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International Student Services

Employment Possibilities for 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 24 months of the STEM extension, you cannot be unemployed for more than 60 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.


The student’s prospective STEM OPT extension employer must be enrolled in USCIS’ E-Verify employment eligibility verification program and must, along with the student, complete and sign a Form I-983.

The student must submit the completed and signed Form I-983 to their DSO. The Form I-983 must include information clearly describing how the training opportunity being offered by the employer has a direct relationship to the student’s qualifying STEM degree. Additionally, the Form I-983 must clearly indicate that the student will work a minimum of 20 hours per week during the extension period.

F-1 students cannot qualify for STEM OPT extensions unless they will be bona fide employees of the employer signing the Form I-983, and students may not provide employer attestations on their own behalf.

However, employment with a start-up business may serve as a basis for obtaining a STEM OPT extension, so long as all regulatory requirements are met. The employer that signs the Form I-983 must be the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience.

Please note that a student’s initial post-completion OPT employer does not need to be the same as the student’s STEM OPT extension employer.