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Santa Clara University

STEM OPT Extension

The STEM OPT Extension helps SCU's international alumni enhance their education through practical training and hands-on experience. SCU alumni with degrees in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) can apply for an additional 24 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT) -- this is known as the STEM OPT Extension.

Start your STEM OPT Extension application early!

We recommend that you begin your STEM OPT extension application process 4 months before your post-completion OPT EAD card expires.

STEM OPT Extension Process

  1. Review SCU's STEM OPT Extension Website and Videos
  2. Prepare your I-983 Training Plan
  3. Email your completed STEM OPT Extension I-20 Request (including your completed I-983 Training Plan)
  4. Receive your new STEM OPT Extension I-20
  5. Submit your STEM OPT Extension Application to USCIS

Introduction to STEM OPT Extension at SCU

We recommend submitting your STEM OPT Extension I-20 Request with completed I-983 Training Plan to our office about 4 months before your card expires. You can submit your STEM OPT Extension application to USCIS up to 90 days before your current OPT EAD Card expires. 

Requesting your STEM OPT Extension I-20

It is critical that your get a new I-20 with a STEM OPT extension recommendation on page 2 before you submit your online application to USCIS. To request your new STEM OPT I-20, you will submit a STEM OPT I-20 Request to the International Students and Scholars team for processing. We answer common questions below:

Your request for a new I-20 recommending your STEM OPT Extension will be submitted via email to ISS@scu.edu. The email must include:

  • Subject Line: STEM OPT Request (Your Student ID#)
  • Attach your completed STEM OPT Extension I-20 Request
  • Attach your completed
  • Attach a copy of your current EAD Card

We will accept verified electronic signatures on all ISS forms (as well as the I-983 Training Plan).

If you opt for the electronic signature, the signature must have a verification mark or be an signature. Typed signatures or signatures with a typed appearance are not accepted. Programs such as DocuSign or Adobe Sign have this feature. Please see below for an example.

Electronic I-20s: While the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced that I-20s can be electronically signed, we do not have clear guidance on whether other government agencies which are not within SEVP's jurisdiction, such as Department of State for visa appointments and Customs and Border Protection for entering the U.S., will accept electronic signatures. Therefore, ISS is not issuing I-20s with electronic signatures at this time.

STEM OPT extension applications: Your I-983 training Plan can be either hand signed or we will accept verified electronic signatures. Your STEM OPT I-20 and Form I-765 must be hand signed prior to mailing your STEM OPT extension application to USCIS. 

Once we receive your STEM OPT Extension I-20 Request along with your completed Training Plan (I-983) and the copy of your EAD Card, we will review your request within 10 business days. Business days are Monday to Friday, and do not include university holidays.

If your request is complete, we will issue your new I-20 recommending the STEM OPT Extension.

If your request is missing documents or requires correction, we will contact you to correct and resubmit your request.

Once our team creates your new I-20 showing the STEM OPT extension recommendation on page 2, we will email you and give you the option to either collect the I-20 from our office during our document pick-up hours, or pay to have it shipped to you.

You must have this new STEM OPT Extension I-20 in order to file your online STEM OPT Extension application. If you file the application without an STEM OPT Extension I-20 the application will be denied and it may be too late to re-apply.

STEM OPT Application Deadlines

Your STEM OPT Extension Application must be properly recieved by USCIS before your OPT EAD Card expires and no more than 60 days after your new STEM OPT Extension I-20 is created by ISS.

Submit Your Online STEM OPT Extension Application to USCIS

Once you have your new I-20 showing the STEM OPT Extension recommendation on page 2, you can prepare and file your STEM OPT Extension application. This application is submitted via USCIS online filing system. 

We have a detailed instructions below:

We recommend that you collect all required documents before you log in to the USCIS online system. You can save them in a folder on your computer. Be sure to label the documents clearly and follow the size, format and labeling guidelines below.

During the Online OPT Application Process, you will be asked to upload evidence to support your application, this includes electronic copies of the following documents:

Evidence 
(as listed in online filing system)
Instructions
2 x 2 photo of you

Upload your Passport Photo
See “Photo Requirements” in the online filing system.
U.S. Department of State photo requirements
U.S. Department of State Photo Check Tool

You can take these photos at home or pay to have them done professionally.

Form I-94 Upload your most recent I-94
Access your most recent I-94 here
Employment Authorization Document Upload your valid passport biographical page
AND
Upload your OPT EAD Card
Form I-20 Upload all 3 pages of your New I-20 (showing OPT recommendation on page 2)
Make sure to sign the I-20 on page 1
You do not need to include other prior I-20s here
College degree Upload your SCU diploma (this is mailed to you after graduation)
AND
Upload your SCU transcripts (you can order these on eCampus under "academics" and "transcripts")
Institution accreditation DO NOT upload anything here.
This section is only for students who are applying for STEM OPT based on a prior degree (usually not at SCU). The ISS team will tell you if this applies to you (it applies to less than 1 student per year).


  

In order to submit your OPT application online you will need to create a USCIS account.

You can create a USCIS account here: https://myaccount.uscis.gov/users/sign_up

To do so you will need to provide your email address (do not use your SCU email address, as this will be deactivated after graduation).

 

The final step in the online filing system is submitting your filing fee. 

This can be paid via ACH (bank transfer) or via debit/credit card (drawn on a U.S. account).

This does not need to be your personal bank account, debit or credit card (it's okay to use that of a family member or friend).

The money is withdrawn immediately.

Once you submit the payment, you have submitted the application and are not able to go back and edit anything.

Once your Application has been Mailed

If your STEM OPT Extension application was received by USCIS before the expiration of your OPT EAD Card, you may continue to work without interruption, even after your current OPT EAD Card expires.

  • Once you submit your application you will immediately get a receipt notice in the online system
  • A receipt notice will also be mailed to you
  • You can  using your USCIS receipt number
  • The  for about 3-6 months
  • We recommend that you  until your case has been approved
  • You can either email iss@scu.edu or schedule OPT / STEM OPT Express Advising if you have any questions

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Once your Application has been Approved

  • You will receive an approval notice and your official OPT EAD Card in the mail
  • Upload a copy of your card and report your employment to our office (this is required)
  • Continue to  and  to our office (this is required)
  • Do not exceed your allotted unemployment (60 days + whatever is leftover from your post-completion OPT)
  • Notify ISS of material changes to your employment that impact your Training Plan (Form I-983)
  • Submit your Self-Evaluation at the 12 and 24 month point in your STEM OPT
  • Respond to our 6 month check-in emails
  • You can either email iss@scu.edu or schedule OPT / STEM OPT Express Advising if you have any questions.

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STEM OPT Reporting Obligations

When the report is due: within 10 days of any change to your contact information

What you must keep up to date: all contact information, including U.S. residential address, U.S. phone number, foreign phone number, and prefered email address

How to report: login to ecampus and update your contact information

Questions? Email iss@scu.edu or schedule a zoom advising appointment

When the report is due: once you get your STEM OPT Extension EAD card in the mail.

What you will be asked to report: an uploaded copy of your STEM OPT EAD Card

How to report: visit scu.edu/reportopt to submit all STEM OPT extension reports

Tips: contact iss@scu.edu if you find any errors or typos on your card

Questions? Email iss@scu.edu or schedule a zoom advising appointment

 

When the report is due: within 10 days of your last day at work

What you will be asked to report: Name of your prior company, the end date of employment, and a summary evaluation from prior employer

How to report: visit scu.edu/reportopt to submit all STEM OPT extension reports

Tips

  • The Summary Evaluation from your prior employer should be submitted using the "Evaluation of Student Progress" section on page 6 of your I-983 Training Plan. This self-evaluation should be completed by you and signed by you and your employer. The dates of your evaluation should cover your time with the employer during your STEM OPT period. Make sure that your summary evaluation dates are the start date of STEM OPT extension employment through your last day of STEM OPT extension employment with that employer only (i.e. do not include OPT employment dates or other dates while you worked with other STEM OPT employers).


Questions? Email iss@scu.edu or schedule a zoom advising appointment

When the report is due: within 10 days of your change of employment

What you will be asked to report:

  • Name of your prior company, the end date of employment, and a summary evaluation from prior employer
  • Name of your new company, start date of employment, and new I-983 Training Plan from your new employer

How to report: visit scu.edu/reportopt to submit all STEM OPT extension reports

Tips:  

  • The Summary Evaluation from your prior employer should be submitted using the "Evaluation of Student Progress" section on page 6 of your I-983 Training Plan. This self-evaluation should be completed by you and signed by you and your employer. The dates of your evaluation should cover your time with the employer during your STEM OPT period. Make sure that your summary evaluation dates are the start date of STEM OPT extension employment through your last day of STEM OPT extension employment with that employer only (i.e. do not include OPT employment dates or other dates while you worked with other STEM OPT employers).
  • Make sure that the new I-983 Training Plan meets all requirements, the most common errors are:
    • The form is completed and signed. All text is legible (readable). No text is cut-off or missing.
    • The start date of page 2 is the date (in the future) that I will begin my STEM OPT employment with the company. It is not the date (in the past) that I started working for the company on CPT or OPT.
    • The Other Compensation box on page 2 lists “standard corporate benefits” or lists all forms of compensation I am offered (including health insurance), even if I do not use the benefit. If you are not offered any benefits, list N/A.
    • The site location on page 3 is a complete address (including city, state and zip code) and is the exact location where I work on a day-to-day basis.

Questions? Email iss@scu.edu or schedule a zoom advising appointment

When the report is due: within 10 days of the material change

What you will be asked to report: The nature of the material change and an updated I-983 Training Plan, updated to reflect the change.

How to report: visit scu.edu/reportopt to submit all STEM OPT extension reports

Tips: Examples of Material Changes include:

  • Change of work location
  • Changes to company information on page 2
  • Substantial change to goals, objectives, supervision or evaluation
  • Substantial changes to salary, hours, or benefits

Questions? Email iss@scu.edu or schedule a zoom advising appointment

When the report is due: at the 6 month point of your STEM OPT Extension period.

What you will be asked to report:

  • Your current U.S. residential address.
  • The full legal name of your current company.
  • Your current work location.

How to report: visit scu.edu/reportopt to submit all STEM OPT extension reports

Tips

  • Your current U.S. residential address should match eCampus
  • The full legal name of your current company should match your pay-stubs and page 2 of your I-983 Training Plan
  • Your work location should be the address where you work, and should match page 3 of your I-983 Training Plan


Questions? Email iss@scu.edu or schedule a zoom advising appointment

When the report is due: at the 12 month point of your STEM OPT Extension period.

What you will be asked to report:

  • Your current U.S. residential address.
  • The full legal name of your current company.
  • Your current work location.
  • 12 month evaluation (upload)

How to report: visit scu.edu/reportopt to submit all STEM OPT extension reports

Tips

  • Your current U.S. residential address should match eCampus
  • The full legal name of your current company should match your pay-stubs and page 2 of your I-983 Training Plan
  • Your work location should be the address where you work, and should match page 3 of your I-983 Training Plan
  • The 12 month Evaluation should be submitted using the "Evaluation of Student Progress" section on page 6 of your I-983 Training Plan. This self-evaluation should be completed by you and signed by you and your employer. The dates of your evaluation should cover your time with the employer during your STEM OPT period.

Questions? Email iss@scu.edu or schedule a zoom advising appointment

When the report is due: at the 18 month point of your STEM OPT Extension period.

What you will be asked to report:

  • Your current U.S. residential address.
  • The full legal name of your current company.
  • Your current work location.

How to report: visit scu.edu/reportopt to submit all STEM OPT extension reports

Tips

  • Your current U.S. residential address should match eCampus
  • The full legal name of your current company should match your pay-stubs and page 2 of your I-983 Training Plan
  • Your work location should be the address where you work, and should match page 3 of your I-983 Training Plan

Questions? Email iss@scu.edu or schedule a zoom advising appointment

When the report is due: at the end of your STEM OPT employment or the 24 month point of your STEM OPT Extension period, whichever comes first.

What you will be asked to report:

  • Your current U.S. residential address.
  • The full legal name of your current company.
  • Your current work location.
  • 24 month / Final Evaluation (upload)

How to report: visit scu.edu/reportopt to submit all STEM OPT extension reports

Tips

  • This report is due at the end date of your STEM OPT employment (either at the 24 month mark, or earlier, if you leave the U.S. or change from F-1 status earlier).
  • Your current U.S. residential address should match eCampus
  • The full legal name of your current company should match your pay-stubs and page 2 of your I-983 Training Plan
  • Your work location should be the address where you work, and should match page 3 of your I-983 Training Plan
  • The 24 month / Final Evaluation should be submitted using the "Final Evaluation of Student Progress" section on page 6 of your I-983 Training Plan. This self-evaluation should be completed by you and signed by you and your employer. The dates of your evaluation should cover your time with the employer during your STEM OPT period (not already covered by prior submitted evaluations)

Questions? Email iss@scu.edu or schedule a zoom advising appointment

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