Canada: USCIS Increases STEM OPT Extension To 24 Months

On March 11, 2016, USCIS published a Final Rule that will enable certain F-1 students who earned a science, technology, engineering, or technology ("STEM") degree to access up to 24 months (previously 17 months) of additional post-completion Optional Practical Training ("OPT"). As outlined below, in exchange for increasing STEM OPT Extension to 24 months USCIS has placed additional requirements on students, an institution's designated school official ("DSO"), and employers to maintain eligibility for this extension. However, this increase in time should prove quite favorable to F-1 students with STEM degrees and their employers.

Optional Practical Training – A Primer

F-1 students who wish to gain professional experience related to their degree program may receive up-to 12 months of OPT work authorization at each successive educational level (undergraduate, graduate, or post-graduate). An F-1 student may engage in OPT pre or post-completion. Pre-completion OPT is subject to limitations when the employment takes place during the scholastic year (vs. during the summer) and every 2 months of pre-completion OPT will reduce the total available post-completion OPT by 1 month. For example, should an F-1 student engage in 4 months of pre-completion OPT, she will only have access to 10 months of post-completion OPT. As such, although the subject of this article is to discuss the extension to post-completion OPT, it is essential to remember that pre-completion OPT will have an effect on initial grant of post-completion OPT. Moreover, during an initial grant of OPT an F-1 student is permitted to be unemployed for up-to 90 days in this period. For information regarding F-1 OPT generally, please visit the USCIS's Website at:

STEM OPT Extension – From 17 to 24 Months

Since 2008, F-1 students who earned a STEM Degree were eligible to apply for a 17-month extension of their post-completion Optional Practical Training ("OPT"), bringing their total available OPT time to 29 months. Under the old rule, which will continue to be in effect through May 9, 2016, the F-1 student's employer is required to be enrolled in E-Verify and the F-1 student is permitted to be unemployed for an additional 30 days (120 total while in OPT).

Thanks to USCIS' Final Rule, beginning on May 10, 2016 such F-1 students will be allowed to apply for up-to 24-months of STEM OPT Extension, meaning their total OPT time will increase to 36 months. This extension will be available to F-1 students with STEM degrees engaged in post-completion OPT, F-1 students with pending 17-month STEM OPT Extension Applications, and F-1 students currently in possession of a 17-month OPT Extension. Moreover, students who previously received a 17-month OPT Extension but whose OPT has expired will also be eligible to apply for this Extension. For example, if an F-1 student received an undergraduate degree in a STEM subject, obtained up to the 17- month STEM OPT Extension, and then went on to earn a graduate degree in a non-STEM subject, he or she would still be eligible to access the additional 7 months of STEM OPT Extension now made available through the Final Rule. As is the case with an initial grant of OPT, an F-1 student may access the 24-month STEM OPT Extension at each level of education, and the F-1 student's employer must be enrolled in E-Verify. Moreover, the additional 7 months of OPT means that the F-1 student will be permitted to be unemployed for an additional 30 days of that time, bringing the total amount of permissible unemployment during OPT to 150 days.

With Greater STEM OPT Comes Greater Responsibility and Benefits

However, with this increased amount of STEM OPT Extension available to F-1 students and their employers come additional responsibilities. Those additional requirements include:

  1. STEM OPT Employers must report material changes to the STEM OPT student's employment to the student's DSO within 5 business days;
  2. STEM OPT Employers must implement a formal training program which contributes to the student's education through real-life experience;
  3. STEM OPT student's must receive a job opportunity that is commensurate with those of similarly situated U.S. workers with regards to duties, hours, and compensation. By extension, and unlike the 17-month STEM OPT Extension, a volunteer/unpaid position cannot support the 24-month STEM OPT Extension;
  4. STEM OPT Employers must fill-out and submit Form I-983, Training Plan for STEM OPT Students. In this form, the STEM OPT Employer must attest to the following facts:
  1. The employer possesses sufficient resources and trained personnel that will be made available to appropriately train the student;
  2. The student will not replace a full- or part-time, temporary or permanent U.S. worker;
  3. Working for the employer will assist the student in attaining his/her training objectives; and
  4. That there exists a valid employer-employee relationship. Please note that although the Final Rule does not explicitly prohibit self-employment for students utilizing the STEM OPT Extension, such employment situations must meet all other requirements and students cannot make employer attestations on their own behalf

For more information on the STEM OPT Extension, please visit USCIS'S STEM OPT Hub at:

Although these additional requirements may create further work to secure a STEM OPT Extension, the extra time made available to F-1 STEM students provides numerous benefits to both F-1 students and their employers. For example, this additional time will give F-1 students with STEM OPT greater flexibility to engage in longer-term research studies and projects. Similarly, extra time in F-1 OPT will afford F-1 student more time to make arrangements for their futures in the United States, including giving such students an additional opportunity to be selected in the H-1B Cap Lottery. Lastly, STEM OPT students will be required to receive a salary that is befitting their specialized skills, which will benefit the F-1 student and ensure he or she is not undermining the U.S. labor market.

Green and Spiegel US, LLC is available to discuss post-graduate options with you, whether you are an F-1 student or an employer.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions