24-Month STEM OPT Extension
Some students on Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) may be eligible for to apply an additional 24 months of OPT if they receive a degree in certain designated STEM field. The student must file their STEM extension case with USCIS on or before the end date of their OPT EAD card. The filing must include a copy of an I-20 issued for the purpose of recommending STEM for the student. There a number of requirements that must be met by the student and employer in order for the student to be eligible for the STEM extension. For more information about STEM OPT, visit the STEM OPT Hub on the STUDY in the STATES website maintained by the Department of Homeland Security.
Only a Designated School Official (DSO) from the student’s F-1 sponsor (usually an international student advisor from the home university) can recommend STEM OPT for the student. The DSO can only recommend STEM after reviewing the students completed Training Plan for STEM OPT Students (Form I-983). The student should seek primary advising about how to apply for STEM from a DSO from the institution that issued their Form I-20. F-1 Students from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) can find more information on the STEM OPT page of the website.
For those employees of UNC who are applying for the STEM Extension of OPT, the following procedure must be followed in order to obtain the proper signatures on the Form I-983.
UNC Chapel Hill: Process for Obtaining “Signature of Employer Official with Signatory Authority” on Form I-983 for STEM OPT
Departments employing students on STEM OPT must follow the following procedure in order to assist the student with obtaining the “Signature of Employer Official with Signatory Authority” on Form I-983.
Note: Linc Butler, Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources has been appointed as the only person authorized to sign Form I-983 on behalf of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Procedure for Certifying Form I-983
- STEM OPT student drafts Form I-983 together with the Supervisor. The student must sign the Form I-983.
- Supervisor signs “STEM-OPT Supervisor-Certification for I-983” form attesting to the contents of Form I-983 and forwards the materials to HR Officer.
- HR Officer completes checklist of required elements on “STEM OPT HR Officer Certification for I-983” and “STEM OPT Terms and Conditions Worksheet” and forwards to Linc Butler, Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources for signature as “Signature of Employer Official with Signatory Authority.”
- Signed Form I-983 is returned to HR Officer, copied and returned to student for submission to the Designated School Official (DSO) for their F-1 program.
The following contains some of the information about UNC-CH that the student needs in order to complete Form I-983:
- Employer Information:
The UNC Employer Name and Street Address:
UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL
104 Airport Dr
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-5023
- UNC’s Website URL:
- For UNC’s EIN Number, NAICS Code, and number of employees:
Please see the Information Sheet maintained by the Office of Sponsored Research: http://research.unc.edu/offices/sponsored-research/resources/data_res_osr_infosheet/
- Employer Site Information:
Site Name = UNC-CH + DEPARTMENT NAME
Site Address = ADDRESS OF WHERE STEM WORK WILL ACTUALLY BE PERFORMED ON CAMPUS e.g. Lab address
Name of Official = NAME OF STUDENT’S PI OR SUPERVISOR
Official’s Title = TITLE OF STUDENT’S PI OR SUPERVISOR
Official’s Email = EMAIL ADDRESS OF STUDENT’S PI OR SUPERVISOR
Official’s Phone Number = PHONE NUMBER OF STUDENT’S PI OR SUPERVISOR
- Training Plan For STEM OPT Students:
For a step-by-step guide to completing the Training Plan form, watch the tutorial on the STEM OPT Hub on the STUDY in the STATES website maintained by the Department of Homeland Security. When completing the Training Plan, the student should keep in mind that they could be asked to provide copies of it to various Immigration agencies upon request, and it may eventually be uploaded into SEVIS. Ultimately, the international student advisor (DSO) at the home university is the one who will decide if the Form I-983 was completely correctly.
Near the bottom of page 3 on Form I-983, it says that the information from employer’s internal/pre-existing training plan can be filled into the remaining fields. For example, if the student will be working as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at UNC, and they have already completed an Individual Development Plan for Postdoctoral Scholar (IDP) through the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs the information from the IDP could be used to complete the Form I-983.
In order to file their STEM extension case with USCIS, the student will also need UNC’s name as listed in E-Verify and UNC’s E-Verify number in order to complete the Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization. The student can contact an International Student Advisor in International Student and Scholar Services or an I-9/E-Verify Specialist in the Office of Human Resources to obtain this information.
Once the student files their STEM case with USCIS, they should receive a Receipt Notice in the mail from USCIS. If the student already checked in with ISSS while on OPT, the student should submit a copy of the Receipt Notice and page 1 and 2 of the new I-20 issued for STEM to ISSS. The I-20 issued to recommend STEM and the Receipt Notice from the STEM filing together are evidence of the student’s extended work authorization for up to 180 days. Once the student receives their STEM EAD card, they should submit a copy of the front and back to ISSS.
Process for 12 month and 24 month Evaluation on Student Progress on Form I-983
At the 12 and 24 month marks of the STEM employment (or earlier if the employment ends) the STEM student should follow the following procedure in order to obtain the “Signature of Employer Official with Signatory Authority” on the Evaluation on Student Progress section of Form I-983.
- Student completes self-evaluation on Form I-983 with Supervisor.
- Supervisor reviews and submits request for signature to HR Officer.
- HR Officer reviews and submits to Linc Butler, Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources for “Signature of Employer Official with Signatory Authority”.
- Form I-983 is returned to student for submission to DSO.
Process for updating Form I-983
Any changes to the conditions of employment must be reported on I-983 to the Designated School Official (DSO) listed on Form I-983
- Supervisor alerts HR Officer of proposed changes by submitting revised I-983 to HR Officer.
- HR Officer reviews and submits Form I-983 to Linc Butler Associate Vice Chancellor for Human Resources for “Signature of Employer Official with Signatory Authority”.
- Form I-983 is returned to STEM OPT student for submission to DSO.
Form I-983 (PDF)
STEM OPT HR Officer Certification for I-983 (Download)
STEM OPT Supervisor Certification for I-983 (Download)
STEM OPT Terms and Conditions Worksheet (Download)