Work-authorized participants in the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program (F-1 visa), 2008–2014

Year Total OPT approvals STEM OPT extension approvals (subset of total OPT approvals)
2008 28,497 1,143
2009 90,896 5,237
2010 96,916 9,984
2011 105,357 12,961
2012 115,303 15,827
2013 123,328 19,034
2014 unavailable 21,513
Total 560,297 85,699

Notes: Numbers represent approvals of employment authorization applications for OPT. STEM OPT extensions are available to F-1 visa holders with degrees in qualifying “STEM” fields (science, technology, engineering, or math). STEM OPT extension approvals are a subset of total OPT approvals. All references to a particular year should be understood to mean the U.S. government’s fiscal year (October 1–September 30).

Sources: U.S. GAO 2014; STEM OPT extension data acquired from DHS through a FOIA request

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