International Programs and Global Engagement

17-MONTH EXTENSION OF OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING
Eligibility Requirements and Application Procedures

GENERAL INFORMATION: International students currently approved for 12-months of initial Optional Practical Training who have graduated with a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in certain STEM fields and are employed may be eligible to apply for a one-time 17-month extension of their initial 12-month OPT (for a total 29 months).

1. STUDENT ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS: All of the following eligibility requirements must be met to qualify for the 17-month extension.

Fields of study: In order to be eligible for the 17-month extension, applicants must be currently engaged in a 12-month initial period of OPT based on a designated STEM degree. Previous periods of authorized OPT or previous degrees are not applicable. STEM approved fields of study are currently limited to the following majors:

  • Biological Sciences
  • Computer Science
  • Chemistry
  • Engineering (Civil, Computer, Electrical, Mechanical, and Software)
  • Geology
  • Mathematics
  • Physical Science
  • Physics
  • Statistics

The applicant must have successfully GRADUATED with a Bachelor's, Master's, or doctoral degree in one of the above fields.

Note: Graduate students who have met all requirements for the Master's degree with the exception of the Thesis or Project, but have not graduated yet, are NOT eligible for this benefit.

Employment / Field of Employment: The applicant must be currently working for a US employer in a position directly related to their field of study. The employment used as the basis for the 17-month extension must be "paid employment". Unpaid employment will not be considered employment justifying the 17-month extension.

Previous Unemployment: OPT students cannot be unemployed for more than 90 days during their initial 12-month period of OPT (unemployment days prior to April 8, 2008 will not be considered). Students with more than 90 days of unemployment during their initial 12- months of OPT may be considered out of status by the USCIS and will have applications for future benefits denied. Days of unemployment will be calculated beginning on the day of OPT approval by USCIS.

Reporting Requirements: OPT students must agree to meet all mandatory reporting requirements during their approved 17-month extension (please refer to the attached "Student Responsibilities and Reporting Requirements" for list of requirements).

2. EMPLOYER ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

E-Verify: The OPT student's employer must be currently registered in the E-Verify program (and considered to be in good standing in this program by the US Citizenship and Immigration Service).

E-Verify is a free internet based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration that assists employers in verifying the employment eligibility of new employees. An employer must agree to E-Verify all future employees (both American and Foreign) during the hiring process. For more information, please see www.uscis.gov/everify.

Employer's Agreement Contract: The OPT student's supervisor will be required to complete an "Employer's Agreement Contract". This contract details the employer's eligibility requirements and reporting responsibilities. In this contract the employer agrees to:

  • Provide the Designated School Official (DSO) at the student's school the company name and address, as well as the name, title, and contact information of the OPT student's supervisor.
  • Provide a valid E-Verify company identification number, or if using a designated agent to perform the E-Verify queries, then a valid E-Verify client company identification number.
  • Report the termination or departure of an OPT employee to the DSO at the student's school within 48 hours. Employers "shall consider a worker to have departed when the employer knows the student has left the employment or if the student has not reported for work for a period of 5 consecutive business days without the consent of the employer, whichever occurs earlier"
  • As the extension is limited to certain STEM fields, the employer will need to write a statement verifying how the OPT student's employment relates to the STEM field.

3. 17 MONTH OPT EXTENSION RESTRICTIONS AND LIMITATIONS

  • One time only: The 17-month extension is available only once during a student's lifetime. A student is NOT eligible to receive an extension more than once, regardless of degree level.
  • One period only: The extension can only be granted in one 17-month period; the extension cannot be "split" into 2 periods.
  • Previous OPT / degrees: An OPT extension must be based on a currently authorized period of OPT after completion of a Bachelor's, Master's, or PhD in one of the designated STEM fields. Non-STEM fields are not eligible for the extension. Previous degrees in STEM areas are also not eligible.
  • Unemployment: Students granted a 17-month OPT extension may not accrue more than 120 days of unemployment during the total 29-month OPT period (initial OPT + extension of OPT).
  • Change of Employer: Students may change employers after being approved for a 17 month extension. Change of employer is not advised while the extension application is pending as the I-765 lists a specific employer.
  • Multiple Employers: After applying for an extension, students may NOT be concurrently employed with a non-E-Verify employer. While on a 17-month extension, students are only allowed to be employed by employers who are registered with E-Verify.

17 MONTH EXTENSION OF OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING
Application Procedures

Application Filing Period: Applications must be received by the USCIS office which has jurisdiction over your state of current residence BEFORE your initial 12 month OPT EAD expires.

Employment Dates: The authorized employment for the 17-month extension will begin on the day after the expiration of the 12-month initial OPT EAD and will end 17 months later regardless of the date the extension is approved. If the I-765 is properly filed before the current OPT EAD expires, the student's employment authorization is considered automatically extended for up to 180 days while the EAD application is pending.

TO APPLY SUBMIT THE FOLLOWING:

Verification of Degree Completion: Obtain evidence confirming completion of a Bachelor's, Master's or PhD in an approved STEM field. Qualifying evidence includes at least one of the following:

  • Official University Transcripts with degree posted
  • Unofficial University Transcript with degree posted
  • Photocopy of diploma (if program of study / degree level are clearly stated).

Employer Information: Original "Employer's Agreement Contract" completed by your current Supervisor. Your employer should retain a copy of this document for their records.

Employer Statement: As employment must directly relate to the STEM field, a statement (on company letterhead) from the employer regarding how the employment relates to the STEM field may help in the adjudication of the extension.

Photos: Have two US Passport Style Photos taken (see attached description for photo measurements). List your name and I-94 number on the back of both photos.

Signature Card: Sign the USCIS Form I-765 Signature Card in black ink. The signature should be within the rectangular signature block.

I-765:Complete the USCIS Form I-765 items 1-17

  • Item 16: ( c ) ( 3 ) ( C )
  • Item 17: Degree: List the major as it appears on the SEVIS I-20 (page 1, item 5) not the one used by the university (if different)

FEE: Prepare a check payable to "Department of Homeland Security". Fee $340.00

IMMIGRATION DOCUMENTS:Bring the following documents with you. We will make photocopies to submit with your application.

  • OPT EAD authorized for 12 months of initial OPT
  • I-20 issued for the initial 12 months of OPT
  • Your valid passport.
  • Your US visa

MAIL: Your advisor at the International Programs and Global Engagement will prepare a new SEVIS I-20 for the 17-month OPT, make the necessary written USCIS recommendations, sign and copy all appropriate forms, and return a packet for you to mail directly to the USCIS Service Center.

REMINDER: Applications should be mailed to the USCIS Center which has jurisdiction for the state of current residence (which is not necessarily the USCIS Center which processed the initial 12 month OPT).

If living in California then, mail the application packet to:

USCIS California Service Center
P.O. Box 10765
Laguna Niguel, CA 92607-1076

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17 MONTH EXTENSION OF OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING
Student Responsibilities and Reporting Requirements

During the 17 month extension of OPT, students must meet the following reporting requirements:

OPT Card:

Address Change: Inform IPGE of all changes of address within 10 days of moving.

Email Address:Please keep IPGE informed of your preferred email address.

Employment Information: OPT regulations state that maintenance of F-1 OPT status is dependent on employment. It is important that you report the following information with us so that we may make the required updates to your SEVIS record in a timely manner.

  • Inform IPGE of your employer name and address within 10 days of hire.
  • Inform IPGE if you terminate your employment within 10 days of termination.
  • Inform IPGE of new employer name and address within 10 days of resuming employment.
  • During your 12 months of initial OPT you may not be unemployed for more than a total of 90 days without jeopardizing your status. During the extension of OPT, an additional 30 days of unemployment is allow for a total of no more than 120 days total (initial + extension).

Name Change: Inform the IPGE if any official change to your name occurs. You will need to first update your passport before changes to your immigration documents can be processed.

Change of Immigration Status: If your status changes to another visa type / permanent residency, please inform the IPGE so we may make any necessary updates.

Permanent Departure from the US: Inform the IPGE if you plan to return to your home country and cease your OPT.

VALIDATION REPORTING: In addition to the above requirements, students are also required to make a "validation report" to the IPGE every 6 months. The 6 month period begins from the date the 17 month extension starts and ends when the 17 month extension ends - or when the student changes educational levels at the same school, the student transfers to another school, whichever is first. The validation is a confirmation that the student's name and address, employer name and address, and/or loss of employment is current and accurate. The report is due to the DSO within 10 business days of each reporting date.

First Report due: ____________________________________

Second Report due: _________________________________

I understand my reporting responsibilities during my 17 months extension of Optional Practical training.

Printed Name: ________________________________________________________________________

Signature: ________________________________________ Date Signed: ________________________

We recommended that you keep this document in a visible location.

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17-MONTH EXTENSION OF OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING
Eligibility Requirements and Application Procedures
GENERAL INFORMATION: International students currently approved for 12-months of initial Optional Practical Training who have graduated with a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in certain STEM fields and are employed may be eligible to apply for a one-time 17-month extension of their initial 12-month OPT (for a total 29 months).

I. STUDENT ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS: All of the following eligibility requirements must be met to qualify for the 17-month extension.

Fields of study:

  • Biological Sciences
  • Computer Science
  • Chemistry
  • Engineering (Civil, Computer, Electrical, Mechanical, and Software)
  • Geology
  • Mathematics
  • Physical Science
  • Physics
  • Statistics

Completion of Academic Degree: The applicant must have successfully GRADUATED with a Bachelor's, Master's, or doctoral degree in one of the above fields.

Note: Graduate students who have met all requirements for the Master's degree with the exception of the Thesis or Project, but have not graduated yet, are NOT eligible for this benefit.

Employment/Field of Employment: The applicant must be currently working for a US employer in a position directly related to their field of study. The employment used as the basis for the 17-month extension must be "paid employment". Unpaid employment will not be considered employment justifying the 17-month extension.

Previous Unemployment: OPT students cannot be unemployed for more than 90 days during their initial 12-month period of OPT (unemployment days prior to April 8, 2008 will not be considered). Students with more than 90 days of unemployment during their initial 12- months of OPT may be considered out of status by the USCIS and will have applications for future benefits denied. Days of unemployment will be calculated beginning on the day of OPT approval by USCIS.

Reporting Requirements: OPT students must agree to meet all mandatory reporting requirements during their approved 17-month extension (please refer to the attached "Student Responsibilities and Reporting Requirements" for list of requirements).

II. EMPLOYER ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

E-Verify: The OPT student's employer must be currently registered in the E-Verify program (and considered to be in good standing in this program by the US Citizenship and Immigration Service).

E-Verify is a free internet based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security and the Social Security Administration that assists employers in verifying the employment eligibility of new employees. An employer must agree to E-Verify all future employees (both American and Foreign) during the hiring process. For more information, please see www.uscis.gov/everify.

Employer's Agreement Contract: The OPT student's supervisor will be required to complete an "Employer's Agreement Contract". This contract details the employer's eligibility requirements and reporting responsibilities. In this contract the employer agrees to:

  • Provide the Designated School Official (DSO) at the student's school the company name and address, as well as the name, title, and contact information of the OPT student's supervisor.
  • Provide a valid E-Verify company identification number, or if using a designated agent to perform the E-Verify queries, then a valid E-Verify client company identification number.
  • Report the termination or departure of an OPT employee to the DSO at the student's school within 48 hours. Employers "shall consider a worker to have departed when the employer knows the student has left the employment or if the student has not reported for work for a period of 5 consecutive business days without the consent of the employer, whichever occurs earlier".
  • As the extension is limited to certain STEM fields, the employer will need to write a statement verifying how the OPT student's employment relates to the STEM field.

III. 17 MONTH OPT EXTENSION RESTRICTIONS AND LIMITATIONS

One time only: The 17-month extension is available only once during a student's lifetime. A student is NOT eligible to receive an extension more than once, regardless of degree level.

One period only: The extension can only be granted in one 17-month period; the extension cannot be "split" into 2 periods.

Previous OPT / degrees: An OPT extension must be based on a currently authorized period of OPT after completion of a Bachelor's, Master's, or PhD in one of the designated STEM fields. Non-STEM fields are not eligible for the extension. Previous degrees in STEM areas are also not eligible.

Unemployment: Students granted a 17-month OPT extension may not accrue more than 120 days of unemployment during the total 29-month OPT period (initial OPT + extension of OPT).

Change of Employer: Students may change employers after being approved for a 17 month extension. Change of employer is not advised while the extension application is pending as the I-765 lists a specific employer.

Multiple Employers: After applying for an extension, students may NOT be concurrently employed with a non-E-Verify employer. While on a 17-month extension, students are only allowed to be employed by employers who are registered with E-Verify.

17 MONTH EXTENSION OF OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING Application Procedures

Application Filing Period: Applications must be received by the USCIS office which has jurisdiction over your state of current residence BEFORE your initial 12 month OPT EAD expires.

Employment Dates: The authorized employment for the 17-month extension will begin on the day after the expiration of the 12-month initial OPT EAD and will end 17 months later regardless of the date the extension is approved. If the I-765 is properly filed before the current OPT EAD expires, the student's employment authorization is considered automatically extended for up to 180 days while the EAD application is pending.

TO APPLY SUBMIT THE FOLLOWING:

Verification of Degree Completion: Obtain evidence confirming completion of a Bachelor's, Master's or PhD in an approved STEM field. Qualifying evidence includes at least one of the following:

  • Official University Transcripts with degree posted
  • Unofficial University Transcript with degree posted
  • Photocopy of diploma (if program of study / degree level are clearly stated).

Employer Information: Original "Employer's Agreement Contract" completed by your current Supervisor. Your employer should retain a copy of this document for their records.

Employer Statement: As employment must directly relate to the STEM field, a statement (on company letterhead) from the employer regarding how the employment relates to the STEM field may help in the adjudication of the extension.

Photos: Have two US Passport Style Photos taken (see attached description for photo measurements). List your name and I-94 number on the back of both photos.

Signature Card: Sign the USCIS Form I-765 Signature Card in black ink. The signature should be within the rectangular signature block.

I-765: Complete the USCIS Form I-765 items 1-17

  • Item 16: ( c ) ( 3 ) ( C )
  • Item 17: Degree: List the major as it appears on the SEVIS I-20 (page 1, item 5) not the one used by the university (if different).

FEE: Prepare a check payable to "Department of Homeland Security". Fee $340.00

IMMIGRATION DOCUMENTS: Bring the following documents with you. We will make photocopies to submit with your application.

  • OPT EAD authorized for 12 months of initial
  • OPT I-94 Departure Record
  • I-20 issued for the initial 12 months of OPT
  • Your valid passport.
  • Your US visa

MAIL: Your advisor at the International Programs and Global Engagement will prepare a new SEVIS I-20 for the 17-month OPT, make the necessary written USCIS recommendations, sign and copy all appropriate forms, and return a packet for you to mail directly to the USCIS Service Center.

REMINDER: Applications should be mailed to the USCIS Center which has jurisdiction for the state of current residence (which is not necessarily the USCIS Center which processed the initial 12 month OPT).

If living in California then, mail the application packet to:

USCIS California Service Center
P.O. Box 10765
Laguna Niguel , CA 92607-1076

17 MONTH EXTENSION OF OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING Student Responsibilities and Reporting Requirements

During the 17 month extension of OPT, students must meet the following reporting requirements:

OPT Card: Mail or fax a copy of the extended Employment Authorization Document to IPGE upon receipt - Fax no. (916) 278-7471.

Address Change: Inform IPGE of all changes of address within 10 days of moving.

Email Address: Please keep IPGE informed of your preferred email address.

Employment Information: OPT regulations state that maintenance of F-1 OPT status is dependent on employment. It is important that you report the following information with us so that we may make the required updates to your SEVIS record in a timely manner.

  • Inform IPGE of your employer name and address within 10 days of hire.
  • Inform IPGE if you terminate your employment within 10 days of termination.
  • Inform IPGE of new employer name and address within 10 days of resuming employment.
  • During your 12 months of initial OPT you may not be unemployed for more than a total of 90 days without jeopardizing your status. During the extension of OPT, an additional 30 days of unemployment is allow for a total of no more than 120 days total (initial + extension).

Name Change: Inform the IPGE if any official change to your name occurs. You will need to first update your passport before changes to your immigration documents can be processed.

Change of Immigration Status:< If your status changes to another visa type / permanent residency, please inform the IPGE so we may make any necessary updates.

Permanent Departure from the US: Inform the IPGE if you plan to return to your home country and cease your OPT.

VALIDATION REPORTING: In addition to the above requirements, students are also required to make a "validation report" to the IPGE every 6 months.The 6 month period begins from the date the 17 month extension starts and ends when the 17 month extension ends - or when the student changes educational levels at the same school, the student transfers to another school, whichever is first. The validation is a confirmation that the student's name and address, employer name and address, and/or loss of employment is current and accurate. The report is due to the DSO within 10 business days of each reporting date.

First Report due: _____________________________________________

Second Report due: ___________________________________________

I understand my reporting responsibilities during my 17 months extension of Optional Practical training.

Printed Name: ______________________________________________________________________________

Signature: _____________________________________________ Date Signed: ________________________

We recommended that you keep this document in a visible location.

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