Students on an F-1 status who are completing their programs are eligible to apply for an extension of their F-1 status for “optional practical training (OPT).” That training is work permission to work in the field of study in a position commensurate with the academic degree. The students can apply for up to 12 months of post-completion OPT and if granted, the F-1 can work during the period authorized on the Employment Authorization Card issued for OPT.


Students who are in fields designated by the Department of Homeland Security as STEM fields for OPT are eligible to apply for an extension of the post-completion OPT, to continue to gain experience in their field of study, either from the most recent degree or a previous STEM degree.

The latest versions of forms related to employment of F-1 students working on a STEM Extension of Optional Practical Training, are available in PDF format at Study in the States. If you have any trouble downloading the files please email

F-1 students working on Optional Practical Training (OPT) who hold degrees in approved Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) fields may be eligible for a work authorization extension of 24-months. In these instances, specific forms related to employment at WashU are required of both the employing department and the F-1 student employee.

Students may apply no more than 90 days prior to the end date of the initial OPT period. The application must be received by USCIS before the end date of the initial OPT period. F-1 students are eligible to work up to 180 days beyond the initial OPT end date, while the STEM OPT application is being adjudicated by USCIS. While the extension application is the student’s responsibility, there are requirements for both the employer and the student.

To qualify for the STEM OPT extension, an F-1 student must:

  • be working in a period of post-completion OPT
  • must hold a U.S. bachelor’s or higher degree in an eligible STEM field,
  • be working for an E-verify registered employer.

Checklist of Required Documents for STEM OPT Employment