STEM

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The term often refers to the Designated Degree program requiring a degree in one of these fields of study. STEM programs, in recognition of their importance to US interests, are awarded special consideration in certain areas under US immigration laws.

Federal Register: Improving and Expanding Training Opportunities for F-1 Nonimmigrant Students With STEM Degrees and Cap-Gap Relief for All Eligible F-1 Students

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposes to amend its F-1 nonimmigrant student visa regulations on optional practical training (OPT) for certain students with degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) from U.S. institutions of higher education. Specifically, the proposal would allow such F-1 STEM students who have elected to pursue 12 months of OPT in the United States to extend the OPT period by 24 months (STEM OPT extension).

New Rules for 17-Month STEM Extension (Ongoing Updates until completed)

24 December 2015

DHS has asked for an additional extension of stay to 10 May 2016 of the court order under which the STEM extension of OPT was invalidated by the DC federal court.  DHS needs time to review appx. 50,500 comments they have received on the new proposed regulations.  Historical discussion pertaining to the lawsuit is at this link: http://www.immigration.com/blogs/17-month-stem-cap-gap-opt-extension-voided-court

DHS proposes changes related to on-the-job training program for STEM students

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)  proposed changes to its regulations that would strengthen and enhance the process for foreign students with science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degrees from a U.S. college or university to get practical training experience in the United States.  The enhancement of this regulation was announced as a part of President Obama’s November Executive Actions. 

17-Month STEM CAP GAP OPT Extension Voided by Court

A Washington DC Federal court has held that DHS improperly promulgated the 2008 regulations creating the 17-month OPT CAP GAP extension for STEM graduates (strictly speaking, this is not reallly "CAP GAP" issue).  According to the court, DHS should have placed the proposed regulation before the public, allowed everyone to comment, considered the comments and then published the final regulation.  Thus, DHS violated the procedural mandate requiring "notice and comment."  According to the court, there was no good reason to skip the "notice and comment" mandate.

F-1 OPT Requirements

Question details

1. How do I apply for F-1 OPT?

2. How do I get a 17-month STEM extension of my post-completion OPT?

1. Once you receive a recommendation for post-completion OPT from your Designated School Official (DSO) to pursue OPT, you must apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) with USCIS within 30 days. Additionally, you may file up to 90 days prior to your program end-date and not later than 60 days after your program end date. 

USCIS Releases Policy Memo on 17-Month Extension of Post-Completion OPT for F-1 Students Enrolled in STEM Degree Programs

  • USCIS interim memo clarifying the eligibility requirements for a 17-month extension of Post-Completion OPT for F-1 students enrolled in STEM degree programs. Comments accepted until 11/1/13 and memo is in effect until further notice.

Please check the attached memo.

OPT to H-1B

Question details

I am currently on my Post-completion OPT. I was recently hired as an IT by a company which agreed to sponsor my H-1B. My OPT expires on January 2013. I've done my Associate Degree in Computer Science. Also, I have BS in Computer Science but from foreign country. Seven year experience in IT.I had my BS evaluated recently. It is equivalent to US Bachelors Degree in Computer Science Computer Technology.

Q1: I will have a gap of 3 months before April 1. How to maintain my status?

Q2: I am under STEM not with my US AAS but with my foreign BS degree. Can I extend my OPT with my evaluated diploma?

A1. You can consider going back to school or B-1/B-2 status. There is information on our blog on B-1/B-2 to maintain status.