17 Month F-1 OPT Extension For Students With STEM Degrees
During the initial period of 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT), certain government-designated
STEM degree-holders (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in the following fields may be eligible for an additional 17 months of OPT, for a total of 29 months. The degree programs that qualify for a STEM extension are listed at http://www.ice.gov/sevis/stemlist.htm
Note that the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code is printed next to “Primary Major” under the student name on page 3 of the Brandeis University I-20. It is recommended that you utilize the STEM Extension before changing to H-1B status. However, please consult your employer first. Some employers may prefer you to change to H-1B status.
Benefits of STEM:
- Changing employers is easily possible. This is more difficult if on an H-1B.
- Maximizes your employment authorization time in the U.S.
- Application is less expensive. $380 fee vs $$$$ for an H-1B.
- No cap on STEM extensions unlike an H-1B
Requirements for 17-month STEM extensions:
- Student must be currently participating in a 12-month period of Brandeis University administered OPT and working for a U.S. employer in a job directly related to the student’s major area of study.
- Student must have successfully completed a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in a field on the DHS STEM
- Designated Degree Program List.
- Student must have a job or job offer from an employer registered with the E-Verify employment verification system.(E-Verify information at http://www.uscis.gov/E-Verify)
- Student has not previously received a 17-month OPT extension
- Brandeis University ISSO must recommend the 17-month OPT extension in SEVIS, after verifying a student's eligibility, certifying that the student's degree is on the STEM Designated Degree Program List, and ensuring that the student is aware of his or her responsibilities for maintaining status while on OPT.
- Student must apply for the 17-month extension on Form I-765 with fee. Students who timely file an application for the 17-month OPT extension will be able to continue employment while the extension application is pending, until a final decision on the I-765 or for 180 days, whichever comes first.
- Employer must agree to report the termination or departure of the student to the ISSO by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. An employer must consider a worker to have departed when the employer knows the student has left employment, or if the student has not reported for work for a period of 5 consecutive business days without the employer's consent.