OPT Extensions

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.

Additional Information

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:  

  • 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.

 

Additional Resources

Study in the States, STEM OPT

USCIS, Optional Practical Training for STEM Students (STEM OPT)

 

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.

Additional Resources

Study in the States, Cap Gap

USCIS, Extension of Post Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) and F-1 Status for Eligible Students under the H-1B Cap-Gap Regulations