STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) | Current International Students

Students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields may qualify to apply for an additional 24 months of work authorization beyond their initial 12 months of standard post-completion OPT. Students are limited to one STEM extension per level of study, but may be eligible for a second STEM extension after completing an additional STEM degree at a higher level. Not all STEM fields are designated for this extension. The list of eligible STEM fields is available on the Department of Homeland Security website. More details about the STEM extension are explained at

STEM OPT Eligibility

To be eligible for STEM OPT, you must:

Please note that unpaid positions, self-employment, and working for a staffing company or temporary agency generally do not qualify as employment for a STEM extension.

STEM OPT Application

CU STEM OPT Information and Extension Request Form can be found through the International Student Support Canvas course or through directly emailing a DSO.

Reporting Requirements While on STEM OPT

Because your F-1 status continues during STEM OPT, you are required by law to report changes to certain information within 10 days. You can report these changes using the OPT Verification Form so the International Student Advisor can record them in SEVIS. These changes include:

6-Month Reporting

Every six (6) months from the start date of your STEM OPT authorization, you must complete an OPT Verification Form about your employment. Reporting is necessary even if nothing has changed with your employer. OGE will reach out to you to provide a reminder prior to the 6 month date, but it is your responsibility to submit this form in a timely way. Please make sure that you provide your current email address to OGE so that they can easily contact you.

12-Month Reporting

While on approved STEM OPT, you must write an annual self-evaluation and must report to the International Student Advisor about the progress of your training experience. Complete the evaluation section of Form I-983 (page 6 or 7) and send an electronic copy to your international student advisor, who will include it with your record.

Periods of Unemployment during STEM OPT

During STEM OPT maintaining your F-1 status is dependent upon employment. You may not accrue an aggregate of more than 150 days of unemployment during the total OPT period comprising your initial post-completion OPT and the subsequent 24-month STEM extension. Each day during the authorized OPT period that you do not have qualifying employment counts as a day of unemployment.

More Information

Contact an OGE Advisor for more information.

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