Good News: Additional STEM Programs Announced to be Eligible for 17-month OPT Extension
In the midst of May 2012, the 1-year OPT (Optional Practical Training) period for international students who graduated in May of 2011 is coming to an end. At the same time, due to the new policy launched in April 2008, B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. students in the STEM program (i.e. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are becoming eligible for another 17 month OPT extension, which can extend their OPT period for a total of up to 29 months.
The potential additional 17 months enables STEM students to legally stay and work in the US for a longer period of time. More importantly, since in certain cases a student may not receive an H-1B before the cap is reached during the Fiscal Year that they graduate, this additional time can enable a student to continue working until the next Fiscal Year.
International students can check whether their major qualifies under the STEM program at their International Student and Scholar Service/Office, or by using the following link:
Since the most recent update (Additions are in Bold), the STEM program covers about 400 majors.
Please note that STEM OPT extension is specifically an extension, which means that the applicant for such an extension must already have an approved, regular 1-year OPT. Then they may complete the STEM extension application, which can be submitted within 120 days before the existent approved OPT expires. The general procedures for applying for regular OPT are outlined below, and can usually be found on most ISSS/ISSO websites.
The general procedures for STEM OPT extension are outlined below:
STEM OPT extension applications have to be submitted within 120 days before the current OPT expires. Once the application is received by USCIS, the applicant may legally stay and work for another 180 days, or until the decision is made.
Additionally, to maintain legal status during the extended OPT, the holder has to work at least 20 hours per week for the E-verify-participating employer. Additionally, the holder cannot remain unemployed for more than 120 days during the 17-month OPT period.
For more information on OPT and STEM extension, please refer to http://www.hooyou.com/news/news040708opt.html
Finally, we would also like to remind those who plan to apply for H-1B visas that as of May 11, 2012, according to USCIS, 36,700 out of the 65,000 regular H-1B cap slots for this Fiscal Year have already been used, and 14,800 out of the 20,000 slots for U.S. advanced degree holders have already been used.
If your employer is willing to sponsor your H-1B application, please contact us at email@example.com and we will provide you with a free evaluation and help you file your H-1B as soon as possible.
Founded in 1996, Zhang & Attorneys, L.P. offers legal services to clients nationwide in all aspects of U.S immigration law. We have successfully handled thousands of immigration cases.
At Zhang & Attorneys, L.P., our attorneys and supporting professionals are committed to providing high-quality immigration and non-immigration visa services. We specialize in NIW, EB-1, PERM, and I-485 cases. In the past sixteen years, we have successfully helped thousands of clients get green cards. If you plan to apply for a green card, please send your CV to Attorney Jerry Zhang (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a free evaluation.
Zhang & Attorneys, L.P.
Silicon Valley New York Los Angeles Chicago Houston Austin