Graduate Studies

STEM Extension OPT

Who is eligible for OPT STEM extension?

  • Students who have been approved for 12 months of post-completion OPT; and
  • Who have earned a degree in a field included on the US Government’s list of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields; and
  • Who are employed in a paid job directly related to his/her field of study; and
  • Who are working for an employer that is enrolled in the US Government’s E-Verify program.

Please note: all four of the above criteria must be met for a student to be eligible for STEM EXT OPT.

What is E-Verify?

  • E-Verify is a database system operated by the Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the Social Security Administration. It allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of newly-hired employees.. For more information visit:

Limitations on Employment and Unemployment:

  • Students approved for the 24-month OPT extension may not accrue more than 150 days of unemployment during the total 36-month period of OPT. Employment must be paid and must be related to the field of study in order to qualify. Self-employment and volunteer positions will not qualify as valid employment for OPT purposes during the 24-month OPT extension.

Starting and Ending Dates:

  • The start date of the 24-month OPT extension will be automatically set to the day after the expiration of the current 12-month OPT authorization. The end date will be 24 months later. 

How do I apply for STEM EXT?

  • Students may apply 90 days prior to the expiration of the first 12 months of regular OPT. The application must be received by USCIS prior to the expiration date of their OPT.
  • You will be notified when you are eliglbe to apply by the Immigration Specialist.


WIU degrees that are eligible for STEM Extension OPT


  • Bachelor of Business in Business Analytics
  • Bachelor of Science in Biology, Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Clinical Laboratory Science, Computer Science, Cybersecurity, Electrical Engineering, Engineering, Engineering Technology, Forensic Chemistry, Geographic Information Science, Geology, Information Systems, Mathematics, Mechanical Engineering, Meteorology, Nutrition and Dietetics, Physics


  • Master of Accountancy
  • Master of Public Health
  • Master of Science in Applied Statistics and Decision Analytics, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering Technology, GIScience and Geoenvironment, Instructional Design and Technology, Mathematics, Physics, Quantitative Economics 
  • PhD in Environmental Science: Large River Ecosystems