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Effective April 8, 2008, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) revised its regulations on F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT). The new rule makes recipients of bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in certain STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields eligible for a one-time 17-month extension of post-completion OPT (for a total eligibility of up to 29 months). This rule benefits certain STEM degree holders (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). To view the full list of STEM-Designated Degree Program List, please click on the link: http://www.ice.gov/sevis/stemlist.htm. OPT STEM Extension is a benefit of an F-1 STEM degree student. It is NOT a type of visa.
Student must meet all of the following requirements in order to apply for the OPT STEM Extension:
Students can apply for the OPT STEM Extension as early as 120 days prior to the expiration of the current OPT Employment Authorization Document (EAD), but no later than the expiration of the current OPT EAD. Please note that the OPT STEM Extension application cannot be filed after the expiration of the current OPT EAD.
In addition, USCIS must receive the OPT application within 30 days of the OPT STEM Extension Recommendation Date (This is the date that the FSA entered the OPT STEM Extension recommendation in SEVIS). Usually, the date that is printed on ITEM #10 of the OPT STEM Extension I-20 is the date that the FSA recommended the OPT. (Please verify the OPT STEM Extension Recommendation Date with the FSA at OPT STEP 2.)
STEP 1: Student will drop-off the following documents to IESC: (Students who live outside of California may email these documents to their FSA.)
Please allow 3-5 business days to review and recommend your OPT STEM Extension in SEVIS. An FSA will email you when the OPT STEM Extension I-20 has been issued and is ready for STEP 2.
STEP 2*: The student will return to IESC with following items:
*At STEP 2, the FSA will assemble the application packet and will immediately hand it over to the student. The original OPT STEM Extension I-20 will also be given to the student. Student will keep the original OPT STEM Extension I-20. Do not mail the original OPT STEM Extension to USCIS. The FSA's responsibilities are limited to reviewing the application packet for accuracy. The student is required to mail the OPT STEM Extension Application Packet to the appropriate USCIS Lockbox based on the address that is printed on the student's Form I-765. For students living in California, please mail your packet to Arizona USCIS Lockbox Facility. For students living outside of California, please refer to the Form I-765 Application Instructions (www.uscis.gov) for the appropriate lockbox location.
Important: IESC does not require ANY fees for the services it provides to international students. No fees, under any circumstances, shall be submitted to IESC.
An F-1 student is eligible for a maximum of 17 months of OPT STEM Extension. By default, the start date of the OPT STEM Extension will be the day after the EAD expires. SEVIS will automatically calculate 17 months and use that date as the official end date for the OPT STEM Extension period. If the OPT STEM Extension application is approved, the student will receive the EAD from USCIS via mail. The start and end dates will be printed on the EAD. These dates are the authorized period for OPT STEM Extension.
Students may continue working for up to 180 days with their expired OPT EAD while their OPT STEM Extension application is pending with USCIS or until the final decision is made on the I-765, whichever comes first. Student must stop working if the application is denied.
|Mail OPT STEM Extension Packet||Mark your calendar.|
|G-1145||Receive an email or text message within 24 hours upon receipt of application from USCIS Lockbox.|
|Certified Return Receipt||Receive Green Postcard within 2-3 weeks.|
|Notice Receipt (I-797)||Receive official notification within 3-4 weeks from time of mailing.|
|Online Case Status||Track the status of the OPT STEM Extension application after receiving I-797.|
|OPT STEM Extension EAD||Receive EAD 90 days from date on I-797. Student will contact a FSA if he has not received the EAD within 90 days from the date shown on the I-797 Notice of Action.|
F-1 Students must maintain all of the following requirements while on OPT:
While on OPT, students are responsible for reporting their U.S. address, company name and address, and any periods of unemployment every six months to IESC. Please click on this link to report your personal and OPT employer information: http://studentvoice.com/csun/optemployerreportingform. Your information will be updated automatically. Also, please email a copy of your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your full name and CSUN ID # in the subject line.
Warning! SEVIS records of students who fail to report their information within the required time will be automatically terminated.
Effective April 8, 2008, F-1 status is dependent on employment while the student is on OPT. Students may not accrue an aggregate of 120 days of unemployment during their OPT and OPT STEM Extension period. Students who accrue more than 120 days of unemployment will be considered out of F1 status. Students must notify their FSA if they are nearing their 120th day of unemployment to discuss their future plans to remain in correct immigration status. Otherwise, students will need to depart the U.S.
The student must use the new OPT STEM Extension I-20 for all purposes including travel. Travel risks –Please note that the EAD states "Not valid for re-entry to the United States." F-1 students must have the following documents to re-enter the U.S.:With a pending OPT STEM Extension application, the student will need:
*IMPORTANT: If your OPT EAD has expired, you may not travel outside the U.S. You will need to wait to receive the new EAD for the OPT STEM Extension.
At the end of OPT STEM Extension period, the student can select ONE of the following options: (must be done within 60 days of the EAD expiration date).
Please contact IESC at (818) 677-3053 or email your Foreign Student Advisor for questions and/or clarifications.
Rev 02/26/2013 PM