F-1 visa holders: OPT work authorization extension for STEM

F-1 students who anticipate use of their initial 12-month Optional Practical Training period may be eligible to apply for 17 months of additional OPT work authorization under a qualified Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Extension, cumulating in a total of 29 months of work authorization. These extensions are available only in specific fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics and only with eligible employers. While an additional 12-month regular OPT may be granted at each higher degree level, the STEM Extension may only be authorized once per student. MSI students from all UMSI specializations are eligible to apply for the 17 month extension.

Eligibility for a STEM Extension

Eligible students may apply for the OPT STEM Extension with a recommendation from their sponsoring academic institution. You must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • You maintain valid F-1 status, and pursue authorized post-completion OPT employment directly related to your field of study at the University of Michigan School of Information
  • You completed your most recent Bachelor, Master, or Doctorate degree in a STEM field, as designated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  • Your current or future employer must be enrolled in the E-Verify database
  • You were not previously authorized for a 17-month STEM Extension at any degree level

E-Verify note: The E-Verify database is an internet-based system operated by the United States Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the Social Security Administration. Enrolling in E-Verify requires participating employers to verify the employment eligibility of all newly hired employees, regardless of citizenship. Some U.S. employers are not enrolled in E-Verify. Be sure to discuss this option and determine eligibility with your employer.

For more information, review the U-M International Center website on the STEM extension for students holding an F-1 visa.