The Department of Homeland Security published new federal regulations governing Optional Practical Training on April 8, 2008. These regulations allow for a 17-month extension of post-completion Optional Practical Training (for a total period of 29 months) provided that certain conditions are met.
·The applicant must be currently authorized for a 12-month period of post-completion OPT and working for a US employer in a job directly related to the student’s field of study
· Applicants must be currently working in paid employment, volunteer positions are not allowed on 17-month extension of OPT
· The applicant must have successfully completed a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in a field on the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program list, from a SEVIS-certified US college or university (see the “STEM” section below)
· At the time of application for the 17-month extension, the applicant must have a job offer or be employed by an employer registered with the “E-Verify” federal employment verification system. For more information on “E-Verify,” see the “E-Verify” section below. 17-month extension of OPT applicants may work multiple jobs, but all the employers must be enrolled in E-Verify
· The applicant must not have previously received a 17-month extension of OPT after earning a STEM degree
· The applicant must apply for the 17-month extension of OPT through the ISSS at Binghamton University. The ISSS must recommend the extension and issue a new I-20 with the recommendation noted
· The applicant applies for the extension using form I-765 with fee (currently $380.00) to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services Lockbox Facility having jurisdiction over the applicant’s current place of residence
· The applicant must submit the extension application in a timely manner to ensure it is received by USCIS before the current period of OPT expires. USCIS recommends that students file within 90-120 days before the expiration of the current OPT
· An applicant who submits a timely application but whose current EAD card expires while the application is pending may continue employment while the 17-month extension of OPT application is pending until a final decision is made, or for 180 days, whichever comes first
Your most recent degree must be in a field of study that is on the Federal Government’s approved list of STEM Fields.
S = Science
T = Technology
E = Engineering
M = Mathematics
STEM Fields include
· Actuarial Science
· Computer Science Applications
· Engineering Technologies
· Biological and Biomedical Sciences
· Mathematics and Statistics
· Military Technologies
· Physical Sciences
· Science Technologies
· Medical Scientist (MS, PhD)
A detailed list of all STEM fields approved by the federal government is available at:
E-Verify was formerly known as the Basic Pilot/Employment Eligibility Verification Program. E-Verify is an Internet-based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the Social Security Administration. E-Verify allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees.
An F-1 applicant applying for a 17-month extension of OPT can only do so if at the time of filing, the applicant is employed by, or has a job offer with, an E-Verify participating employer. The employer must provide the applicant with the company’s E verify name and company I.D. number, which are required on the I-765 Application for Employment Authorization.
For more information on E-Verify, visit:
Binghamton University is now required by federal regulation to continue to maintain an applicant’s SEVIS record for the full period of Optional Practical Training, including any extension.
The applicant must agree to report the following information to the Office of International Student and Scholar Services within ten days of the change:
· Change of name
· Change of residential or mailing address
· Name and address of employer
· Change in the name or address of employer
· When employment changes or terminatesThe applicant must also agree to fill out the online report found on the ISSS web page every six months to the Office of International Student and Scholar Services to verify the above information.
The employer must agree to report the termination or departure of the applicant to the Office of International Student and Scholar Services, or through any other process chosen by the Department of Homeland Security.
Limits on Unemployment
Applicants granted a 17-month extension of OPT may not accrue an aggregate of more then 120 days of unemployment during the total 29-month OPT period. More than 120 days of unemployment may affect negatively affect eligibility for future US immigration benefits. An applicant may provide documentation for the adjudicator to consider any extenuating circumstances.
Expiry of Current EAD Card While 17-Month Extension of OPT Application Is Pending
Provided that the applicant has submitted a timely and correctly filed application for a 17-Month Extension of OPT to the USCIS Lockbox Facility, if the applicant
has not received notice of the approval of the extension application before the current EAD card’s expiration date, the applicant’s EAD card is extended automatically pursuant to the terms and conditions specified in 8 CFR 274a.12(b)(6)(iv). This means that the expired card will remain valid until USCIS makes a decision on the extension application or for a period not to exceed 180 days.
Travel While 17-Month Extension of OPT Application is Pending and if Current EAD Card Has Expired
A person who has applied for a 17-month extension of OPT, whose current EAD card has expired, cannot travel outside the United States, even if employed, until the new EAD card is received.
Last Updated: 8/23/12