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F-1 17-Month STEM OPT Extension

What is 17-month OPT extension?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment authorization that gives F-1 students an opportunity to apply knowledge gained in the classroom to a practical work experience off campus. There are initially 12 months of OPT given for each higher degree (i.e. Bachelors to Masters, Masters to PhD) however a one time 17-month extension may be granted to students with degrees in the STEM categories, listed below, who will be employed by an E-Verify employer.

Who are eligible for 17-month STEM extension?

  • Must have a degree in one of the STEM categories as defined by USCIS. The general categories are listed below: a complete list of qualifying programs can be found at http://www.ice.gov/sevis/stemlist.htm. OISS will be able to verify if your specific program is a STEM designation.

    • Actuarial Science
    • Computer Science Applications
    • Engineering
    • Engineering Technologies
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences
    • Mathematics and Statistics
    • Military Technologies
    • Physical Sciences
    • Science Technologies
    • Medical Scientist (MS, PhD)

  • Must be currently participating in a 12-month period of OPT, working for a US employer in a job directly related to the student’s major area of study.
  • Must have successfully completed a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in a field on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) STEM Designated Degree Program List, from a SEVIS-certified college or university.
  • Must have a job offer from an employer registered with the E-Verify employment verification system.
  • Must NOT have previously received a 17-month OPT extension after earning a STEM degree.


  • Request for an extension I-20 must be submitted to OISS prior to the end of your current OPT. Students can submit application to USCIS as early as 120 days prior to the end of the current OPT period but no later than the current end date.
  • A student who timely files will be able to continue employment while the extension application is pending until a final decision is made by USCIS or for 180 days, whichever comes first.
  • USCIS currently takes 90-120 days to process OPT applications.

How to apply for 17-month OPT extension?

Step 1: Download and complete application packet.

Step 2: Log into iHome (https://iss.lehigh.edu) request 17-Month OPT Extension

Step 3: Sign your new I-20 for 17-month OPT once you receive it from OISS.

Step 4: Mail your application including all listed documents, check and photos to USCIS (must send within 30 days of the issurance of your new I-20).

  • Form I-765
  • G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance
  • A photocopy of page 1 and page 3 of the new I-20 with the OISS advisor's recommendation for Optional Practical Training 17 month extension on page 3.
  • A photocopy of both sides of your cardstock I-94 Card or copy of the electronic form I-94 printout from www.cbp.gov/I94
  • A copy of photo page (identification page) of your passport also include any extra pages that record extensions of the validity of your passport).
  • A copy of the F1 visa page of your passport
  • A copy of ALL previous I-20s that have been issued to you
  • A copy of your previous OPT card or other work card (EAD) if you have had one
  • For the 17 month extension, you must also include a copy of your transcripts or diploma that indicates the educational level and teh field of study.
  • Two passport style photos (2"x2") taken within 30 days of filing Form I-765. Print your name and I-94 card number lightly in pencil or felt pen on the back of each photo. Put the photos in an envelope and attach it to front of the I-765.
  • Fee of $380. Personal checks from a U.S. bank or a money order may be made payable to the Department of Homeland Security. NO CASH. Attach the check to the front of the I-765.

Where to send my 17-month extension application?

If you live in (return address on I-765): Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware,District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, U.S. Virgin Islands, or West Virginia

Mail your application to USCIS Dallas Lockbox:
For U.S. Postal Service deliveries:
PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

For Express Mail:
2501 S. State Hwy, 121, Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

If you live in (return address on I-765): Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington (state), Wisconsin, Wyoming, or Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands

Mail your application to USCIS Phoenix Lockbox:

For U.S. Postal Service deliveries:
PO Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036

For Express Mail:
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S, Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

Office of International Students and Scholars • Lehigh University • 32 Sayre Drive, Coxe Hall, Bethlehem, PA 18015 • 610-758-4859 • Fax: 610-758-5156 • intnl@lehigh.edu
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