In April 2008 a directive came from the Department of Homeland Security allowing certain students to apply for up to a 17 month extension of their OPT period bringing up to a maximum of 29 months being allowed to work under this status. This temporary interim ruling was designed to provide a permanent solution to what is known as the H-1B visa "cap-gap".
The foreign students that are eligible for this are those that have graduated in areas designated as important to the US economy with lots of open position but a constant shortfall among US citizen graduates. This includes Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics as designated by the USCIS.
It should be noted that for approval that your OPT approval must be based on one of these types of degrees. That means if you have an undergraduate degree in one of these areas and a master's degree in something else but your OPT program is approved based on your Master's degree say in education, then you are not eligible for the extension.
It is also mandatory that your employer be enrolled in the free US Government E-Verify program and that you apply for this extension prior to the expiry of your current OPT period.
What is the Process for the STEM OPT 17 month Extension & Costs?
* Again the foreign student must file Form I-765 with USCIS which again costs $340. Additionally you must include with filing your Form I-20 endorsed by the DSO at your school and then a copy of your degree in one of the designated STEM fields of study. This is effectively an amendment to your original form I-765 filing as well as for inclusion of your Employers E-Verify information.
* According to the USCIS If there is a delay in the 17 month extension processing of the application by the USCIS and the student filed the STEM extension ahead of time, there is an up to 180 extension of employment authorization.
CJ makes US Immigration easy to understand so foreigners can get their F1 visa successfully. We show you all the steps from finding a job or a college, getting a US visa and then how to adjust to life easily in the US.
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