OPT STEM EXTENSION AND CAP-GAP
STEM (Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Extension
Students nearing the end of the OPT may be able to apply for the so-called STEM extension for 24 months (beginning May 10, 2016), provided they meet the degree and employment conditions. Students with a degree (primary major) in a designated STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) field as defined by USCIS (check the USCIS website for an up-to-date list) AND who are employed by an E-Verify employer are eligible. This is a one-time benefit: you may not apply if you had a previous STEM extension and may not receive a second STEM extension in the future. The job must be related to your STEM major and your current OPT authorization must also be in that major.
We will have to deal with both situations as we go forward this year (2016), but please see the SEVP website STEM OPT transition plan for further information and instructions.
Complete the Extension Request Form. This form is valid for 17 or 24 month extensions.
From the USCIS website, download and complete form I-765 indicating (c)(3)(c) and entering your STEM major and E-Verify employer information at number 17.
Fax or mail the request form and a copy of the completed I-765 to the International Student Office (315-859-4077).
When you receive your I20 with authorization for the STEM application, you MUST apply so that USCIS RECEIVES the completed application within 30 days of the signature on page 3 of the I20.
Be sure to include all requested materials, including (but not necessarily limited to) the I-765; authorizaton I-20; the fee; and a copy of your diploma or official transcript showing the STEM major.
If your application is timely and properly filed (within 30 days and prior to the end of your OPT) your OPT will be automatically extended for up to 180 days after the completion date if your application is still pending.
In addition, students caught in the so-called H1-B cap gap may also now automatically extend their OPT if their H1-B application is approved. Consult the international student office regarding procedures for the cap-gap coverage. You may also find information regarding H1B visa's for 2016 at the USCIS H1B visa site. Current students should carefully read the H1B certification policy.
POST-COMPLETION OPT RESPONSIBILITIES
Post-completion OPT is now also dependent on employment. Students must report periods of unemployment to Hamilton College, and a student on 12 month OPT may not accrue more than 90 aggregate days of unemployment. Students on a 17 month STEM extension may not accrue more than 120 aggregate days of unemployment in the 29 month period. You must report periods of unemployment to the college by email (email@example.com), mail, or fax 315-859-4077.
You are also responsible for informing the College of any of the following:
- Change of name
- Change of address (residential or mailing)
- Change of employer
- Change of employer contact information
- Termination of employment