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DHS Launches STEM OPT Hub for Students, DSOs, Employers

The Department of Homeland Security launched the STEM OPT Hub on its Study in the States website, providing resources for the enhanced STEM OPT program.

WASHINGTON– On Friday, March 11 the Department of Homeland Security published the new and enhanced STEM OPT program for final public inspection and launched the new STEM OPT Hub to help students, university administrators, and employers understand the enhanced program.

DHS announced the enhanced program will officially go into effect on Tuesday, May 10. The new STEM OPT Hub provides resources to answer questions and provide resources for transition to the enhanced program.

OPT is a program that allows international students to work in the U.S. after graduation. OPT lasts for 12 months, however, those who are in a STEM field (science, technology, engineering, math) will be able to apply for a 24 month extension after May 10, working for a total of 36 months (three years). Previously, the extension was 17 months.

Transitioning to the new STEM OPT Program, Some Quick Important Information 

  • The 17-month extension rule will stay in effect through May 9, 2016.
  • If you apply for an extension anytime now until May 10, it will be treated as a 17-month extension. Only applications received after May 10 will be considered for 24-month extensions.
  • If you’re currently on a 17-month extension that was issued on or before May 9, 2016, you may be able to apply for an additional seven months of OPT allowing you to benefit from the new 24-month extension. You must meet the following requirements:
    • Have 150 calendar days left on your EAD
    • Apply between May 10-August 8, 2016
    • Fulfill the 24-month STEM OPT extension requirements

For all the details on the new STEM OPT rule, below are helpful links for students:

Homepage: STEM OPT Hub Students with 17-Month STEM OPT Applications Pending on May 10, 2016 Students with Existing 17-Month STEM OPT EADs on May 10, 2016 Students: Determining STEM OPT Extension Eligibility Students: STEM OPT Reporting Requirements STEM OPT Frequently Asked Questions

The new STEM OPT rule also includes other enhancements as well, including more responsibilities for employers and designated school officials (DSOs) to make sure international students receive quality experiences while working on OPT.

The enhanced STEM OPT rule is still under public inspection, but it is set to start on May 10. It has been a long journey to get to this point. From October 19-November 18, 2015 the public could share thoughts and opinions about the enhanced STEM OPT program. DHS received 50,500 comments, the most in DHS history.

Read some of the comments here


If you have questions, please call 703-603-3400 or email and include STEM OPT in the subject line. Offices are open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.(ET). You can also contact your DSO and/or immigration advisor at your university/college.


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