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STEM Extension Rule

24 month OPT STEM OPT Extension rule is progress

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As most of your know US Court invalidated the 17 month OPT extension. Good News is that DHS started new rule making process which would extend the OPT up to 24 months instead of earlier rule of 17 months, making the total OPT period a student can use to 36 months (12+24).

24 month OPT extension rule

Here is the summary of OPT extension rule making by DHS

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposes to amend its F-1 nonimmigrant student visa regulations on optional practical training (OPT) for certain students with degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) from U.S. institutions of higher education. Specifically, the proposal would allow such F-1 STEM students who have elected to pursue 12 months of OPT in the United States to extend the OPT period by 24 months (STEM OPT extension). This 24-month extension would effectively replace the 17-month STEM OPT extension currently available to certain STEM students. The rule also improves and increases oversight over STEM OPT extensions by, among other things, requiring the implementation of formal mentoring and training plans by employers, adding wage and other protections for STEM OPT students and U.S. workers, and allowing extensions only to students with degrees from accredited schools

Here is the series of events happened to OPT STEM rule.

OPT Extension Beyond 29 month (12+17) is announced in November 2014
They made it clear that OPT extension will be 24 months instead of 17, making the total OPT duration to 36 months.
The Original extension of 17 months itself is cancelled by the Court in Aug 2015
DHS Started rule making to extend the OPT upto 24 months in Oct 2015

The new rule-making is a big relief to the students impacted by the cancellation of 17-month OPT extension. The new rule is expected to be implemented by Feb 12th 2016, which would put back OPT students to work after the date.

Visit the Full rule making process text here:…2015-26395.pdf

Key points of the 24-month OPT Rule and changes from 17 month rule

  • Students currently on 17-month extensions would be able to apply for thebalance of the 24-month extension, depending on how much time remained in theircurrent 17-month extension and the effective date of a final regulation.
  • Cap-Gap extension are still possible with 24 months OPT extension rule.
  • Employer Site Visits by DHS are possible with the new rule. Means DHS officials or FBI may visit your employer location to check if they are compliant with OPT program rules.
  • Student can be unemployed for 90 days on Initial OPT, and 60 extra days for the ones received 24 month extension.
  • OPT Extension is available for the schools accredited by Department of Education.
  • Students who have used this program may be eligible for another 24 months if they receive a higher degree. For example if a MS student uses the OPT program, subsequently if he receive a Phd, he is now eligible for another 24 months of OPT extension based on his Phd degree.