F-1 students on Post-OPT who are eligible for STEM Extension may apply as early as 90 days prior to the Post-OPT EAD expiry date. Students MUST submit their STEM Application to ISSO no later than 3 weeks prior to their Post-OPT EAD expiry date to account for processing time. ISSO will issue a STEM Recommended I-20 with employment details listed. USCIS must receive the STEM Petition PRIOR to the Post-OPT EAD Expiry date. So long as USCIS receives the petition prior to the Post-OPT EAD Expiry date, USCIS will issue a I-797 Receipt Notice, which authorizes the student to work for an additional 180 days while the STEM Extension is pending. Student may show the I-797 Receipt Notice to their HR Department to update their I-9 Employment Eligibility.

If you are eligible for cap-gap work authorization, but have the ability to file for a STEM Extension of your OPT, ISSO recommends you consult an immigration attorney as to whether applying for your STEM Extension of OPT is necessary.

Theoretically, a student can apply for a STEM Extension during the cap-gap period, even after the expiry of their OPT. This is risky, however, and may lead to a denial.

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