When qualifying criteria are met, STEM OPT-based EAD extensions do extend your work authorization.
Unfortunately, these extensions can be easily confused with the automatic 180-day extensions. We’ve already written about those elsewhere, but we’ll cover the basic requirements below, so you can understand the differences between these extensions.
About the STEM OPT-based EAD Extension
The STEM OPT extension applies to the work authorization. Upon STEM OPT EAD approval, the period of time is rolled into the 24-month STEM OPT period.
So it’s really not an extension of OPT itself, but rather an advance on 180 days of employment under the STEM OPT 24-month period.
If you want to apply for a STEM OPT-Based EAD extension, you will need to properly file:
Form I-765 with –
- An application fee.
- The name of your employer (according to E-Verify)
- Your employer’s E-Verify Company Identification Number or valid E-Verify Client Company Identification Number
Form I-20 with –
- An endorsement from your DSO made within the last 60 days
- A copy of your STEM degree
About the 180-Day Automatic Extension
180-day automatic extensions are based on you being in an eligible EAD category and filing properly for a renewal EAD before your current EAD expires.
Additionally, you also have to be eligible for renewal in general, meaning that the “Class Requested” that is listed on the Notice of Action has to match your current EAD’s Category.
TPS beneficiaries and applicants who are still pending must have both an EAD and a Notice with either category A12 or category C19 (these categories don’t have to match). A full list of EAD categories that are eligible for automatic extensions of up to 180 days can be found here.
USCIS policy is to automatically extend your employment authorization by 180 days if:
- your STEM OPT extension application was filed on time, and
- your OPT expires while the application for extension is still pending.