F-1 students with STEM degrees may request an extension of their optional practical training programme by 24 months (OPT).
A 24-month extension of their optional post-completion practical training is available to some F-1 students who have completed STEM courses, i.e. with a degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (OPT).
In this essay, we’ll explain what STEM OPT extension is and how to get it. To qualify for the extension, a student’s practical training must be finished with a company that participates in USCIS’ E-Verify job eligibility verification programme.
A 24-month period of temporary training connected to an F-1 student’s course of study in a qualified STEM field or location is known as a STEM OPT.
Undergraduate and graduate students on F-1 visas who have finished or are still pursuing their study programmes for a period of one year are permitted to work for one year on their student visas in order to obtain practical training to supplement their education during the Optional Practical Training (OPT) period, which is defined by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
F-1 students (eligible) with STEM degrees who have finished their programmes and are on ordinary OPT for a duration of 12 months are eligible for a STEM OPT extension.
A standard work visa is granted for OPT for a duration of one year. They would have a 36-month OPT period if they were eligible for a 24-month extension.After their EAD card expires, students must stop working, although they have a grace period of 60 days during which they can stay in the country.
Eligibility for the STEM OPT Extension
The candidate must fulfil the requirements listed below in order to be qualified for the 24-month extension:
- 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 Non-immigrant Student Status, endorsed by your DSO within the last 60 days E-Verify Client Company Identification Number
After receiving STEM OPT Extension
The following assignments are required of students who have been awarded a STEM OPT extension:
- Inform your DSO of the change within ten days:
- 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
A student can go unemployed for a predetermined number of days throughout his OPT period. However, DHS permits students to work for an additional 60 days throughout the 24-month STEM OPT extension period. Students on regular OPT are permitted to go unemployed for up to 90 days; however, if they are granted a 24-month extension, they will go unemployed for 150 days in total.
CAP GAP Extension
The ability to apply for an H1-B cap-gap extension of their F-1 status and, if appropriate, their post-completion OPT work permission is available to students who have already applied for and received such an extension of their F-1 status.
Students with accepted or pending H1-B petitions may stay in the country in F-1 status up until the start of their authorised H1-B job term under the terms of the H1-B Cap-Gap Extension. They may continue in this position even if their OPT authorization or F-1 grace period runs out before October 1.
STEM OPT Employer responsibility
Employers must certify Form I-983 on behalf of F-1 students in order for them to be eligible for the extension. The company that hires the F-1 student and gives him on-the-job training must also be the one who signs the Training Plan for him. Those who are interested in the STEM OPT programme may work for a small business if they satisfy all legal conditions.
The business needs the resources and a good status with E-Verify in order to carry out the planned training programme.