17-Month Extension of Optional Practical Training for STEM Students

NOTICE! The 17-Month STEM OPT program ended on May 9, 2016. Beginning May 10, 2016, all new applications for STEM OPT must now be submitted under the 24-Month STEM OPT program.

If you were approved for 17-Month STEM OPT, you have until August 8, 2016, to apply to transition your 17-Month authorization to 24-Month Authorization under the new rules. If you are applying to for this 7-month extension (to transition your 17-month STEM OPT to 24-month STEM OPT), please follow the instructions for preparing a 24-Month STEM OPT application.

To be eligible for the 7-month extension:

  • You must have at least 150 days remaining of your 17-Month STEM OPT authorization, on the date that you file for your 7-Month extension. This rule is intended to ensure that you will be under the 24-Month rule for a minimum of one full year.
  • You must have a qualifying STEM Majors and be working in a job directly related to your STEM major:
  • You must be working for a qualifying U.S. employer:
    • Your employer must be registered with the E-Verify employment verification system.
    • You and your employer must complete a Form I-983 Training Plan for STEM OPT. 
    • Your STEM OPT employment must be paid and must be at least 20 hours per week.
  • You must be in valid F-1 status:
    • You may not have accrued more than 120 days of unemployment during your current STEM OPT.
  • You must submit your application to USCIS no later than August 8, 2016.

  • Students with Approved 17-Month STEM OPT EADs on May 10, 2016

If your 17-month STEM OPT Employment Authorization Document (EAD) was issued by USCIS on or before May 9, 2016, this authorization under the 17-Month STEM OPT program will remain valid until your EAD expires, is terminated or revoked. If you have approved 17-Month STEM OPT and choose not to convert to 24-Month STEM OPT, you may complete your OPT under the current regulations for 17-Month STEM OPT and are not required to apply for a transition to 24-Month STEM OPT.

You may qualify to submit a 7-Month Extension (to transition your 17-Month STEM OPT to 24-Month STEM OPT) if you have at least 150 days remaining before the end of the your 17-month STEM OPT at the time your application is filed is filed with USCIS, and you otherwise meet all requirements of the 24-month STEM OPT extension. Applications to transition from 17-Month STEM OPT to 24-Month STEM OPT must be received at USICS before August 8, 2016.

  • Students with 17-Month STEM OPT Applications Pending on May 10, 2016

If you filed a STEM OPT application that was not approved before May 9, 2016, and which was pending when the new rule went into effect on May 10, 2016, USCIS will issue a Request for Evidence (RFEs) requesting documentation to show that you are eligible for STEM OPT under the new 24-Month rules. RFEs will, generally, ask that students submit a new Form I-20, endorsed on or after May 10, 2016.  This endorsement indicates that the ISSO recommends the student for a 24-month STEM OPT extension after the student has returned a completed and signed Form I-983.  Please consult with your ISSO advisor upon receipt of an RFE so that we can prepare an new I-20 for your response.

  • Who the Transition Plan does not cover:

In order to transition your 17-Month STEM OPT to 24-Month STEM OPT, you must have at least 150 days remaining on your STEM OPT on the date your file your 7-Month Extension application. If you filed your 7-Month Extension on May 10, 2016 (the day the new rule went into effect), you would have to have 17-Month STEM OPT valid until at least October 7, 2016. Students who do not submit a complete application at least 150 days before the end of their current STEM OPT are ineligible to convert their 17-Month STEM to 24-Month STEM OPT, but may become eligible for an additional STEM OPT after completing a higher degree.

More detailed information about transitioning from 17-Month to 24-Month STEM OPT can be found on the SEVP STEM OPT Hub.

If you have been approved 17-Month STEM OPT and choose not to convert to 24-Month STEM OPT, you may complete your OPT under the current regulations for 17-Month STEM OPT.

In order to continue working on 17-Month STEM OPT:

  • You must have a qualifying STEM Majors and be working in a job directly related to your STEM major
  • You must be working for a qualifying U.S. employer:
    • Your employer must be registered with the E-Verify employment verification system.
  • You must be in valid F-1 status:
    • You may not have accrued more than 120 days of unemployment during your current STEM OPT.

Under 17-Month STEM OPT you are required to:

  • Report any changes to your phone number or residential address (under the “U.S.-Immigration” Address) via the Student Link
  • Report changes in your employer name, address, employment dates under the “OPT Employer” Address via the Student Link
  • Confirm your continued employment every six months under “Six Month Validation” through the OPT Web Portal
  • Report if you change immigration status or complete your OPT through the OPT Web Portal

You are not required to meet the following provisions which apply only under the 24-Month Rule:

  • You and your employer are not required to complete a Form I-983 Training Plan for STEM OPT Students
  • You are not required to complete the 12-Month and Final Evaluations