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If you're eligible for an OPT extension, you need to act fast

The US extended the optional practical training period for science, technology, engineering, and math degree students from 17 to 24 months earlier this year. Here’s how to grab the opportunity.
BY Braingain Staff Writer |   15-07-2016

On May 10 this year, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) effectively replaced the 17-month extension of the optional practical training (OPT) for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) degree students with a 24-month extension. If you applied for a 17-month extension before May 10, and the application is still in process, you should receive a prompt to amend your application. But what if you already have a 17-month extension?

Well, you need not lose out on your additional seven months. However, it’s your responsibility to act – and you must do that by August 8!

The DHS cannot automatically convert your 17-month extension into a 24-month one, for reasons related to training plan requirements, reporting requirements, and employer attestations, among other things. These requirements help ensure that those who get the seven extra months are covered by the improved compliance, reporting and oversight measures of the new rules.

Use this checklist to see if you qualify for an additional seven months.

  1. I have at least 150 calendar days remaining on my employment authorization document (EAD).
  2. I meet the requirements for the 24-month STEM OPT extension as listed here.
  3. I have worked with my potential employer to complete Form I-983 (Training Plan for STEM OPT students).
  4. I have submitted the completed and signed Form I-983 to my designated school official (DSO).
  5. My DSO has recommended me for the 24-month STEM OPT extension in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
  6. I have obtained a new Form I-20 (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status).
  7. I have filed a Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), along with fees and supporting documentation, for the seven-month extension.
  8. I have received approval of my application for a seven-month extension from USCIS.
     

Of course, you may choose not to apply for the additional seven months. If you apply and receive a denial from USCIS, you are ineligible and must leave the US, unless you are authorized for another status or to start a new program of study within 60 days of your OPT ending.

 

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