STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT)

The ISSO provides general guidance on your OPT/STEM OPT application based on information obtained from reliable sources and reflecting our years of experience in working with students. We make every attempt to ensure that we provide you with the most up to date information available. Any advice provided to you by our office (as well as the information on our website) does not constitute legal advice. However, the OPT/STEM OPT application is a personal application for which you are responsible; the application preparation and USCIS case decision will vary depending on the facts at issue in your particular case. The ISSO does its best to provide you with the most current guidance, but please be mindful that USCIS may change its interpretation of these policies, procedures, regulations, and eligibility requirements at any time. The ISSO is not responsible for any errors or omissions, or for the results obtained from USCIS.

STEM 24-Month Eligible STEM Programs

  • The Cooper Union eligible STEM programs and Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) codes: 
    • Bachelor of Architecture – 04.0902 
    • Bachelor of Engineering in Chemical – 14.0701
    • Bachelor of Engineering in Civil – 14.0801
    • Bachelor of Engineering in Electrical – 14.1001
    • Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical – 14.1901
    • Bachelor of Science in General Engineering – 14.0101
    • Master of Science in Architecture – 15.1303
    • Master of Engineering in Chemical – 14.0701
    • Master of Engineering in Civil – 14.0801
    • Master of Engineering in Electrical – 14.1001
    • Master of Engineering in Mechanical – 14.1901

Eligibility Requirements

  • Your major's Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code must be listed on the STEM List released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
    • Your CIP code is a 6-digit code listed on your I-20 next to the name of your major and is in XX.XXXX format.
  • Your employer must be registered in the E-Verify program.
  • Your employment must be paid.
  • You must have a bonafide employer-employee relationship with the company providing the training and this company must complete the Form I-983. If you are getting paid through a staffing agency, the staffing agency cannot complete your Form I-983. As Study in the States explains, "F-1 students cannot qualify for STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) extensions unless they will be bonafide employees of the employer signing the Form I-983. F-1 students may not provide employer attestations on their own behalf. However, STEM OPT applicants can participate in a start-up or small business so long as all regulatory requirements are met. The employer that signs the Training Plan document must be the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience."
  • You must work at least 20 hours per week.

How to Apply

  • The earliest your STEM Extension OPT application can be submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is 90 days before the end of your post-completion OPT. The latest your application can be submitted to the USCIS is the last day of your post-completion OPT. USCIS maintains that your application should be filed in a "timely manner," so early application is recommended.
  • USCIS must receive your STEM Extension application before your post-completion OPT ends.

To apply for the 24-month STEM OPT extension, you must create your USCIS account online. Gather the following items listed below, and then schedule an appointment with us here.

Step 1: Send electronic copies (PDF files) of the following documents to the International Students and Scholars Services Office (ISSO) at
  • STEM OPT I-20 Request Form, signed by you (electronic signature or scanned signatures acceptable)
  • I-983 – Sample I-983 form and review guide for completing form I-983
  • I-765 draft (optional) – The ISSO will check the I-765 draft (that you can download from your USCIS portal), but you are responsible for confirming the accuracy of all information before submitting it to USCIS.
Step 2: Wait for the ISSO to send your new STEM OPT extension I-20 to you via email.
  • This can take up to 5 business days. Make sure to proof, print, then sign your new I-20 before you upload and submit it to USCIS.
Step 3: Prepare the following materials to upload to your USCIS portal.
  • Form I-983 should not be mailed to the USCIS. This form is uploaded to your SEVIS portal by the ISSO.
  • Your STEM OPT extension application must be submitted to the USCIS within 60 days from when the new I-20 with STEM OPT recommendation was created.
  • Copy of Passport Photo Page
  • Copy of your current Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
  • I-94 (can be obtained here by selecting “Get Most Recent I-94”)
  • USCIS I-765 Filing Fee of $410 paid via credit card or direct bank withdrawal at “Review and Submit” section of e-File system. DO NOT PAY BEFORE APPLICATION IS FULLY COMPLETED AND REVIEWED. Payment officially submits application to USCIS.
  • 2 new passport photos taken within the last 30 days. For examples of acceptable passport photos. If you wish to take the photos yourself, review the Department of State’s tool for taking digital photos.
  • Official academic transcript. The transcript does not have to be sealed. Unofficial transcripts are acceptable.
  • Copy of your diploma (the same form is used for your transcript and diploma requests. Specify both requests in your email to, along with the completed form).

Reporting Requirements

Updated reporting requirements for students authorized for a 24-month STEM Extension are below. Send all required updates by using the STEM OPT Update Form or by emailing Students on STEM OPT should not utilize the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) portal but should contact the ISSO directly as well.

  • Every six months, you must confirm with the ISSO that your SEVIS record is accurate.
  • Annually, you are required to complete the Evaluation of Student Progress portion of the Form I-983.
  • When the STEM OPT ends, you must conduct a second, final assessment, and procure signatures from your employer on page 5 of the Form I-983.
  • Within 5 days any changes in employment, including termination, must be reported to the ISSO. 

Please note, it is the student's responsibility to report changes in a timely manner.

Unemployment Information

Students on their 24-month STEM Extension OPT have 60 days of allowable unemployment in addition to the 90 days of allowable unemployment on post-completion OPT for a total of 150 days of allowable unemployment.

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.