What is STEM OPT and Who Qualifies for It?

Foreign students with student visas may be eligible for 12 months of standard Optional Practical Training (OPT) at each higher educational level (one 12-month period at BA level then another at MA level). OPT must be directly related to the student’s major area of study. OPT allows F-1 students get work authorization in the United States.

STEM OPT is a form of OPT after the course of study is completed. Science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) students can qualify for STEM OPT if they have a degree in a STEM field or as part of a dual-degree program. The STEM subject must be the F-1 student’s major or dual major. A STEM student may be allowed a 24-month extension beyond the initial 12 months of OPT. In order to qualify for the 24-month STEM extension, the F-1 student’s field of study’s CIP (Classification of Instructional Programs) code has to be included on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security STEM Designated Degree program List.

Student Visa

Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice from an immigration lawyer.  We simplified the law to provide general information about one aspect of employment for F-1 students.  If you would like to discuss if you qualify for STEM OPT or what are employment options in the U.S. you may have, schedule a consultation with an experienced immigration lawyer in Scottsdale, AZ today or call the Juras Law Firm, PLC office at 480-425-2009! We look forward to talking with you!