24-Month STEM OPT Extension ONLINE Application - Step-by-Step Guide
On 4/12/2021, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that F-1 students seeking Optional Practical Training (OPT) can now file their form I-765 online if filling under the pre-completion, post-completion and the STEM extension categories. FIU ISSS provides all the instructions and steps below. Please follow all the steps carefully- this submission is your responsibility and any mistake or omission on your part may cause your process to be denied. Please be aware that ISSS will provide courtesy advise once you have received the endorsed I-20 which we will provide.
Students can apply for the 24-month STEM OPT extension up to 90 days prior to the expiration of the first 12 months of “regular” OPT. The online application must be received by USCIS prior to the expiration date of your OPT period in order to be timely filed. USCIS will not accept I-765 applications for STEM extensions any earlier than 90 days before the current (OPT) EAD expiration date. You will apply online via the USCIS I-765 online form.
IMPORTANT:DO NOT apply online for STEM OPT extension with USCIS until you have received the Form I-20 with the DSO recommendation. Filing without endorsed I-20 may get your application denied.
USCIS is the agency that will be processing your application and it is your responsibility to comply with all application requirements.
Step 1- PREPARE YOUR DOCUMENTS
1- Complete Immigration Form I-983: Download the form by visiting the USCIS website at https://www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Document/2016/i983.pdf. Complete with your employer (Pg. 1-4)
2- PAY STEM OPT Maintenance Fee in the amount of $250.00 -One-time non-refundable compulsory maintenance fee required to process your STEM Extension OPT Application and maintain your F1 student record at FIU while you are in STEM OPT. Maintenance Fee can be paid online by visiting this website https://issscart.fiu.edu/You must submit your confirmation email in order to process your STEM OPT application. Please make sure you read the OPT Maintenance Fee REFUND POLICY
3- Copy of Diploma and/or FIU transcript- Transcripts are order online via your myFIU
Step 2- SUBMIT YOUR REQUEST TO ISSS FOR ENDORSED I-201-Upload all the documents to the ISSS portal
Once you’ve logged into the portal, please select: F-1 Practical Training Applications > STEM OPT Endorsed I-20 Request and upload these docuemnts:
- Completed Immigration Form I-983
- STEM OPT Maintenance Fee confirmation email
- Copy of Diploma and/or FIU transcript
- Most Recent I-94
- F-1 Visa
- OPT EAD card
2-Once you upload all your documents, a DSO will process your STEM OPT I-20 – allow 5-7 business days for processing
3-A DSO will email your STEM OPT-endorsed I-20. Emails are sent to your FIU email account (please check your spam folder).
4-Make sure to sign your OPT endorsed I-20 (sign in ink and date) scan it to submit in your USCIS online application.
Step 3- APPLY ONLINE WITH UCSIS
Instructions on how to submit Form I-765 online:
As you move through the application you will be prompted with the documents required to apply. Please have the following documents ready to upload:
- Most Recent I-94: I-94 showing F/1 status
- Passport photo page (must be valid for at least 6 months) Special Exceptions only apply to Venezuelan citizens
- F-1 Visa stamp page- (visa may be expired)
- STEM OPT-endorsed Form I-20
- Any prior I-20s that have CPT (if applicable)
- Any prior OPT EAD card (if applicable)
- Copy of Diploma and/or FIU transcript
- Color photos – Specific instructions will be provided within the online application. Photos are accepted in .jpeg, .jpg or .png format. We recommend using the Photo Tool on that website to check your photo meets requirements.
The following guidelines relate to the most confusing parts of the form and are offered as a courtesy only.
Please consult an immigration attorney if you are unsure about any aspects of the USCIS online application.
- Click on “File a Form Online” and then select “Application for Employment Authorization (I-765)”.
- Filing Codes:
- (C)(3)(C) Student STEM OPT Extension eligibility category
- E-verify Number: the number should be 5-6 digits and your Human Resources might provide you with this information. Do not confuse E-verify with EIN number. Optional Practical Training Extension for STEM Students (STEM OPT) | USCIS
- STEM degree CIP Code – Please refer to the program section of your I-20 for CIP code and STEM degree name
- Select “Renewal permission to accept employment”
- Name: please enter your name as listed in your passport
- Mailing address: your EAD card will be delivered via postal mail. It is important to use a mailing address that will be reliable for the next four months.
- If it is a friend’s address, then make sure to add their name to the “In care of name” field of the form.
- If your mailing address changes before your OPT is approved, then you must inform USCIS directly otherwise you may not receive your EAD card.
- Physical address: enter the address where you are currently living, if it is different from your mailing address. It is OK if this changes when your STEM OPT application is pending.
- Travel document: if you have a passport then it is unlikely that you will have a travel document
- A-number: Type the A-number (USCIS number) from your OPT EAD card
- Social Security Number (SSN): please enter your SSN if you have one already.
- Employment Authorization Document or Government ID upload: we recommend you upload the biographical page of your passport, and your visa stamp (if applicable) into this section
- I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status upload: upload your STEM OPT-endorsed I-20.
- Make sure you have signed the I-20 – in ink – in the student certification section. Please note: Student signatures on an I-20 that are electronic (typed or other digital formats) are not accepted by USCIS.
- The STEM OPT online application must be received by USCIS within 30 days of the date that the DSO issues the STEM OPT I-20. If filed with USCIS after 30 days of the STEM OPT I-20 issuance date, your application will be denied. Contact ISSS if you are applying more than 30 days since your STEM OPT was recommended.
- Additional information: in most cases no additional information is needed in this field
- Review any alerts or warnings and double check all data before moving to the application fee payment. Once your fee has been paid you will not be able to return to edit the form. The application fee can be paid by credit or with debit card.
- You should receive an electronic receipt notice by email shortly after you have successfully submitted the form and paid the fee. A paper receipt notice should follow in the mail within a few weeks. If you do not receive the paper notice in the mail, then you should follow up with USCIS. Non-delivery of your receipt notice is an indication that there may be a mail issue that could later affect your STEM OPT EAD delivery.
Step 4- APPROVED STEM OPT APPLICATIONS
- EAD CARD: Per U.S. regulations 8 CFR 214.2(f)(11)(i)(C), “a student who has timely filed an application for a 24-month STEM OPT extension with USCIS may work for the STEM OPT employer while the STEM extension application is pending, for up to 180 days beyond the expiration of his or her prior post-completion OPT EAD”. If an application for a 24-month extension is Approved, USCIS will issue an EAD with a validity period that starts on the day after the expiration date stated on the 12-month OPT EAD. You must provide ISSS with a copy of your STEM EAD Card to update your record by visiting the FIU ISSS Panther Portal.
- Please visit the USCIS website for detail information on STEM OPT responsibilities Optional Practical Training Extension for STEM Students (STEM OPT) | USCIS
- All reporting requirements must be done using the FIU ISSS Panther Portal
You are required to make a validation report to ISSS every six months starting from the date your 24-month OPT starts. The report is due within 10 days of the required reporting date. Visit the FIU ISSS Panther Portal in order to submit your STEM OPT reporting
- 6 Month Reporting: Use the eform to submit your validation report. The validation report must contain the following information: Legal Name, Residential/mailing address, Employer name, Employer address
- 12 Month Reporting: Submit eform along with form I-983 (Pg.5) Evaluation of student progress
- 18 Month Reporting: Use the eform to submit your validation report. The validation report must contain the following information: Legal Name, Residential/mailing address, Employer name, Employer address
- 24 Month Reporting: Submit form I-983 (Pg.5) Final evaluation on student progress
CHANGING EMPLOYERS: When changing employers while in STEM OPT, students must update ISSS by using FIU ISSS Panther Portal and submit Form I-983 (Pg.1-4) from new employer and Form I-983 (Pg.5) from former employer.
INTERRUPTION OF EMPLOYMENT: If you experience an interruption in employment, you must report it to ISSS by using FIU ISSS Panther Portal
ADDITIONAL USEFUL INFORMATION