Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study. Eligible students can apply to receive up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization before their academic studies and/or after completing them. On March 11, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security ¬†published a final rule allowing certain F-1 students who receive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees, and who meet other specified requirements, to apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion OPT.

STEM OPT Challenges


The employer/employee relationship must be demonstrated.


Candidates must ensure compliance with reporting requirements.

Training Plan and Evaluations

Employers and candidates must develop required training plan and conduct evaluations.


Students and candidates must ensure that the student is working for an employer listed on E-Verify.

Unemployment Limitations

Candidates must determine what constitutes unemployment under the OPT program and avoid exceeding the maximum allowed length for unemployment under for STEM OPT, which is 150 days.


Candidates must determine if travel is feasible while on an OPT STEM extension (depending on where they are in the process).

STEM OPT Solution