Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University

OPT Extensions for STEM Majors

As of May 10, 2016, new regulations are in effect for the STEM OPT extension. Previously 17-months, the extension is now 24-months, for a total OPT/STEM period of 36-months. General eligibility requirements can be found below.

General Eligibility Requirements

  1. Currently engaged in an active period of Post-Completion OPT
  2. Qualifying Degree:
    1. Student graduated from Jefferson with a STEM degree which is on the STEM Designated Degree Program List OR;
    2. Student received a prior, qualifying STEM degree. Prior degree must be
      1. Within 10 years of applying for the STEM OPT extension
      2. From an accredited U.S. education institution
      3. A Bachelor's degree or higher
      4. On the STEM Designated Degree Program List
  3. Employer must be E-Verify
  4. Student must be working in a paid position for at least 20 hours a week: Volunteer positions and self-employment are NOT possible

What Documents Do I Need to Apply for the OPT Extension?

Please bring the following items to OIA:

  • Completed 24-Month STEM extension application form.
  • I-983 Training Plan: Required of ALL employers.
  • Completed Form I-765. Instructions for I-765 can be found here. In item 3, use an address where you can receive mail for the next 3-6 months. The U.S. Postal Service will not forward USCIS mail even if you change your address. It is also very difficult to change your address with USCIS once they have received your application.  In line 16, write (C ) ( 3 ) ( C ).  In line 17, write your degree, your employer's name and their e-verify number.
  • Two (2) passport style photos made to USCIS’s specifications.  The best place to obtain these photos is at Jefferson Medical Media, 5th floor of Jefferson Alumni Hall (pay by check or cash only).  Other stores produce unsatisfactory photos for the same price.
  • Copy of your diploma in English, or an official, signed verification letter of your degree conferral from the registrar's office at Jefferson (this will take a few days).
  • Letter from your supervisor or employer stating that you are continuing your employment and that the work is directly related to your STEM degree.
  • $410.00* money order or personal check made out to “Department of Homeland Security.” Please write "I-765:  17-month extension" in the memo section.
  • Clear copies of most recent passport, I-94 number, and all I-20 forms issued to you. 
  • Clear copies of any previously issued EAD cards.

    Please note that you will also have to pay for the FedEx mailing fee (no more than $30)

    *Fees are subject to change. Please check with OIA or the USCIS application form before submitting a check or money order

Traveling Abroad During OPT Extension

You are strongly advised not to travel outside the U.S. until you receive the new EAD card.

Once you have received your extended EAD card, you may travel outside the US as long as you have the following documents:

  • Passport that is valid for at least 6 months into the future.
  • Valid F-1 entry visa. If you do not have a valid F-1 entry visa, you must go to a U.S Embassy or consulate to apply for one. It is possible that the consular officer will not issue you a new entry visa merely to complete your OPT.  You must still prove non-immigrant intent.
  • I-20 with OPT recommendation endorsed for travel by OIA representative.
  • Proof that you have a job to return to in the U.S., such as a letter from your supervisor or offer letter from human resources describing your job.