Because the United States is currently experiencing a shortage of highly trained professionals in many of the science, technology, engineering, and math fields, the Code of Federal Regulations allows students completing post-completion Optional Practical Training in those fields to apply for an extension of their OPT of 17 additional months. The period of authorization will begin immediately following the completion of the standard OPT as noted on the current EAD and will end exactly 17 months later.
In order to qualify for the 17-month extension, a student must have a degree in a STEM field and be employed by, or have an offer for employment from, an employer registered with E-Verify.
There are 23 programs of study at Emory that qualify under the government’s definition of STEM fields:
• Applied Epidemiology
• Applied Mathematics
• Behavioral Sciences
• Biological & Biomedical Sciences
• Biomedical Engineering
• Clinical Research
• Computer Science
• Computer Science & Informatics
• Environmental Science
• Global Epidemiology
• Human & Natural Ecology
• Maternal & Child Health Epidemiology
• Mathematics & Computer Science
• Neuroscience & Behavioral Biology
• Physical, Material, & Computational Sciences
• Physics, Applied
• Physics & Astronomy
• Psychology & Linguistics
OPT requires students to work a minimum of 20 hours per week. During the initial 12 months of OPT, a student is limited to a maximum of 90 days of unemployment. If the 17-month extension is granted, unemployment time is limited to 120 days for the entire 29-month period. Students who choose to work for multiple employers during the 17-month extension must ensure that all employers are enrolled in E-Verify.
Students who file the 17-month extension in a timely manner (i.e. prior to the end of the original OPT authorization period) may continue to work while the extension is pending for up to 180 days following expiration of the original Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
Students may apply for the extension up to 120 days before the current period of authorization ends but must apply no later than 15 days before the EAD expires. ISSS encourages students to apply as early as possible within this time frame.
The following items are required for the extension:
1. A completed STEM Extension Request e-form in ISSS Link.
2. A completed Form I-765 with the following endorsements:
•Item #3: leave blank. (We will use our mailing address.)
• Item #16: enter (c)(3)(C)
• Item #17: include major (primary or secondary) as it is on the I-20, the name of the employer and the employer’s E-Verify number.
3. A check (no starter checks) or money order made out to U.S. Department of Homeland Security for $380. In the memo section, write the I-94 number.
4. One-sided photocopies of:
• All previously issued Forms I-20 from Emory and all other institutions attended (pages 1 and 3)
• Passport photo page (and extension page, if applicable)
• F-1 visa stamp (most recent)
• Current and any previous EADs
• Emory diploma issued following completion of degree in STEM field
5. An official transcript reflecting evidence of your program of study in STEM field
6. Two, recent (with 30 days) passport style photos meeting the specifications outlined in the attached packet (Lightly write name and I-94 number lightly in pencil on the back of each photo.)
7. Form G-1145
Mail these items to ISSS or, if in Atlanta, schedule an appointment with an advisor for processing. Once the advisor has reviewed the application, s/he will prepare a new I-20 with the extension endorsement. If applying by mail, we will mail the I-20 to the address on record for the required signature. We will send the document by regular U.S. Postal Service. If express mail is preferred, eShip Global service is available. Once the I-20 has been signed, return a photocopy or scanned copy of pages 1 and 3 and ISSS will include it with the 17-month extension petition.
Students who are approved for the 17-month extension must notify ISSS within 10 days of the following events:
• Change to your legal name and/or nonimmigrant status within ten days: report via email to your international student advisor
• Change in your U.S. address within ten days: report via OPUS
• Change of employer and/or employment address within five days: report via the ISSS website
Students on a 17-month extension must also verify this information every six months even if there is no change to report.
Failure to comply with these requirements throughout the 17-month extension may result in termination of OPT and the SEVIS record.