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F-1 STEM Based OPT Extended up to 3 Years


Recently the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) amended their existing regulations with regards to F-1 nonimmigrant student visas. Typically these visas allow students who have degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) from a U.S. institution of higher education to pursue optional practical training (OPT) for a 12 month period.

Previously, these students were able to apply for a 17-month STEM OPT extension beyond this 12-month period, but this is now being replaced by a 24-month extension period, allowing them to effectively remain in the U.S. for a total of 3 years.

Additional Benefits of This Ruling

This new amendment will also increase the level of attention being brought to these STEM OPT extensions and implement certain safeguards to make sure that these students are not replacing U.S. workers, requiring the following:

  • That the student's employers provide formal training plans
  • That the only students who are given this extension have degrees from accredited schools
  • That wages for STEM OPT students and U.S. workers are protected, among other things

As with the previous rules for the 17-month extension plan, all STEM OPT extensions have to be with employers who are E-verified. The same goes for any F-1 student with a time-sensitive H-1B petition who has requested a change of status who is under the "Cap-Gap" relief program initiated by the DHS in 2008.

When will this new rule be effective?

Beginning May 10, 2016 this new rule will go into effect, except for the addition of 8 CFR 214.16 which will be effective from May 10, 2016 to May 10, 2019.

If you need assistance with an F-1 visa or any other immigration need in Dallas,contact Mathur Law Offices, P.C. today for representation from a qualified immigration attorney who has your best interests in mind.