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How to Apply for STEM OPT Extension Checklist

   Download Printable Checklist [PDF]

Step 1: Know your stuff!!

Understand what the STEM OPT Extension is!  Are you eligible?  When can you apply?

For various STEM OPT topics, visit http://iss.ku.edu/opt-stem

IMPORTANT: Employment through “temp” agencies or consulting firm arrangements that provide labor for hire DO NOT qualify for the STEM OPT extension.

Step 2: Download, print & complete forms

1. Complete the Training Plan Form I-983 (both student & employer)

  • Download from https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/stem-opt-hub --> Training Plan
  • To be completed by both the student and employer. Electronic signatures are NOT accepted.
    • If KU is your employer, the Dean, Chair or designee, or supervisor should complete the employer sections (pages 2~4)
  • All fields through Section 6 MUST be completed entirely (Page 5 should not be completed at this time and should be used later for self-evaluations while on STEM)
  • For a model on how to complete this form, refer to I-983 Training Plan EXAMPLE 
  • Employers may also reference the Form I-983 Tutorial or Form I-983 Instructions accessible from https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/stem-opt-hub --> Training Plan 

2. Complete USCIS forms I-765 (required), G-1450 (if paying by credit card) & G-1145 (optional, for email/text notification)

  • Download from http://www.uscis.gov/   Forms > I-765, G-1450 & G-1145.
  • Follow USCIS instructions
  • Refer to I-765 STEM OPT Example 
  • Type in your answers before printing the I-765, G-1450 & G-1145.  Sign the I-765 & G-1450.
  • DO NOT file the OPT application or make a payment online!!

3. Print, read and sign the Student Reporting Responsibilities While On STEM OPT Extension Form 

4. Have your employer sign the STEM Employer Verifications Form  

Step 3: Scan supporting documents

Scan the following documents as separate PDF documents (if multiple pages within the same category, scan as 1 multipage PDF)

  • Signed ISS form “Student Responsibilities While On STEM OPT Extension”
  • "STEM Employer Verifications" form, signed by your employer
  • Completed USCIS Form G-1450 (if paying by credit card) and G-1145
  • Completed USCIS Form I-765, marked with eligibility code (c)(3)(C)
  • Completed Form I-983 Training Plan, signed by student and employer - (scan as 1 multipage PDF)
  • Proof of STEM degree (official / unofficial transcript  or diploma with stated program of study)
    • if requesting STEM OPT based on a previous STEM degree for which your current post-completion OPT is NOT based, scan the following as 1 multipage PDF:
      • I-20 that was issued for that qualifying STEM degree, if applicable
      • Official transcript or diploma showing STEM degree and when it was awarded
  • All previously issued Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) - (scan front/back as 1 multipage PDF)
  • Passport page(s) showing your name, photo, and expiration
  • Most recent Electronic I-94 record; or paper I-94 card (front and back)
  • Visa (most recently used when last entering the U.S.)
Step 4: Submit STEM I-20 request via iHawk & make an ISS appointment

 Log into iHawk (https://ihawk.ku.edu)

  • Complete all associated E-Forms under "F-1 Practical Training" --> "STEM OPT I-20 Request"
  • Upload the scanned supporting documents as prompted in the E-Forms

Overview of the STEM OPT I-20 request e-form & appointment process:

  1. Submit e-forms #1 - #5, in any order.
  2. Submit e-form #6, which will become immediately available when e-forms #1 - #5 are all submitted.
  3. Wait for an email from ISS (typically within 2-4 business days). ISS will do a one-time preliminary review of your e-form #6 and will instruct you of your next step (either revise e-form #6 or proceed to e-form #7).
  4. Submit e-form #7 (this will be available only after your e-form #6 is initially reviewed by ISS and resubmitted if necessary).
  5. Call ISS to make your STEM OPT appointment (available in-person or by phone) in order to have an ISS advisor review and process your STEM OPT I-20 request.
  6. Upon thorough review of all submitted documents during your STEM appointment, if eligible and all requirements are met, you will be issued a STEM OPT recommendation I-20 and will receive it through the method you selected on the final e-form.  If the ISS advisor finds your STEM request to be insufficient at the time of your scheduled appointment, as long as still eligible, you may revise and resubmit any documents but will not be able to schedule another appointment for a minimum of 10 business days.  
  7. Once received, sign and date the new original I-20. Then photocopy pages 1 & 2, which you will include in your STEM OPT application. You should hold on to the original I-20.
Step 5: Mail your complete application to USCIS
  • Your application must be receipted within the following timeframe or it will be denied:
    • No earlier than 90 days prior to your current post-completion OPT expiring 
    • BEFORE your current post-completion OPT expires
    • Within 60 days of the issue date of the new STEM recommendation I-20
  • Mail the I-765 with supporting documents to the USCIS Lockbox serving the area for your current residence, not necessarily where the first I-765 for regular OPT was filed. 
  • For further filing instructions and for the appropriate mailing address, consult the I-765 info page on the www.USCIS.gov website; specifically http://www.uscis.gov/i-765-addresses (look under Foreign Students; eligibility category (c)(3)(i) and click on the link under the Filing Location column).

​​What to include in your OPT STEM application:

  • G-1450 (if paying by credit card) OR $410 U.S. check or money order made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (sample image)
  • 2 passport style photographs taken within 30 days (US passport photo guidelines) - gently print name on back, & place in a clear plastic, Ziploc-style bag
  • Original Form G-1145 (optional) - typed and printed out
  • Original Form I-765 -typed, printed out, and signed
  • Photocopy of new I-20 (pgs 1 & 2) with recommendation for STEM OPT extension (signed by ISS & student)
  • Proof of STEM degree (transcript or diploma)
  • (If STEM OPT application is based on a previously earned STEM degree, include evidence that the institution is currently accredited by the U.S. Department of Education and certified by the SEVP.)
  • Photocopies of ALL previously issued EAD(s) (front and back)
  • SEVIS screenshot of employment information (provided by ISS at/after STEM appointment)
  • Photocopy of passport page(s) showing your name, photo, and expiration
  • Photocopy of visa (most recently used)
  • Photocopy of Electronic I-94 printout; or paper I-94 card (front and back)

Note: DO NOT include the original I-983 with your application. You should hold on to the original I-983 in case you are asked by the U.S. government to submit it in the future.


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