- How can I check if my major is STEM OPT eligible?
Use the CIP Code on the first page of your Form I-20 under “Major 1” and cross reference the code with the DHS published STEM Designated Degree Program List
below. Please note that the major name associated with your CIP code may differ slightly from the name of your major at Texas A&M.
Updated STEM CIP Codes
Texas A&M University/DARS CIP Code List
- Can I continue working while my STEM OPT application is pending?
Yes! Once your STEM OPT application has been received and accepted by USCIS, you are eligible to continue working on OPT until you receive your new STEM OPT EAD card or up to 180 days beyond the expiration date of your initial EAD card.
- What if I have already exceeded the 90 days of unemployment on my initial 12-months of OPT?
If you have already exceeded the 90 days of unemployment, you may not be in a valid F-1 status. If you have exceeded the 90 days of unemployment, you are encouraged to depart the US as soon as possible or discuss your situation with an immigration attorney. Students that have exceeded the 90 days of unemployment may be denied future benefits.
- Can I travel outside of the United States while my 24-Month STEM OPT application is pending?
You may travel outside the United States if your current EAD card is valid and will remain valid until you re-enter the United States. If your EAD has already expired and your application is still pending, you should not depart the United States. You should take both EAD cards, your I-20 signed for travel within the last 6 months, recent employer letter, and a valid passport with unexpired F-1 visa with you to show at the Port of Entry.
- Can I have multiple employers on a STEM Extension?
Yes, you may have multiple employers on a STEM Extension as long as you are working at least 20 hours per week with each employer AND the employer is registered with E-Verify and is in compliance with all requirements in Form I-983.
- Can I be employed in an unpaid and/or volunteer position?
No. All STEM employment must be paid and commensurate to the provided to similarly situated US workers.
- Can I work for a start-up while on my STEM Extension?
Start-up positions are acceptable only if there is a bona fide employer-employee relationship and all regulatory requirements are met by the employer, including:
- Training plan establishment as outlined in the Form I-983;
- E-verify standing is maintained and in good standing;
- The compensation for the STEM student employee is commensurate to that provided to similarly situated US workers;
- Resource availability to comply with the proposed training plan.
STEM OPT Frequently Asked Questions (Study in the States)
OPT Policy Guidance 1004-03
SEVP Special Report: STEM OPT Frequently Asked Questions
- May I take classes while on OPT or a STEM Extension?Beginning a new course of study will automatically cancel your OPT. You may take recreational or avocational classes as long as they will not be applied to another degree program now or in the future. If you are considering taking classes, please make an appointment with an ISS advisor to discuss your options.For more Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and guidance on the OPT and STEM OPT process, please visit the following web documents: