Texas Tech University

Immigration Alerts

New STEM OPT Regulations!

As you probably know, the new STEM OPT regulations were recently published. The key change in the new regulation is that the STEM OPT period is now 24 months instead of 17 months. There will also be additional responsibilities for your employer with these changes (I-983 training plan, link below). This DHS website has a comprehensive overview of the changes stem-opt hub.

And information on the I-983 training plan can be found form i-983 overview.

A transition to the 24 month STEM OPT will affect everyone differently and dependent on your individual situation. Please read the information below very carefully:

If you are currently on STEM OPT

If you are currently on a STEM OPT extension, you will be able to apply for a 7 month extension* (making your STEM OPT a total of 24 months) during the period from May 10th to August 8th. You will have to submit a new I-765 (including the fee) and a new I-20. Your will also have to fill out an I-983 training plan with help form your employer (see above) which you will need to provide to our office.

*However, there is one exception - You will need 150 days remaining on your EAD card (as of the time of filing the application with USCIS) to be eligible for this extension. If you will not have 150 days remaining on your EAD card, you are not eligible for the extra 7 months (Remember, the period to apply for this extension is from 5/10 to 8/8).

If you have a STEM OPT application pending

If you have recently applied for the STEM OPT extension and the application is still pending as of 5/10 you should receive a Request For Evidence (RFE) from the USCIS office requesting a new I-20 with the 24 month STEM OPT dates on it. Please email a scanned copy of the RFE along with the I-983 training plan to your TTU ISSS counselor and we will begin processing your new I-20.

If your 12-month OPT is ending soon and need to apply for the extension

You have two options: you can go ahead and apply now or you can wait until 5/10. If you apply now, you will receive an RFE (as detailed above in the "STEM OPT application pending" section) for the 24 month STEM OPT I-20. Or you can just wait until after 5/10 to apply when the new 24-month STEM OPT I-20's will be ready. If you do wait, you will have to apply based on the new regulations so an I-983 training form will be required. Our suggestion is that you simply wait until after 5/10, if you can. The last day we will process STEM OPT I-20's under the current regulations is 4/29. Any applications we receive after that will have to wait until 5/10 when the new regulations are in place.

If you have an H-1B application pending it might be wise to wait to see if that gets approved or not so you can save yourself the trouble of another OPT application. But don't forget the deadlines mentioned above.

If you have any questions please see the links above before you contact us. You might also want to have your employer look it over (especially the Employers section). USCIS did a great job explaining the new rules. If you are still unclear about something feel free to contact your TTU ISSS counselor.