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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.

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.

Eligibility for Babson Students

The full-time graduate MS programs and two MBA concentrations listed above are the only Babson programs eligible for a STEM OPT extension.

Babson students may also qualify 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.

To qualify for a 24-month STEM OPT extension, an F-1 student must:

  • Have completed a degree in an eligible STEM field from a SEVP certified U.S. school.
  • Currently in and have maintained lawful F-1 status during the standard 12 month period of OPT.
  • Have employment through an employer enrolled in USCIS's E-Verify employment eligibility verification program.
  • Work with the employer to complete a formal training agreement (I-983) and learning objectives.
  • Be employed at least 20 hours per week in a position directly related to the STEM degree.

For detailed information about STEM OPT, visit SEVP’s Study in the States' STEM OPT Help Hub.

Contact ISSS at isss@babson.edu to inquire about applying for a STEM OPT Extension.

STEM OPT Student Responsibilities

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. For a complete list of all reporting requirements, visit the STEM OPT HUB.  Students should continue to check their Babson email account for SEVP Portal alerts.

STEM OPT Validation Requirement (6, 12, 18 and 24 months)

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 (with Final I-983 evaluation, page 5)

Students can submit the validation form within 30 days prior 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.

Change or Loss of Employment During STEM OPT

  • 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. 

STEM OPT Employer Site Visits 

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.

Travel During STEM OPT 

Carry these required documents with you when you travel during your STEM OPT extension:

  • Valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD) showing your approved STEM OPT extension
  • Most recent Form I-20 with valid travel signature (less than six months old)
  • Proof of employment - evidence of a job offer or resumption of employment
  • Valid passport - must be valid at least six months into the future
  • Valid F-1 visa - if your F-1 visa has expired you will need to apply for a new one at a U.S. consulate outside the U.S. 
    • Canadians do not need an F-1 visa
    • Do not enter as a tourist throughout your STEM OPT period.

If you need to leave the U.S. before receiving your STEM OPT EAD, contact isss@babson.edu.

If your employer has filed for an H-1B visa on your behalf, check with your employer about any travel plans as leaving the U.S. while an H-1B application is pending may jeopardize your application.