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Kinds of Employment Allowed - OPT STEM Extension

The type of employment allowed under the new 24-Month STEM OPT Extension is more limited than what is allowed during the initial (first) 12-Month OPT authorization.

  • Context of the employment: The following conditions must be met:
    • Must be working on location with supervisor
    • Must be a paid job
    • Must work 20 hours or more each week
    • The job must assist the student in reaching his or her training goals.
    • The job's compensation and working conditions must be "commensurate with terms and conditions applicable to the employer's similarly situated U.S. workers in the area of employment.”
    • Workers on a STEM OPT extension cannot replace a full- or part-time, temporary or permanent U.S. workers.
  • Limitation for opportunities with start-up initiatives (co-ownership is 49 percent or less):
    • Only allowed if the F-1 student can show that he or she is a bona fide employee and this his or her compensation, including any ownership interest in the employer entity (such as stock options), is commensurate with the compensation provided to other similarly situated U.S. workers.

Kinds of employment not allowed during OPT STEM Extension

  • Self-employment or owning your own business (co-ownership is 50 percent or more)
  • Volunteer or unpaid position
  • Employment through temporary agencies
  • Employment through consulting firm arrangements that provide labor for hire

If you have questions about the way you are employed, e-mail us at so we can assist you.

Last Updated: 8/24/16