Students with existing 17-month STEM OPT EADs may no longer apply to transition their EAD to the 24-month STEM OPT EAD. If you are a current 17-month STEM OPT participant who applied for the additional seven months by the August 8, 2016 deadline and have questions about the status of your application, please contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The new STEM OPT extension is a 24-month period of temporary training that directly relates to an F-1 student’s program of study in an approved STEM field. This extension replaced the 17-month STEM OPT extension previously available to certain STEM F-1 students.
Students with existing 17-month STEM OPT EADs are not required to transition their extension by requesting an additional seven-month period. Current EADs indicating a 17-month OPT extension remain valid until expiration (unless terminated or revoked) and the student, the student’s employer and the student’s DSO must continue to abide by all of the terms and conditions that were in effect when the EAD was issued.
Who the Transition Plan Covers
To ensure a smooth transition, DHS is providing basic transition information and will implement a transition plan that covers two categories of eligible F-1 students:
- Students with Pending 17-Month STEM OPT Extension Applications
- Students with Existing 17-Month STEM OPT Extensions
Who the Transition Plan Does Not Cover
Students who have less than 150 days remaining on their 17-month STEM OPT extension EADs as of the date they file their STEM OPT extension are not covered under the transition plan. The plan also does not cover students who are in their 60-day grace period.
These students are ineligible to benefit from the 24-month STEM extension for purposes of practical training associated with their most current degree and are therefore not covered under the transition plan.
To become eligible for the 24-month STEM extension, students who are not covered under the transition plan would need to earn another qualifying STEM degree at a higher educational level.
60-Day Grace Period
If a student anticipates that he or she will enter the 60-day grace period before May 10, 2016, the student should not wait to apply for STEM OPT.
Under both the 17-month STEM OPT regulations and the 24-month STEM OPT regulations, students may not apply for a STEM OPT extension after they have entered the 60-day grace period following the expiration of their period of post-completion OPT. Students interested in obtaining a STEM OPT extension should, therefore, apply for the 17-month STEM OPT extension before their initial period of post-completion OPT expires and follow the respective transition plan that applies to them.