F-1 Student Visa Optional Practical Training STEM Extension

F-1 OPT Benefits

Priority for this extension is given to students who’ve majored in a science, technology, engineering or mathematics field.


The STEM-based OPT extension provides an additional two years of work authorization beyond the initial F-1 OPT authorization of 12 months.

Key Takeaways

Once all extensions are used, the foreign national can pursue a green card, but travel restrictions apply throughout the process.


Employers must be enrolled in E-Verify for the foreign national to receive approval for an F-1 OPT STEM extension.

COLLAPSE/EXPAND ALL
Who’s eligible for F-1 OPT sponsorship?

• Foreign nationals with F-1 OPT student status studying at a U.S. college or university.
• Students who have exhausted their initial 12 months of OPT eligibility.
• Students who hold a STEM-eligible degree.

Length of F-1 OPT work authorization

This extension grants an additional two years of work authorization for STEM students who complete their initial 12 months of optional practical training.

F-1 OPT extension options

No extension after the 24 months elapse.

Green card sponsorship

Once all extensions are used, the foreign national can pursue a green card, but travel restrictions apply throughout the process. However, it may be simpler to transfer the worker to a dual intent visa, such as an H-1B before the green card petition is filed.

Frequently asked questions

With an F-1 STEM OPT Extension, what are my responsibilities as an employer?
Select responsibilities include:
• Maintaining enrollment and good standing in E-Verify.
• Create and implement a formal training program to supplement the student’s academic learning through practical experience.
• Provide an OPT work program that is comparable with situations of U.S. workers’ duties, hours and compensation.
What are the students' reporting responsibilities of a STEM OPT Extension?
Reporting responsibilities include alerting the designated school official within 10 days of changes to the following:
• Your legal name
• Your residential or mailing address
• Your email address
• Your employer’s name
• Your employer’s address

Additionally, you’ll need to confirm the information above hasn’t changed every six months.

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