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Read Smith’s UPDATED plans as of August 5, 2020,
for an entirely remote fall 2020 semester.

STEM OPT Extension

Confirming Your STEM OPT Status

You must confirm usage of your STEM OPT every six months from the start date of STEM OPT, until the end of the 24-month STEM extension. Please report the name and address of current employer and your current residential address to the ISSO. Failure to report will terminate your OPT STEM status.

Students who majored in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields may apply for an additional 24-month extension of their OPT authorization. You may begin your STEM extension application up to 90 days before the end of your Post-Completion OPT, and it must be received by USCIS before your current OPT expires. With the receipt of your application, you may continue to work up to 180 days while waiting for your new STEM-approved EAD card. See text on your I-797 Receipt Notice for details.

  • Astronomy
  • Biochemistry
  • Biological Sciences
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Economics(Quantitative Economics track only)
  • Engineering
  • Environmental Science & Policy
  • Geosciences
  • Mathematics & Statistics
  • Neuroscience
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Statistical & Data Sciences

To Apply for STEM OPT

  1. Collect your application documents (see list in next column).
  2. Email ISSO the Form I-983 completed by you and your employer, and Smith’s OPT Request Form.
  3. In addition, email the I-765 that will go into your STEM OPT application.
  4. ISSO will review these documents and mail you a new I-20, extending your employment dates and recommending your STEM OPT Extension. We will keep your I-983 and your OPT Request Form for our records, since you are not required to mail them as part of your STEM OPT application.
  5. Once you receive your new I-20 with our STEM OPT recommendation on page 2, assemble your application and mail it. USCIS must receive this application within 60 days of when we issue the new I-20, and before the last date of your Post-Completion OPT.

Tips for Completing STEM OPT I-765

  • If you need extra space for any field, use space in Part 6: Additional Information.
  • USCIS instructions state that all questions on their forms must be fully and accurately answered. If a question does not apply to you, type or print "N/A" or "none", unless otherwise directed.
  • Part 1: Even though STEM OPT is an extension of work authorization, it's a new eligibility category and therefore another initial application.
  • 15–17 Note: If you answer "No" on 14, you do not need to fill in Sections 15–17.
  • 21.c.: For use only for those who are unable to obtain a passport.
  • 22–24: Information should match printed I-94 record and travel history. If it does not, please contact ISSO.
  • 26: Provide all previously used SEVIS ID numbers. If you have had more than one SEVIS ID, "additional information" sheet (page 7) can be used to list prior records.
  • 27: OPT STEM extension eligibility category: (c)(3)(C).
  • 28.a.–28.c.: Provide degree level and major (for example, bachelor’s degree in English), employer’s name as listed in E-Verify, your employer’s E-Verify Company Identification Number, or a valid E-Verify Client Company Identification Number in the spaces provided. Your employer's E-Verify number should come from their Human Resources or Legal office and is not the same as the EIN (Employer Identification Number). If you need additional space, you can use Part 6: Additional Information!
  • 29–31: Leave blank, if these eligibility categories do not apply to you.
  • 7.a. Sign in BLACK pen under "Applicant’s Signature," and make sure to stay within the white space! Stamped or typewritten signatures are not acceptable.

Tips for Completing I-983

Tips from from Study in the States—USCIS website.

Page 5: These are evaluations that should be completed at the 1-year and 2-year marks of your STEM OPT Extension. You do not need to submit them with your STEM OPT Extension application, but you do need to submit them to ISSO when you pass the halfway mark of your 2-year extension, and again at 2 years or whenever you finish your employment with the company, whichever comes first.

Form I-983 is submitted to Smith ISSO, but not to be included in final application to USCIS.


Assembling Your Materials

Assemble the following, and attach on left-hand side in this order. See I-765 Instructions for more details.

  • Two recent passport size (2” x 2”) color photos, with name & I-94 number written LIGHTLY in pencil on back.
  • $410 USD Check or Money Order (Will go up to $550 as of October 2, 2020) —payable to “US Department of Homeland Security” OR signed Credit Card FormG-1450
  • (Optional) Form G-1145—For email and/or text message notifications about updates to your application.
  • Original Form I-765
  • Copy of letter of employment
  • Your Smith College transcript, showing your major as a STEM-extension eligible field.
  • Copy of current or previous EAD (OPT card), front and back.
  • Copy of signed new STEM OPT I-20 from ISSO, signed by you (in BLUE ink!)
  • Copy of photo page in your current passport
  • Copy of F-1 entry visa page from passport (even if expired)
  • Copy of most recent entry stamp in your passport
  • Most recent I-94 arrival record

Make copies of all documents you submit for travel purposes.

Shipping Information

If you live in: Mail your application to:
Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Guam, or the Northern Mariana islands

USCIS Phoenix Lockbox

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries:

P.O. Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036

For express mail and courier deliveries:

Attn: AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands, or West Virginia

USCIS Dallas Lockbox

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) deliveries:

P.O. Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

For express mail and courier deliveries:

Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy, 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

You will be notified once your application has been received and again when it’s approved (12+ weeks) by USCIS. They will send an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) card directly to your mailing address. Once you have your receipt number from USCIS, you can check the status of your case. Please note: Unlike Post-Completion OPT, you may continue to work while your STEM OPT application is pending. Your hardcopy receipt is proof that your EAD is automatically extended up to 180 days after expiry, or until your application is adjudicated by USCIS, whichever is sooner.

You have reporting responsibilities once you have received your new STEM OPT card and are working in a STEM field.

You must confirm your STEM OPT usage to Smith every six months. Mark your calendar, now! Please send us a confirmation of your address and employment information (employer, job title, employer address). You must also submit a Self-Evaluation (Page 5 of the I-983) to the ISSO when you pass the one-year mark of your two-year extension, and again at two years or whenever you finish your employment with the company, whichever comes first.

Please notify the International Students & Scholars Office, at or through our OPT Update Form, within 10 days of any change of the following:

  • Legal name change
  • Residential or mailing address change
  • Employer name change
  • Employer address change
  • Loss of employment

There are additional restrictions surrounding employment using your STEM OPT.

  • Each new employer requires a new Form I-983. The ISSO must have receipt of your updated I-983 prior to your start date at the new position.
  • Every employer must be an e-Verify employer.
  • Self-employment is not allowed during STEM OPT.
  • Unpaid work is not allowed on STEM OPT.
  • Third-party employers (staffing and temporary agencies and consulting firms) only qualify for STEM OPT usage if they will be the entity that provides the practical training experience to the student and they have and maintain a bona fide employer-employee relationship with the student. More information can be found on USCIS' STEM OPT site or on Study in the States.

During your Post-Completion OPT, you are allowed a maximum of 90 days of unemployment. If there are any days remaining at the end of your authorization period, those unemployment days will roll over into your STEM OPT authorization. In addition, STEM OPT affords 60 additional unemployment days, for a maximum total of 150 days.

A STEM OPT Extension can be based on two scenarios:

  • The degree that served as the basis for the student's current period of standard 12-month Post-Completion OPT
  • A prior STEM degree from a US institution, for which the STEM OPT extension was not utilized. This can be used even if the degree was conferred by a different institution than the current I-20 shows.

If you plan to utilize a prior degree as the basis for your STEM OPT, the degree must be from a US institution and be conferred within the last 10 years. Please note: If you use a STEM OPT extension, the practical training opportunity MUST relate to the STEM-eligible degree.

An example use of a prior degree:

  • Student earns a BA in Biology. Student decides not to utilize their STEM OPT.
  • Student then completes an MBA program (which is a non-STEM program).
  • Student utilizes 12 months of Post-Completion OPT based on the MBA program.
  • Student can then apply for a 24-month STEM OPT extension, based on the Biology degree, as long as the qualifying job relates back to the Biology major.  (Determining the relation between the STEM OPT job and the prior degree field should be done with the current visa sponsor, who will process the STEM OPT application.)




International Students and Scholars

125 Wright Hall
Smith College
Northampton, MA USA

Phone: 413-585-7598
Fax: 413-585-4982

Open office hours: Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, from 2:30–4 p.m.