The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that it would extend the period of Optional Practical Training (OPT) from 12 to 29 months for qualified F-1 non-immigrant students. The extension will be available to F-1 students with degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics who are employed by businesses enrolled in the E-Verify program.
The new regulation also addresses situations in which an F-1 student's status and work authorization expire before he or she can begin employment under an H-1B visa. The rule responds to this problem by automatically extending the period of stay and work authorization for all F-1 students with pending H-1B petitions. The rule also allows students to apply for OPT within 60 days of graduation.
To be eligible for an OPT extension, an F-1 nonimmigrant must meet the following criteria:
- Currently be participating in a 12-month period of approved post-completion OPT
- Have successfully completed a degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) included in the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List from a college or university certified by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Student and Exchange Visitor Program
- Be working for a U.S. employer in a job directly related to the student's major area of study
- Be working for, or accepted employment with, an employer enrolled in U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services' E-Verify program. E-verify is a free, internet-based system operated in partnership with the Social Security Administration that helps employers to determine the employment eligibility of newly-hired employees
- Properly maintain F-1 status
If you meet the aforementioned requirements, you may qualify for an OPT extension. The attorneys at Harrison Alo, Attorneys at Law have extensive experienced in assisting clients with issues related to F-1 student status and change of status from F-1 to H, L, and other visa types. They are available to answer your questions and address your concerns.