You are here:

New OPT STEM Extension Ruling Released

 Major changes:

  • New STEM OPT length: extended to 24 months
  • Student & employer must draft and submit a training plan to the approving DSO
  • Students must confirm valid employment every 6 months.
  • Students must submit an annual self-evaluation (2 evaluations total) signed by their employer to ISSS.  
  • Maximum of 150 days of unemployment allowed for entire post-completion OPT period (90 days of unemployment for initial 12-month and an additional 60 days under STEM extension)
  • Two (2) periods total of STEM OPT are available for a student

When does this come into effect?

The 17 month STEM OPT remains in effect until May 9, 2016. The STEM OPT 24 month extension is effective beginning on May 10, 2016.

ISSS will be offering workshops and advising to answer your questions about the new OPT regulations beginning March 21. Please watch your UMAIL for more information!

More information:
https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/stem-opt-hub
https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/sevp-unveils-online-stem-opt-hub

Please be aware that information available from online forums and other unofficial sources may be incomplete and incorrect.

  • Student must be currently working in a period of post-completion OPT and must hold a bachelor’s degree or higher degree in an eligible STEM field from an SEVP-certified school that is accredited (STEM list may be found here: https://www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Document/2016/stem-list.pdf)
  • Student's employer must be enrolled in USCIS’ E-verify employment eligibility verification program 
  • Student and employer must draft training program related to degree and present to DSO (USCIS may request a copy of the training program) https://www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Document/2016/I-983.pdf
  • Students who have completed OPT and/or are in 60-day grace period on May 10, 2016 are not eligible for STEM extension under new or current rule
  • Students must send application for STEM extension to USCIS within 60 days of DSO's endorsement of I-20
  • Two (2) periods total of STEM OPT are available for a student:
    • Either by earning an additional STEM degree, OR
    • By using previously obtained job-related STEM degree to qualify if prior degree was earned from an accredited US school no more than 10 years before the OPT extension is filed and if DSO signs off
    • Two periods of STEM OPT cannot immediately follow each other there must be an intervening degree and a 12 month OPT

I am currently on OPT and want to apply for the new STEM OPT

If you are applying for STEM OPT and want to send your documents to USCIS between now and May 9, 2016, you will need to apply using the current process for the 17 month STEM Extension.  If your application is still pending from USCIS by May 10, 2016, you will receive a Request For Evidence (RFE) which will allow you to submit additional documents (including new training plan signed by employer) to be approved for the 24 month STEM extension. No additional fees or applications will need to be submitted in order to change this to the 24 month STEM.

You may also choose to wait until May 10, 2016 to file for the 24 month STEM extension.

I am on STEM OPT now and want the extension to 24 months

As long as you have at least 150 calendar days remaining on your STEM OPT, you can apply for an additional 7 months on your current STEM OPT, allowing you to have a total of 24 months on STEM OPT. To do this, you must file a Form I-765 with USCIS, including the applicable fees and supporting documents on or before August 8, 2016. You must meet all of new 24 month STEM OPT requirements.

  • Students are required to confirm the validity of their employment every 6 months. Students may do so by reporting their employment information to ISSS using the “OPT/OPT STEM Update Employment” eform
  • Students are required to submit an annual self-evaluation (2 evaluations total) signed by their employer to ISSS: https://www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Document/2016/I-983.pdf
  • Students must report any changes in employment or changes to their training plan to ISSS
  • Maximum of 150 days of unemployment allowed for entire post-completion OPT period (90 days of unemployment for initial 12-month and an additional 60 days under STEM extension)

Employers must:

  • Participate in e-verify
  • Work with student to prepare and sign a written training program (to be completed on Form I-983:
  • https://www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Document/2016/I-983.pdf), or use an existing training program, that includes:
    • the specific goals of the STEM OPT period
    • how the specific goals will be achieved
    • explains how the specific skills, techniques, and knowledge will be imparted to student
    • explains how the training is related to the STEM degree
    • explains how the student will be supervised and evaluated
    • lists details of compensation
  • Certify that the training program:
    • is commensurate with the terms, conditions, and compensation provided to similarly-situated U.S. workers
    • does not cause the replacement of a full- or part-time, temporary or permanent U.S. worker
    • that the employer has sufficient resources and personnel to train the student
    • is directly related to the STEM degree and that the offered position will achieve the objectives of the training program
  • Notify ISSS of any material changes or deviations in the training program at the earliest opportunity. Material changes include:
    • Decrease in compensation, decrease in work hours below 20 hours (excluding leave policy), changes in EIN, any changes that renders the employer’s attestations invalid, or any changes that renders the training program inaccurate
  • Undergo possible work site inspections conducted by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
  • Notify ISSS within five business days if the F-1 student’s employment is terminated or departs from STEM OPT job

 

 

STEM OPT Presentation

Last Updated: 2/28/17