Students who currently hold an OPT STEM Extension card, valid for 17 months, must apply before August 8, 2016 if the student wishes to request an additional 7 months, under the new 24 month STEM Extension Program created earlier this year.
On March 11, 2016 the USCIS published the rules of a new, expanded STEM Extension OPT program. The new STEM Extension went into effect on May 10, 2016. Among other changes, the program extended the length of the STEM Extension from 17 months to 24 months. For an outline of the new requirements for students and employers under the updated STEM Extension Program, please see our previous blog post from May 4, 2016.
The USCIS outlined a series of transition rules for three primary groups of students impacted by the implementation of the new STEM Extension Program:
1. Students on a 17 month STEM Extension can request the full 24 month STEM extension period, if they apply for a new OPT card before August 8, 2016. If the student elects not to ask for the full 24 month STEM extension, the student should complete the 17 month STEM OPT Period under the old rules.
2. Students with a pending 17 month STEM Extension should receive an RFE requesting the new form I-983 Training Plan. An RFE Response amends the application to the full 24 months STEM extension period.
3. Students on a 12 month OPT expiring after June 1 must file the STEM Extension under the 24 month program.
Students eligible for OPT STEM Extensions are in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. Please check with your student advisor if you qualify for a STEM Extension based on your field of study.