F-1 students with STEM degrees may apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion optional practical training (OPT).
Some F-1 students who have completed STEM courses, i.e. with a degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics, can apply for a 24-month extension of their optional post-completion practical training (OPT). We’ll tell you what STEM OPT extension means and how to get it in this article. A student must complete their practical training through an employer that is engaged in USCIS’ E-Verify employment eligibility verification programme in order to receive the extension. STEM OPT is a 24-month period of temporary training tied to an F-1 student’s programme of study in an eligible STEM field or location.
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a period during which undergraduate and graduate students on F-1 visas who have completed or are pursuing their study programmes for a period of one year are authorised by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to work for one year on their student visa in order to obtain practical training to supplement their education.
STEM OPT extension is available to F-1 students (eligible) with STEM degrees who have completed their programmes and are on regular OPT for a period of 12 months. For OPT, a regular work visa is issued for a period of 12 months. If they are qualified for a 24-month extension, their total OPT time will be 36 months. Students must terminate their employment after their EAD card expires, but they have a 60-day grace period to remain in the United States.
Eligibility For The STEM OPT Extension
To be eligible for the 24-month extension, the candidate must meet the following criteria:
- Have been granted OPT and are now enrolled in an OPT programme.
- When applying for a STEM OPT extension, the candidate must have received a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degree from a school that is accredited by a US Department of Education recognised accrediting agency and is also certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).
- The student’s employer must be participating in USCIS’s E-Verify employment eligibility verification programme where he is pursuing his STEM OPT extension.
- Should work for an employer who meets all of the STEM OPT Employer Responsibilities section’s standards.
Applying For OPT Extension
- Up to 90 days before his existing OPT employment authorization expires, a student must submit Form I-765.
- The cost of the application
- Employer’s name as it appears in E-Verify
- Employer’s E-Verify Company Identification Number or a valid E-Verify Company Identification Number
- Copy of student’s STEM degree
- Form I-20, Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, endorsed by your DSO within the last 60 days E-Verify Client Company Identification Number
After Receiving STEM OPT Extension
Students who have been granted a STEM OPT extension must complete the following tasks:
Within ten days of the change, report it to your DSO:
- The legal name of the student
- The address of the student’s home
- Email address of the student
- The name of the student’s employer
- The address of the student’s employment
Even if no information has changed, STEM OPT students must report to their DSOs every six months.
Unemployment During OPT Period
During his OPT time, a student can be unemployed for a set amount of days. During the 24-month STEM OPT extension period, however, DHS enables students to work for an additional 60 days. Students on normal OPT can be unemployed for up to 90 days; however, if they receive a 24-month extension, they will be unemployed for an additional 60 days, bringing their total number of days unemployed to 150.
CAP GAP Extension
Students who have applied for and received an H-1B cap-gap extension of their F-1 status and, if applicable, their post-completion OPT work authorization may apply for an H1-B cap-gap extension of their F-1 status and, if applicable, their post-completion OPT employment authorization.
Under the H1-B Cap-Gap Extension, students with pending or accepted H1-B petitions can remain in the United States in F-1 status until the start date of their approved H1-B job term. Even if their OPT authorization or F-1 grace period expires before October 1, they are allowed to remain in this status.
STEM OPT Employer Responsibility
F-1 students can only be eligible for the extension if their employer signs Form I-983, which the employer must certify for F-1 students. The employer who signs the F-1 student’s Training Plan must be the same business that employs him and provides him with practical training experience. If they meet all of the legal requirements, STEM OPT applicants can also work for a small firm.
The company must be in good standing with E-Verify and possess the necessary resources to carry out the planned training plan.
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