STEM OPT: Students’ Highlights

“STEM OPT was a life changer in my case. I am from India and I received a PhD in Statistics from NC State in 2014. I joined SAS after finishing my studies. Although SAS applied for an H1B for me every year, I kept missing the lottery and therefore not getting the H1B for two consecutive years. Had it not been for STEM OPT, I would not have been able to pursue a career in the US. Using all the STEM OPT extensions I was able to work in the US for almost 3 years. The main challenge was that the processing times to get an EAD card were high, more than three months at times. It is important to study all the rules of the application process well in advance so that you get the EAD in time. OIS has an informative website and helpful immigration specialists, however one has to give them enough time to process applications, etc. There are no shortcuts in this process.” – Kasturi, STEM OPT Student, NC State

“STEM OPT is definitely very helpful for me. I went to college in China and graduate school at NCSU. My undergraduate major is Pulping and Papermaking Engineering. My graduate school major is Wood and Paper Science. I have always wanted to be a scientist in world class research institutions for paper making. As you know, it takes time to understand your role in a new working position. Without STEM OPT, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to practice what I learned very well. Also, because of the extension of my OPT due to STEM involvement, I can have the opportunity to get my working VISA after 3 times of petition.I submitted materials to maintain my OPT status three times. The first time was applying for regular OPT. The second time was to apply for the 17-month extension of OPT after the first year. The third time was the application for 7 months extension due to change of policy. The challenge of using STEM OPT is that you really need to be aware of the timing and what you need to accomplish in order to maintain the status – submitting all the materials requested, report to OIS every 6 months, notice the change of your address each time when you move, etc.” – Li, STEM OPT Student, NC State

If you would like to share your STEM OPT story, please contact Irina Glabuchek at