Ep. 64 STEM Extension Changes

  • STEM OPT proposal will provide for an extension of OPT optional practical training as compared to the 2008 proposal.
  • The proposal will increase the extension from 17 months to 24 months.
  • This will require employers to implement formal mentoring and training programs.
  • Proposal to safeguard US workers in related fields.
  • Students must report to DHS for any changes in their name, address, and employers.

Raw Transcript:

Jacob: You ask, we answer, simple. Welcome to Ask an Immigration Lawyer Podcast. This is your host, Jacob Sapochnick.

In this episode, I just wanted to kind of touch and explain a little bit the major provisions of the recently regular action F1 OPT STEM Extension changes. Those of you who have been following this, the STEM OPT proposal would, again, provide for an extension of OPT optional practical training, which is a work authorization for certain students with STEM degrees. Degrees in Science, Technology, and things like that, as compared to the 2008 proposals.

Some of the changes that were included, they were talking about lengthening the STEM extension period for OPT. The proposal will increase the OPT extension for STEM OPT students from the 2008 17 months to 24 months. The STEM definition for STEM OPT extension, the proposal would more clearly define which fields of study, which department of education. Basically what kind of fields will fall within in this.

Also sets process for public notification the federal register when the DHS updates the list because there’s a confusion as to really what professions or occupation fall within that category. They’re talking about mentoring and training plan. Proposal would require employers to implement formal mentoring and training programs, to augment students’ academic learning through practical experience. That’s something that they also propose.

Another thing is previously obtained STEM degrees. So the proposal would permit an F1 student participating in post-completion OPT to use a prior, eligible STEM degree from a US institution of higher education as a basis to apply for a STEM OPT extension. As long as the student’s most recent degree was also received from an accredited educational institution. That’s very interesting, it’s very broad, and we didn’t have that before.

In addition to talking about in order for such a student to be eligible for the STEM OPT extension, the employment opportunity must be directly related to the previously obtained degree, which is another interesting thing.

They’re going to propose safeguards for US workers in related fields just to protect US workers from adversity. They talked about school accreditation and employer’s side visit. This proposal would enhance the academic benefit and oversight of STEM extension which is good.

In addition to these changes as compared to what were proposed in 2008, the proposal would retain the other provisions from 2008. Among them the E-Verify and reporting requirements for STEM OPT employers, a reporting requirement for STEM OPT students. The students must report to DHS any changes in their name or address as well as their employers. And the Cap Gap Extension for F1 non-immigrant with time filed H1B petitions will remain.

Meaning that if you apply for an H1B in April and your H1B is going to expire — if your OPT will expire before October of the fiscal year, you’ll get an automatic extension between April and October. As long as you file your H1B on April 1st, those things will remain with the new OPT STEM changes.

Hopefully — just kind of give you a quick summary of these major provisions. If you have any other questions, feel free to email us. We look forward to seeing you at our next episode. You ask, we answer, simple. Your host, Jacob Sapochnick,

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