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Employment Possibilities While on OPT STEM Extension

Where can I work while on the OPT STEM extension?

You can work anywhere in the United States

What are the work restrictions while on the OPT STEM extension?

Any work must be related to your major field of study

Any employer must have an E-Verify number

You must do a minimum of 20 hours of paid work for an E-Verify employer and the work must be directly related to your field of study to count as employment while on the STEM extension

During the 29 months of OPT and STEM extension, you cannot be unemployed for more than 120 days

What kind of work is considered employment on the OPT STEM exension?

Paid employment

All employment during the STEM extension must be paid employment. Volunteer experience does not count as employment for the purpose of maintaining F-1 status during the STEM extension.

Multiple Employers

A student may work for more than one employer, but all employment must be related to his or her degree program and all employers must be enrolled in E-Verify.

Work for hire

This is also commonly referred to as 1099 employment where an individual performs a service based on a contractual relationship rather than an employment relationship. The company for whom the student is providing services must be registered with E-Verify. If requested by DHS, the student must be prepared to provide evidence showing the duration of the contract period and the name and address of the contracting company.

Self-employed business owner

A student on a 17-month extension can start a business and be self-employed. In this situation, the student must register his or her business with E-Verify and work full time. The student must be able to prove that he or she has the proper business licenses and is actively engaged in a business related to his or her degree program.

Employment through an agency or consulting firm

Students on a STEM extension may be employed by an employment agency or consulting firm. The employment agency or consulting firm must be registered with E-Verify, but the third parties contracting with the agency or firm (for which the student is providing services) need not be.