OPT STEM Extension
On May 10, 2016, the STEM Extension regulations will change. For information regarding the current regulations that expire on May 9, 2016, please visit our 17-month STEM Extension webpage. For information regarding the new regulations, please choose a scenario below to determine how this change will affect your situation:
Students with an approved 17-month STEM Extension on May 10, 2016
Any 17-month STEM OPT EAD that USCIS issued on or before May 9, 2016, will remain valid until the EAD expires, is terminated, or revoked. The new STEM Extension rule increases the duration period from 17 months to 24 months, but DHS will not automatically convert 17-month extensions into 24-month extensions.
As a transitional measure, from May 10, 2016, through August 8, 2016, students with 17-month EADs will have a limited window in which to apply for the additional seven months of OPT, effectively enabling them to benefit from a 24-month period of STEM OPT.
150 Calendar Days Remaining on EAD
To qualify for the seven-month extension, such students must have at least 150 calendar days remaining before the end of the student’s 17-month OPT period at the time the Form I-765 is filed, and they must otherwise meet all requirements of the 24-month STEM OPT extension.
This 150 day rule effectively eliminates the possibility of a seven-month extension for students whose 17-month EAD card expires on or before October 6, 2016. That is, only students with a 17-month EAD card end date of October 7, 2016 or later are eligible to apply for an extra seven months of OPT.
Timely Filing of the Seven-Month Extension
The STEM OPT student must properly file a Form I-765 with USCIS within the following time frame:
**Special Instructions for Students with STEM End Dates between 10/7/2016 – 10/20/2016**
Due to the sensitive time frame, USCIS is allowing special procedures for students whose current 17-month EAD card has an end date between October 7, 2016 and October 20, 2016.
Due to new regulations, I must apply for the seven-month extension of my STEM OPT before SEVIS supports it. I will provide a Form I‑20 with the extension recommendation after USCIS requests it.
Note: These applications cannot arrive at USCIS before May 10, 2016. Please follow the application procedures outlined below, with the notable exception that the I-20 will not be included with the application. Also, students in this situation should not request an I-20 from the International or Center or send a photocopy of the Form I-20 to USCIS until after USCIS requests it.
Application Procedures for Students
If an application for a seven-month extension is approved, USCIS will issue an EAD with a validity period that starts on the day after the expiration date stated in the 17-month STEM OPT EAD.
Students with a pending 17-month STEM Extension application on May 10, 2016
The 17-month STEM OPT regulations remain in effect through May 9, 2016. DHS will continue to accept and adjudicate applications for 17-month STEM OPT extensions under the original rules through May 9, 2016.
The STEM OPT 24-month extension rule is effective beginning on May 10, 2016.
Requests for Evidence
Beginning May 10, 2016, USCIS will issue Requests for Evidence (RFEs) to students whose 17- month STEM OPT applications are still pending on that date. The RFEs will allow students to effectively amend their application to demonstrate eligibility for a 24-month extension without incurring an additional fee or having to refile their EAD application.
RFEs will, generally, ask that students submit a new Form I-20 that was endorsed on or after May 10, 2016. This new I-20 will indicate a recommendation for a 24-month extension of OPT. Students should wait to request the new I-20 until after they receive the RFE.
To request a new I-20 in response to an RFE received for the reason indicated in this section, students should submit the electronic OPT STEM Extension I-20 Request Form. Please make sure to fill out all the fields and attach all the documents listed in the form. Incomplete requests cannot be processed.
Students will be required to upload a completed I-983 form with their I-20 request. This is a new form that requires information from both the student and the employer. For more information, please see the Study in the States website.
Responding to the RFE
Follow the instructions listed on the RFE, providing all necessary documents to USCIS in a timely manner. After receiving the additional documents, USCIS should be able to review your complete application and, if approved, issue you an EAD card with a 24-month duration.
Students currently on post-completion OPT wishing to apply for the 24-month STEM Extension after May 10, 2016
Update Coming Soon!!
For more information:
Last reviewed: 04/16