This past March, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a new STEM OPT Rule providing for, among other things, an extended 24-month STEM OPT period, which is 7 months longer than the 17-month period available under the old rule.
D&S reminds eligible students with existing 17-month STEM OPT Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) that the transitional period, during which such students can request an additional 7 months for STEM OPT, closes this coming Monday, August 8, 2016.
The transitional measure, which is available from May 10, 2016, through August 8, 2016, provides certain students with existing STEM OPT EADs a limited window in which to apply for an additional 7 months of OPT, effectively enabling them to benefit from a 24-month period of STEM OPT. To qualify for the additional 7-month extension, the student must satisfy the following requirements.
- Students must have at least 150 calendar days remaining on their current STEM OPT EAD at the time they file their new I-765 Application for Employment Authorization requesting the additional 7 months of STEM OPT
- Students must meet the general requirements for 24-month STEM OPT including submission of a Form I-983 Training Plan for STEM OPT Students to their DSO prior to receiving a new certified I-20 to become eligible for the 24-month STEM OPT extension
- Students must properly file their Form I-765 with applicable fees and supporting documents on or before August 8, 2016 and within 60 days of the date the DSO enters the recommendation for the 24-month STEM OPT extension into SEVIS
If the extension is approved, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will issue a new EAD with a validity period that starts the day following the expiration of the prior 17-month STEM OPT EAD.