Graduate Studies

STEM Extension OPT

Who is eligible for the 24-month OPT STEM extension?

  • Students who have been approved for 12 months of post-completion OPT; and
  • Who have earned a degree in a field included on the US Government’s list of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields; and
  • Who are employed in a job directly related to his/her field of study; and
  • Who are working for an employer that is enrolled in the US Government’s E-Verify program.

Please note: all four of the above criteria must be met in order for a student to be eligible for the 24-month OPT extension.

What is E-Verify?

  • E-Verify is a database system operated by the Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the Social Security Administration. It allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of newly-hired employees.. For more information visit: www.dhs.gov/e-verify.

When should one apply for the 24-month OPT STEM extension?

  • Students may apply for this extension 90 days prior to the expiration of the first 12 months of regular OPT. The application must be received by USCIS prior to the expiration date of the first OPT period in order to be properly filed.

Limitations on Unemployment:

  • Students approved for the 24-month OPT extension may not accrue more than 150 days of unemployment during the total 36-month period of OPT. Employment must be paid and must be related to the field of study in order to qualify. Self-employment and volunteer positions will not qualify as valid employment for OPT purposes during the special 24-month OPT extension.

Starting and Ending Dates:

  • The start date of the 24-month OPT extension will be automatically set to the day after the expiration of the current 12-month OPT authorization. The end date will be 24 months later. It is not possible to request smaller increments of time for this extension.

How do I apply for STEM EXT?

 

WIU degrees that are eligible for STEM Extension

Undergraduate

  • Biology, BS
  • Business Analytics, BB
  • Civil Engineering, BS
  • Chemistry, BS
  • Clinical Laboratory Science, BS
  • Compute Science, BS
  • Electrical Engineering, BS
  • Engineering Technology, BS
  • Engineering, BS
  • Forensic Chemistry, BS
  • Geographic Information Science, BS
  • Geology, BS
  • Information Systems, BS
  • Mathematics, BS
  • Mechanical Engineering, BS
  • Meteorology, BS
  • Network Technologies, BS
  • Physics, BS

 Graduate

  • Applied Statistics and Design Sciences, MS
  • Biology, MS
  • Chemistry, MS
  • Computer Science, MS
  • Engineering Technology Leadership, MS
  • Environmental Science: Large River Ecosystems, PhD
  • GIScience and Geoenvironment, MS
  • Instructional Design and Technology, MS
  • Mathematics, MS
  • Physics, MS
  • Quantitative Economics, MS