Frequently Asked Questions - STEM

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The term often refers to the Designated Degree program requiring a degree in one of these fields of study. STEM programs, in recognition of their importance to US interests, are awarded special consideration in certain areas under US immigration laws.

F-1 OPT Requirements
1. How do I apply for F-1 OPT? 2. How do I get a 17-month STEM extension of my post-completion OPT?

1. Once you receive a recommendation for post-completion OPT from your Designated School Official (DSO) to pursue OPT, you must apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) with USCIS within 30 days. Additionally, you may file up to 90 days prior to your program end-date and not later than 60 days after your program end date. 

OPT to H-1B
I am currently on my Post-completion OPT. I was recently hired as an IT by a company which agreed to sponsor my H-1B. My OPT expires on January 2013. I've done my Associate Degree in Computer Science. Also, I have BS in Computer Science but from foreign country. Seven year experience in IT.I had my BS evaluated recently. It is equivalent to US Bachelors Degree in Computer Science Computer Technology. Q1: I will have a gap of 3 months before April 1. How to maintain my status? Q2: I am under STEM not with my US AAS but with my foreign BS degree. Can I extend my OPT with my evaluated diploma?

A1. You can consider going back to school or B-1/B-2 status. There is information on our blog on B-1/B-2 to maintain status.

Status of Off-site Placed STEM OPT Extension Students
USCIS now interprets the 24-month STEM OPT extension rule from 2016 to require a STEM OPT worker to be placed only at a worksite of the employer. In other words, the USCIS now says that any offsite placement, including at a third-party worksite, is prohibited. Will this affect the H1B petitions filed by employers for such opt students, where they are working at an end client location (not employer location) and the H1B petition was filed with end client details.
STEM OPT Extension for Consulting or Staffing companies
Can I apply for STEM OPT, if I work for a E-Verified staffing agency (similar to Aerotek, Kelly services) on contract basis that is related to my STEM field of education at a client location ?. (I along with staffing agency will fill out I983 form) I read online that USCIS has regulated "Certain Types of Employment" for STEM OPT in this new rule. So am worried that working for a staffing company at a client company location is therefore invalid :/ ((If so, I think then all the staffing companies would suffer as well)) I have attached hereby the snippet from Federal Register: """"""There are several aspects of the STEM OPT extension that do not make it apt for certain types of arrangements, including multiple employer arrangements, sole proprietorships, employment through “temp” agencies, employment through consulting firm arrangements that provide labor for hire, and other relationships that do not constitute a bona fide employer-employee relationship. One concern arises from the difficulty individuals employed through such arrangements would face in complying with, among other things, the training plan requirements of this rule. Another concern is the potential for visa fraud arising from such arrangements. Furthermore, evaluating the merits of such arrangements would be difficult and create additional burdens for DSOs. Accordingly, DHS clarifies that students cannot qualify for STEM OPT extensions unless they will be bona fide employees of the employer signing the Training Plan, and the employer that signs the Training Plan must be the same entity that employs the student and provides the practical training experience. DHS recognizes that this outcome is a departure from SEVP's April 23, 2010 Policy Guidance (1004-03).""""" It would be really helpful if you could explain what the above paragraph means.