While You Are On 24-Month STEM OPT Extension

General Information

Once your application for the 24-Month STEM OPT is approved, USCIS will issue you a new EAD card. The 24-Month STEM OPT period represents a continuation of your current F-1 status. You must stop your employment when the end date on the EAD card is reached, but may remain in the US for a 60-day grace period after the end date on your EAD card.

You are expected to be employed in your STEM eligible field of study during the 24-Month STEM OPT. The maximum period of unemployment is 150 days, which includes any days of unemployment during the initial 12 months of Post-Completion OPT. For example, you finish the 12 month Post-Completion OPT with 30 days of unemployment time accrued, then you would have 120 days of unemployment remaining during your period of STEM OPT.

To avoid collecting unemployment days during STEM OPT, you must work at least 20 hours per week for an E-Verified employer in a position directly related to your STEM eligible field. Here are additional details about STEM OPT employment requirements:

  • In order to receive the STEM OPT extension, you must pursue your practical training through an employer that is enrolled in USCIS' E-Verify employment eligibility verification program.
  • All employment on STEM OPT must be a minimum of 20 hours of work per week and provide you with formal training and learning objectives.
  • You must work with your potential STEM OPT extension employer to complete the Form I-983, which must include how the training opportunity has a direct relationship to your qualifying STEM degree. View our I-983 instructions to learn how to properly complete and submit the Form I-983.
  • You cannot qualify for STEM OPT extensions unless you will be a bona fide employee of the employer signing the Form I-983 because F-1 students may not provide the employer attestation (i.e., signatures) on their own behalf. However, you may use a start-up business so long as all regulatory requirements are met. The employer that signs the Form I-983 must be the same entity that employs you and provides the practical training experience.
  • Please note that your post-completion OPT employer does not need to be the same as the STEM OPT extension employer.

 

24-Month STEM OPT Reporting: Ongoing Requirements

ADDRESS UPDATES

At all times while on STEM OPT, please remember you must continue to update Wolverine Access with your U.S. address and phone number(s). The F-1 regulations mandate any change of address must be reported within 10 days of any change.

EAD COPY

Submit a scanned copy of your STEM OPT EAD card via M-Passport. Log in to M-Passport, click on Requests > OPT - Submit EAD Card, and follow the instructions from there.

CHANGING EMPLOYERS

Any changes of employment during your STEM OPT period, such as ending a current job and/or starting a new job, must be reported to us via M-Passport within 10 days of the change. Please log in to M-Passport, and click on Requests. You must submit the OPT - Report End of Employment request (within 10 days of ending employment) and/or the OPT - Report Add New Employment request (within 10 days of starting employment).

MATERIAL CHANGES TO AN EXISTING FORM I-983

If you are working for the same employer but need to make changes to your I-983 form, please log in to M-Passport, click on Requests > OPT - Update Previously Reported Employment Details, and follow the instructions from there. Material changes or deviations from the original Form I-983 may include, but are not limited to:

  • Any change of the employer’s EIN.
  • Any reduction in student compensation that is not tied to a reduction in hours worked.
  • Any significant decrease in hours per week that a student engages in a STEM training opportunity.
  • Changes to the employer’s commitments or student’s learning objectives as documented on the Form I-983.

24-Month STEM OPT Reporting: Date-Specific Requirements

F-1 STEM OPT students are required to complete STEM employment reporting tasks after 6, 12, 18, and 24 months of STEM OPT have elapsed.

To calculate how many months of STEM OPT have elapsed, please refer to the “Valid From” date printed on your STEM OPT EAD card. Do not refer to your Post-Completion OPT EAD card for this.

For example, if your STEM OPT EAD card is valid from 01/01/2024 to 12/31/2025, then you will be required to complete STEM employment reports on 07/01/2024 (6 months elapsed), 01/01/2025 (12 months elapsed), 07/01/2025 (18 months elapsed), and 12/31/2025 (24 months elapsed). The reports may be submitted up to 30 days before this date and no later than 10 days after the date.

To report 6-Month STEM Validation and Annual Progress Evaluations:

  1. Log in to the M-Passport portal.
  2. Click on Requests > OPT - Submit STEM Validation Report and Progress Evaluation.
  3. Follow the instructions from there.

STUDY IN THE STATES: STEM OPT HUB

For more information about STEM OPT Reporting Requirements, please refer to the US Department of Homeland Security’s website Study in the States, STEM OPT Hub.

 

Ending OPT early

If you decide to abandon your STEM OPT before the end date of your EAD and leave the U.S., you must notify the International Center so we can end your SEVIS record. Please log in to M-Passport, click on Requests > Departure Form, and submit the request telling us that you have decided to abandon your OPT and the date you plan to depart the U.S. We will end your SEVIS record effective the date you indicate you plan to leave the U.S. or the date you notify us, whichever is later. In addition, remember to submit a Final Evaluation for the end of your STEM OPT in M-Passport within 10 days of your end of employment.

Starting a New Program — at U-M or at Another Institution

During the period you are authorized for OPT, you may decide to apply to another academic program, either at U-M or another University. Once you are admitted to another degree program, it is important to discuss the situation with an advisor at the International Center, as the issuance of a new I-20 will effect/terminate your OPT. Please call the IC to request an appointment (appointments may be in-person or by telephone). If you are admitted to a degree program at another University, the International Center must transfer your I-20 to that institution so they may issue a new I-20 for you.

  • Admission to U-M for a new degree program/change of level. Once you have been admitted to a new degree program at U-M, the admissions office will issue a new I-20 to you. The issuance of this new I-20 does not end your OPT immediately. Your EAD is terminated as soon as you enter the U.S. with the new I-20 or you check-in for the new program, whichever is earlier. Either one of these events will activate your SEVIS record for the new degree and deactivate your OPT SEVIS record. This means you must immediately stop employment regardless of the card's appearance of validity if you reenter with your new I-20 or check-in at the IC.
  • Transfer to another school in the U.S. in order to begin a new degree program. Authorization for OPT is not transferable. Your authorization for OPT ends on the transfer release date. If you wish to complete OPT, set the release date for a date after the OPT ends. You can set the transfer release date to occur during the 60-day grace period following post-completion OPT (see the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Transfer for F-1 Students (refer to section 6.7)). On your transfer release date, you must stop employment regardless of your EAD card's appearance of validity.

In order to maintain your F-1 status, a new I-20 for change of academic level, new degree program, or transfer must be issued before the end of your 60 day grace period.

Change of Status During STEM OPT

If you change your immigration status (e.g. from F-1 to H-1B, F-2, J-1, etc.) during the period of your STEM OPT your STEM OPT will end on the effective date of the USCIS action notice or your entry to the US in the new status. Any unused STEM OPT time is lost (you cannot have both F-1 STEM OPT and another status at the same time, nor can you return to STEM OPT if your new status ends for any reason).

Please notify the International Center when you change status. To update your status with the International Center, email icenter@umich.edu with your UMID and a copy of your I-94 showing your new status. Your I-94 may be attached to the bottom of an I-797 Approval Notice or accessed online after entering the US in another status. If you are approved for permanent residency, please submit a copy of your green card instead of an I-94. Remember to submit a Final Evaluation for the end of your STEM OPT in M-Passport within 10 days of your change of status becoming effective.

“Cap Gap” Relief for STEM OPT — H-1B Transitions

Some students may be eligible for an extension of STEM OPT and F-1 status due to the Cap Gap Relief rules if their H-1B petition was receipted or approved by USCIS during their STEM OPT period and their STEM OPT ends before 10/1 of the year the petition was filed.