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OPT and the STEM Extension

As international students holding F-1 visas prepare to graduate, many apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) to receive employment authorization for a year or more.

Who Qualifies for STEM Extension?

Although Optional Practical Training for some F-1 students is restricted to 12 months, other international students will qualify for an additional 17 months of OPT (for a total of 29 months) based on a “STEM extension” if:

  1. The employer participates in E-Verify;
  2. The student’s degree is in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics; and
  3. The student is working in that field.

If you are an international student or if you employ recent international graduates in any of the STEM fields, obtain the legal help and services you need and have all of your immigration questions answered by an experienced Ohio immigration attorney. We have offices in Dublin & Columbus, while also serving clients nationwide.

How to Apply for OPT STEM Extension?

The F-1 visa holder must apply for the 17-month STEM extension within 120 days prior to the end of the 12-month OPT period, and the employment authorization will be usually be extended for 180 days. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must receive Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization for the STEM Extension) before the end of the 12-month OPT period.

It’s wise to apply for the STEM extension between 90 and 120 days before the end of the 12-month OPT period. To be sure you are on the right track, its wise to speak with an immigration attorney – and make sure that you have all of the documents you need and meet all of the requirements – as early as possible in the process.

Many international graduates genuinely appreciate the opportunity to gain work experience in the United States. Some will be offered permanent jobs and opportunities to change immigration status, obtain green cards, and eventually to become naturalized citizens.

How Our Lawyers Can Help

If you are an international student or a recent graduate – or a U.S.-based employer – don’t wait. Contact us today to speak with a skilled and diligent Ohio immigration attorney about the immigration-related legal advice and services you need.

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