Some F-1 students may be eligible for an extension of their initial 12 months of OPT if they have received a degree in an eligible STEM field or have a pending or approved H-1B application.
24-Month STEM Extension +
The STEM Extension is an extended 24 month period of OPT for F-1 students who have earned a degree in an eligible STEM field. This work authorization is an extension of a current period of post-completion OPT.
Eligibility for the STEM Extension
F-1 students are eligible for the STEM extension if you: who meets the following criteria is eligible for the STEM extension:
- Have earned a degree in an eligible STEM field
- Currently are on an approved period of post-completion OPT, ending within 90 days (i.e. EAD card has not yet expired. An F-1 student is not eligible to apply for the STEM extension during the 60 day grace period).
- Are working for an employer, or have a job offer from an employer, who meets the STEM eligibility requirements
How to apply for the STEM Extension
Please review our tutorial, Preparing your STEM OPT Application.
H-1B Cap-Gap Extensions +
The H-1B cap-gap extension is a period in which an eligible F-1 student’s status is extended to bridge the gap between the end of F-1 status and start of H-1B status on October 1 of each year.
Eligibility for the H-1B Cap-Gap Extension
If an international student has a valid EAD card at the time of H1-B application submission, and your application is selected in the lottery, employment authorization is automatically extended. If you have an expired EAD card but is still in your 60-day grace period at the time of the H1-B application submission, and your application is selected in the lottery, legal status to remain in the United States is extended, but employment authorization is not.
How to Apply for the H-1B Cap-Gap Extension
The H-1B cap-gap extension is automatic, so there is nothing to do in order to apply. F-1 students whose employers have filed an H-1B application on their behalf should contact their international student adviser to request a Cap-Gap I-20 if their H-1B application has been selected in the lottery and their OPT is ending before September 30.
If you are eligible, you may also apply for the STEM extension while your H-1B application is pending. An international student whose H-1B application is approved must submit a Request to Close SEVIS Record form when the new H-1B status becomes active on October 1.