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24-Month STEM Extension OPT Rule Published!

New 24-Month STEM OPT Extension Rule

If you are enrolled in a STEM eligible degree program, this means that you are now eligible for up to 3 years of post-graduation work authorization in the United States as long as your employment is based on your field of study. A STEM eligible degree means that your degree is in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math, and that your degree is listed here.
Summary of Changes

The new 24-month STEM Extension Rule will have an effective date of May 10, 2016. You can read the new 24-month STEM Extension Rule on the Federal Register Website.

The new 24-month STEM Extension will require additional documentation and reporting requirements. Students are responsible for completing the Form I-983 along with their employers. You will submit this form to ISS, along with all of your other documents, so that we can review it before creating a new I-20. For more information, please see the Students and the Form I-983 page.

Another notable update is that there are now 60 days of allowable unemployment. With the previous 17-month extension rule, there were only 30.
Transitioning to the New Rule

If you are STEM eligible, please see the bullet points below for more information about the transition plan:

  • Don’t know if you are STEM eligible? Check the STEM Designated Degree Program List for your CIP code, which is located on page 1 of your I-20, under “Major 1.”
  • Are you still a current student and wondering what this means for you? If you are STEM eligible, it means that you are eligible for 12 months of post-completion OPT and then an additional 24-month STEM OPT extension if your employment meets all the requirements.
  • If you are currently on OPT and your OPT ends after May 10th: Wait to apply for the 24-month STEM extension until the beginning of May
  • If you are currently on OPT and your OPT ends before May 10th: You must apply for the 17-month STEM extension first, and then you will be able to apply for an additional 7 month extension between May and August of 2016. Alternatively, if your application is still pending by May 10, 2016, USCIS will issue a Request for Evidence that will allow you to amend your application to demonstrate eligibility for the 24-month STEM extension.
  • Have you already applied for your 17-month STEM Extension? If your current OPT ends after May 10th, you can contact ISS to discuss withdrawing your application and reapplying for the 24-month extension. If your OPT ends before May 10th, please see the bullet point above.
  • Are you currently on your 17-month STEM Extension OPT? If you have more than 150 days remaining of your STEM Extension OPT after May 10, 2016, then you are eligible to apply for an additional 7 month extension. If your STEM Extension OPT ends after October 6th, 2016, you can contact ISS to apply for the 7 month extension between May and August of 2016. Please note that there must be at least 150 days remaining on your current STEM Extension when the OPT application reaches USCIS.

Reporting Requirements

Updated reporting requirements for students authorized for a 24-month STEM Extension:

  • Every six months: You must confirm with ISS that your SEVIS record is accurate.Annually: You are required to complete the Evaluation of Student Progress portion of the Form I-983.
  • When STEM OPT ends: you must conduct a second, final assessment, and procure signatures from your employer
  • Any changes in employment, including termination, must be reported to ISS within 10 days

The information above is not comprehensive. For more information about the transition between the 17-month extension and the 24-month extension, check out Study in the States' STEM OPT Hub. If you would like to contact us for more information, please see our website.

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