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U.S. Modifies F1 Visa: International STEM Students to Gain

The US Department of Homeland Security has announced a big change to the F1 visa for students. What is the change? And whom does it benefit? Read below.
BY Skendha Singh |   15-03-2016

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has announced changes to the F-1 student visa, which will allow STEM students to stay on in the U.S. for three years of on-the-job training, post-graduation.

While all international students are eligible to stay on for an initial 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT), the change will allow STEM OPT applicants a further extension of 24 months, instead of the earlier 17. It will also allow non-STEM graduates to participate, if they graduated with a STEM degree anytime in the last ten years. So an MBA graduate, with a Bachelors in Industrial Engineering from a recognized American university, can also avail this opportunity.

To qualify, the student must have a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in a STEM program, which is listed on the DHS website. He or she must not have already received a 17 month OPT extension. Another important point to note is these STEM extensions will only be available for students whose employers participate in the E-verify programme. To address employer questions, the Immigration Support Services will host a webinar on March 22.

The new rule is part of what President Obama called, “commonsense immigration reforms.” Nearly one million international students are enrolled in American universities. But holes in the immigration system mean their skills are lost to the US, once they graduate. The rule is expected to ensure a smoother transition and assimilation of students in the workforce. It will also significantly boost the attractiveness of American higher education instituions.
 

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Angela Robinson-Wheaton
Student F1 Visas updates
01 April 2016


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