provided the basis for the student's current period of post-completion OPT;
  • The prior degree is assigned a STEM eligible code found on the STEM Designated Degree Program List at the time of STEM OPT application;
  • You haven't already received a STEM OPT extension based on this previous degree;
  • Your practical training opportunity is directly related to your previously obtained STEM degree;
  • The employer meets the criteria listed above in Eligibility Criteria (i.e. E-Verify)

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 24-month 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. 

STEM OPT Application Window

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. Allow up to two weeks for processing.

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 (SharePoint folder) >> to assist you. 

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. Any emails sent to your account will be redirected indefinitely to your account so it is important that you continue to log into your Babson email account frequently using your as your log in. 

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: Use our guidance document to help you submit your application to USCIS:

Note: The online application system is 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. If your application is denied, you must stop working immediately.

A Request For Evidence (RFE) can be issued for a variety of reasons when the USCIS adjudicator reviews your application. If issued, you can review the RFE in your myUSCIS account and will also receive an original notice in the mail.  

You can respond to the request on your own but encourage you to at least inform ISSS about your RFE, providing the full RFE notice in your email. An ISSS advisor an provide you with guidance if needed. Take note of the following:

  • The allowable time period to respond to an RFE is limited and will be indicated on the materials from USCIS. It is your responsibility to respond to the RFE on time. If you fail to respond by the deadline, your application will be denied. 
  • Your application processing is temporarily paused. No progress will be made on your application until USCIS receives the necessary documentation from you. 

Babson ISSS provides eligibility information regarding requirements for optional practical training (OPT) and STEM OPT extensions, as well as answers to frequently asked questions.  We attempt to provide you with the most current information available to our office; however, the information we provide and our responses to questions do not constitute legal advice. The OPT/STEM OPT application is a personal application for which you are responsible. The application preparation and USCIS case decision will vary depending on the facts of your case. USCIS may change its interpretation of these policies, procedures, regulations, or eligibility requirements at any time, and all case decisions are made by USCIS. Neither ISSS nor Babson College is responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results of a USCIS application or case decision. Students are encouraged to consult with a competent legal professional if they wish to obtain legal advice or guidance.

Once students have applied for, or been approved for the STEM OPT extension, there are additional requirements and responsibilities that are unique to STEM OPT extension period. 

STEM OPT students should continue to check their Babson email account for SEVP Portal alerts related to the reporting responsibilities and stay connected to Babson ISSS. Students are responsible to comply with all individual reporting requirements using the appropriate Babson ISSS Reporting Forms.

Visit the STEM OPT HUB for expansive information on reporting responsibilities.

Once approved for the STEM OPT extension, students must submit a 6-, 12-, 18- and 24-month validation. In addition, they are required to submit an additional a 12-month evaluation, a 24-month evaluation. All validation must be reported to the DSO using Babson's STEM OPT Validation form.

  • 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 to the ISSS team 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.

A student who has a pending STEM OPT application may switch their employers. However, they must report the change of employer to the ISSS team and update pending STEM OPT application by submitting additional documents in myUSCIS.

  1. Submit STEM OPT Change of Employment form to the ISSS team within 10 days 
    • New employment must meet the STEM OPT employment eligibility criteria
  2. ISSS advisor will review the submission and make necessary changes to your STEM OPT employer details, then issue an updated I-20 with the new employer information
  3. We recommend for you to upload the following documents in the pending OPT STEM Extension application in myUSCIS:
    • Cover letter explaining why you are providing additional documents, provide new employer E-verify # and your pending USCIS case #
    • Copy of USCIS receipt notice 
    • Copy of new STEM OPT I-20 (with updated employer information)

If you have reported loss of employment & do not have a new employer to report yet, it is strongly advised to find a new one and take the steps listed above as soon as possible. While students are allowed to accrue a limited number of unemployment time, if you have lost your employment on which your STEM OPT extension application was based, USCIS may deny your STEM OPT application. 

  • A change or loss of employment to ISSS team must be reported within 10 days
  • Use STEM OPT Change of Employment form to provide necessary details to the ISSS team
  • All employment must meet STEM OPT Extension eligibility criteria before a student can begin employment
  • A new Form I-983 is needed for each new employer and must be submitted
  • If your STEM OPT extension period has started, a final evaluation on pg. 5 of Form I-983 must be completed and singed by you and by your previous employer 

Requests & Submissions

Additional Information

Students with STEM OPT extensions are permitted an additional 60 days of unemployment, which is equal to up to 150 days total between standard post-completion OPT and the STEM OPT extension. Any changes to STEM OPT employment, including unemployment must be reported to ISSS using the STEM OPT Change of Employment Reporting Form.

Students may obtain multiple employers during STEM extension period.

However, all employers must meet the STEM OPT employment eligibility criteria and all employers must be reported to DSO with a completed Form I-983. 

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.