Students must have STEM OPT I-20 issued by an International Student Advisor. Allow 5 business days to have this new I-20 issued.
Students may continue to work with an expired Post-completion EAD card for up to 180 days while their STEM OPT application is pending with USCIS. However, certain companies may require students to have a valid EAD card at all time in order to keep their employment.
USCIS takes 90 days or longer to process, so act early!
employment through consulting firm arrangements that provide labor for hire, and other relationships that do not constitute a bona fide employer-employee relationship
On August 17, 2018, USCIS made an announcement that they have updated the STEM OPT page and clarified that “STEM OPT participants may engage in a training experience that takes place at a site other than the employer’s principal place of business as long as all of the training obligations are met, including that the employer has and maintains a bona fide employer-employee relationship with the student. DHS will review on a case-by-case basis whether the student will be a bona fide employee of the employer signing the Training Plan, and verify that the employer that signs the Training Plan is the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience.”
In order to minimize the risk of STEM OPT denial or cancellation, we advise students to avoid working for third party placement companies if possible. Consult with an experienced immigration attorney for your case-specific questions.
Make sure Form I-765, G-1450 OR check and the new I-20 are signed and dated.
Before mailing, make a copy of your entire application for your records. International Student Advisors will only save a copy of your STEM OPT I-20.
Mail your application within 60 days of the new I-20 issuance or as soon as possible.
Purchase tracking or delivery confirmation service of your application package.
What to expect after filing
Students may receive an emailed notice or text message with the receipt number from USCIS Lockbox within 30-45 days from mailing.
Students should then expect to receive a written notice (NOA) through the mail within 30 days of the receipt of filing at the Lockbox. Students should email a copy of the NOA to their International Student Advisor.
Students should follow the progress of their application by visiting Case Status Online, and entering the receipt number for their case. Students can also create an online USCIS account to track their case and receive automatic status updates by email or text message.
Current processing times for I-765 being adjudicated at USCIS service centers and field offices are also reported on the USCIS website.
If cases are pending for more than 90 days, students should contact USCIS online or by calling the USCIS National Customer Service Hotline at 1-800-375-5283. If students see no updates on their case status after 2 weeks, they should contact their International Student Advisor.
Once you receive your EAD, make sure all information printed is accurate.
F-1 status maintenance during and after STEM OPT
Update your physical address and/or mailing address and phone number in the SEVP Portal within 10 days. Your contact info must be up to date in MyUW too.
Employment changes cannot be updated in the SEVP Portal for STEM OPT students. If you stopped working, have a new or additional employer, have any changes to Form I-983, email a copy of new Form I-983 to your International Student Advisor and complete:
For example, if your STEM OPT is approved on January 1, 2018, and you keep the same job with the same employer and you have no address update, your reporting timeline look like this:
On July 1, 2018: submit the STEM OPT participation report webform
On December 31, 2018: email a copy of the 1-year self-evaluation on Form I-983 (page 5, top part) with your supervisor’s signature to International Student Advisor
On July 1, 2019: submit the STEM OPT participation report webform
On December 31, 2019: email a copy of the 2-year (final) self-evaluation on Form I-983 (page 5, bottom part) with your supervisor’s signature to the International Student Advisor.
Students who leave their employer before the above time frames must complete the final evaluation and email a copy to their International Student Advisor.
During post-completion OPT, students are allowed to accrue 90 calendar days of unemployment. After STEM OPT approval, students are allowed an additional 60 calendar days of unemployment for a total of up to 150 days.
After Completion of STEM OPT:
Students who successfully complete their post-completion OPT have a 60 day grace period.
During the grace period, students can do the following:
Students should not depart from the U.S. once their post-completion OPT EAD expires and while their STEM OPT application is pending with USCIS. This can be considered as an abandonment of their STEM OPT application and they may not be readmitted into the U.S.
Once STEM OPT application is approved, students may travel outside the U.S. and seek readmission into the U.S. with the following documents:
Passport valid for at least 6 months into the future:
Countries listed here have a special agreement with the U.S. that allows their citizens' passports to be valid for reentry purpose up to the date of expiration.
F-1 Student Visa:
Check the expiration date and the number of allowed entries on your visa. Most visas have "M" (multiple) printed under entries. This means there is no limit on the number of entries for which you can use your visa. If your visa is expired or if you have already used the number of entries you are allowed, you will need to renew your F-1 student visa at the U.S. Consulate/Embassy office outside of the U.S. (preferably in your home country).
If you are seeking re-entry to the U.S. after traveling back from a contiguous country (Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands) for less than 30 days, you may be permitted to reenter with an expired F-1 visa. This is called Automatic Visa Revalidation.
Form I-20, endorsed for travel by DSO:
I-20s need to be authorized for travel on page 2 by an International Student Advisor.