Immigration Law Associates
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OPT Extension for STEM Degree Students

All F-1 students are eligible for 12 months of post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) for work related to their field of study. For those who have completed a Bachelor's, Master's or PhD degree in certain science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) fields, and whose employers are enrolled in the e-Verify employment verification program, OPT can now be extended to 36 months.

The extension is based on the student's major, which is listed on the I-20, and is available one time per eligible student. The extension application may be filed up to 90 days prior to the expiration of post-completion OPT. It must be filed before the initial 12 months of post-completion OPT has ended.


Eligible CIP Codes
For a detailed list of CIP codes that are eligible for the 24 month STEM extension, please visit


How can I find the CIP code for my field of study?
The CIP code is listed on a student's I-20 form. It can be found on the first page of the I-20 in the "Program of Study" section.


Maintaining Continuous Employment
An individual who has properly filed for a STEM OPT extension prior to the expiration of the initial 12 months of post-completion OPT may continue working for up to 180 days while USCIS adjudicates the application. The application can be made up to 90 days before the end of the first year of OPT.

If you become unemployed while on OPT, you may remain in the U.S. for an aggregate of 90 days during the initial 12-month OPT period. However, those who are granted a 24 month STEM extension are granted an additional 60 days of allowable unemployment time. In either case, you are expected to leave the U.S. before accumulating more than the maximum allowable unemployment time. You also have the option to re-enroll in school, or change your status.


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