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17-MONTH EXTENSION OF F1 OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING (OPT)

WHAT IS A 17-MONTH EXTENSION OF OPT?

 Practical work experience authorization that extends OPT for another 17 months for those who have earned a degree in a field included on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) list of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields.

 WHO IS ELIGIBLE FOR THE 17-MONTH EXTENSION OPT?

• An F1 student who has been approved for and is currently engaged in post-completion OPT and

• Has earned a degree in a field included on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) list of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields and

• Is employed in a job directly related to his/her field of study and

• Is employed by a company that is enrolled in the U.S. government’s E-Verify program.

NOTE: All four of the above criteria must be met in order for a student to be eligible for the 17-Month Extension OPT.

 

IS MY DEGREE IN A STEM FIELD?

 Please refer to the list of all UCM majors which correspond to the official list of STEM Degree Programs . If you have earned a degree under one of these majors, you may be eligible for the 17-month extension. You may also contact the International Center to speak with an advisor to determine if you are STEM eligible.

WHAT IS E-VERIFY?

E-Verify is an Internet-based system that allows an employer, using information reported on an employee's Form I-9, to determine the eligibility of that employee to work in the United States. For more information visit: www.dhs.gov/e-verify.

WHEN SHOULD ONE APPLY FOR THE 17-MONTH EXTENSION?

You may file an application as early as 90-120 days before completing the initial OPT. In addition to the I-765 form and other documents for OPT, the extension requires a copy of your academic diploma or transcripts and copy of your employment letter. You will also need the company's six-digit E-Verify code. The application must be approved by the International Center and then submitted to the USCIS Lock Box in Phoenix, Arizona. The processing of the application and the creation of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) typically takes 10-16 weeks, so you are encouraged to apply as early as possible before an employment start date. You can continue working for the company as long as you have received the receipt from the USCIS Nebraska Service Center for the extension application.

To apply for the Optional Practical Training 17-Month Extension, the following forms must be printed and submitted to the International Center, Ward Edwards 1200, along with all supporting documents:

Optional Practical Training 17-Month Extension Request (pdf)

USCIS Application for Employment Authorization (I-765) Form for requesting OPT Extension

 

WHAT HAPPENS WHILE THE APPLICATION IS PENDING?

 If the application for the 17-month extension is received by USCIS prior to the expiration of the first OPT period, students may continue employment until the application is processed or until 180 days have passed, whichever is sooner.

REPORTING REQUIREMENTS DURING THE 17-MONTH EXTENSION:

Students approved for the 17-month extension have additional reporting requirements in order to maintain their status and work authorization.

  • Students must report to the International Center within 10 days if there is any change of:

o Legal name

o Residential or mailing address

o Employer name

o Employer address, and/or

o Loss of employment

  • Students must make a validation report to the International Center every six months (regardless of whether or not there have been any changes) to confirm name and address, employer name and address, and continuation of employment.

 

LIMITATIONS ON UNEMPLOYMENT:

During the OPT extension period, students will receive an additional 30 days of allowable unemployment. They may be considered out of status if total unemployment time exceeds 120 days.

17-MONTH EXTENSION AVAILABLE ONCE:

The 17-month extension of OPT is only available once to each student. A student who is approved for a 17-month extension can never apply for it again. Note that this rule is different from the application rules for the “regular” 12-month OPT, under which students could be approved for multiple OPT periods for each higher degree earned in the U.S. (i.e. Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctoral).

CHANGING EMPLOYER DURING 17-MONTH EXTENSION:

 Changing employer during the 17-month extension is permitted as long as it is an E-Verified employer and employer information must be reported to OISS within 10 days of new employment. New/Change of Employment (for students on OPT/OPT Extension)

STARTING AND ENDING DATES:

 The start date of the 17-month extension will be automatically set to the day after the expiration of the current 12-month OPT authorization. The end date will be 17 months later. It is not possible to request smaller increments of time for the OPT extension.