17-Month OPT Extension

Eligibility

  • No previous 17-month extension on any educational level
  • Currently on initial OPT
  • Within 120 days prior to the OPT expiration date
  • Graduated with a degree from one of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) programs designated by Homeland Security
  • Employed by employer registered with federal E-Verify system
  • Employed in a position related to the STEM degree

View the presentation slides for more information about the 17-Month OPT Extension application process and detailed instructions for filling out the request forms.

E-Verify

E-Verify is a federal, online employment authorization system. To access the system employers register and commit to verify the authorization of all newly hired employees. For more information, check the E-Verify page at the USCIS website.

As of June 2011, UT Dallas is a registered E-Verify employer.

Eligible Degrees

Not all STEM graduates are eligible for the 17-month extension. The U.S Department of Homeland Security (DHS) limits this benefit to selected programs. To be eligible the major on your most recent Form I-20 must match one of the programs listed below. The U.S. Department of Education Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code can be found on the top of page three.

UT Dallas I-20 Majors on the STEM Designated Degree Program List

Major Listed on I-20

CIP Code

Digital Communication and Media/Multimedia

9.0702

Computer and Information Sciences, General

11.0101

Information Science/Studies

11.0401

Biomedical/Medical Engineering

14.0501

Computer Engineering, General

14.0901

Computer Software Engineering (NEW)

14.0903

Electrical, Electronics and Communications Engineering

14.1001

Telecommunications Engineering

14.1004

Materials Engineering

14.1801

Mechanical Engineering

14.1901

Systems Engineering

14.2701

Industrial Engineering

14.3501

Biology/Biological Sciences, General

26.0101

Biomedical Sciences, General

26.0102

Biochemistry

26.0202

Molecular Biology

26.0204

Cell/Cellular and Molecular Biology (NEW)

26.0406

Microbiology, General (NEW)

26.0502

Neurobiology and Neurophysiology (NEW)

26.0906

Bioinformatics (NEW)

26.1103

Biotechnology

26.1201

Neuroscience

26.1501

Mathematics, General

27.0101

Applied Mathematics

27.0301

Statistics, General

27.0501

Biological and Physical Sciences

30.0101

Cognitive Science

30.2501

Chemistry, General

40.0501

Geology/Earth Science, General

40.0601

Physics, General

40.0801

Developmental and Child Psychology

42.2703

Experimental Psychology

42.2704

Geographic Information Science and Cartography

45.0702

Actuarial Science

52.1304

Application Process

Applying for an OPT extension is similar to applying for OPT; you pay the $100 Practical Training Fee, submit an application to the UT Dallas ISSO, a new I-20 is generated and you mail a copy of that I-20 with other documents to a USCIS Service Center.

  • USCIS must receive your application before your OPT authorization expires.
  • The earliest date you can apply is 120 days prior to the OPT expiration date.
  • Like OPT, you can expect USCIS to require 2-3 months to process your request.
  • Your OPT authorization will extend up to 180 days past the OPT expiration date while the extension application is pending. However, during that time you must meet the job requirements of the extension, such as working for an E-Verify employer.
  • If approved, an OPT extension EAD will be mailed to the address listed on the submitted I-765 showing an additional 17 months of OPT.

To obtain a UT Dallas OPT Extension I-20:

  • Pay the $100 Practical Training Fee
  • Submit to the International Student Services Office (ISSO):
  • Processing time is three business days. The ISSO will send you an email when the OPT Extension I-20 is ready for pickup. Mailing instructions will be supplied with the I-20. If you are outside the Dallas area, the items can be mailed to you.

Application Package

  • G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance (Optional) Provided by ISSO
  • Two passport photos
  • Check for $380, made payable to Department of Homeland Security (Print I-94 number at top. Staple your check in the middle; keep the photos at the left hand top corner.)
  • Original I-765
  • Copy of OPT Extension I-20, pages 1 and 3
  • Copy of passport ID page showing picture and expiration date
  • Copy of I-94, front and back
  • Copy of visa showing expiry date (F-1)
  • Copy of current EAD
  • Copy of your diploma or UT Dallas transcript showing degree conferred
  • Copy of your job offer letter

Mailing the Application

According to the USCIS website, the application mailing address is determined by the address listed on the I-765.

Mail to the Dallas Lockbox if your I-765 address is to one of these states: Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, U.S Virgin Islands or West Virginia.

Mail to the Phoenix Lockbox if your I-765 address is to any other U.S. state.

Dallas Lockbox
U.S. Post Office - USCIS
P.O. Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

Courier deliveries - USCIS
Attn: AOS
2501 S. State Hwy 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

Phoenix Lockbox
U.S Post Office - USCIS
P.O Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036

Courier deliveries - USCIS
Attn: AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

Limits on Unemployment

To maintain F-1 visa status, students on the 17-month extension must not exceed a total of 120 days of unemployment, counting from the beginning of the initial OPT period.

Reporting Requirements

Students on the 17-month extension have more reporting requirements than other OPT students.

  • All changes in employment and all periods of unemployment
  • Two additional reports
    • Validation of employment at 6 months after the start of the extension
    • Validation of employment at 12 months after the start of the extension

Homeland Security has indicated that OPT students who do not fulfill the validation report requirements may lose their F-1 status.

EXAMPLE: STEM Extension

5/1/2012 - 9/30/2013

Validation Due Dates

  • 6 months after start date – 11/1/2012
  • 12 months after start date – 5/1/2013

Submission Window (15 days before to 31 after)

  • 6 months - between 10/16/2012 and 12/2/2012
  • 12 months - between 4/16/2013 and 6/2/2013

How to Report

  • After any change of name, address, starting employment or ending employment, submit an OPT Reporting Form to the ISSO.
  • During the following reporting periods, submit a STEM Validation Report Form to the ISSO:
    • Six months after the extension start date - You may submit the report up to 15 days before the 6-month date and as late as 31 days after the 6-month date.
    • 12 months after the extension start date - You may submit the report up to 15 days before the 12-month date and as late as 31 days after the 12-month date.
  • It is vital that you submit the correct forms at the correct times to meet the reporting requirements. Submit all reports to the ISSO via scan/email to ISSOCurrent@utdallas.edu, fax, mail or in person.
  • You will be sent an email when the report has been processed within three business days.

NOTE: Changes of address reported on the OPT Reporting Form affect only the SEVIS immigration system. To update your address in the student information system (Orion) do so through Galaxy (current students) or the Registrar's Office (alumni).

For more information about the post-completion OPT extension, contact an international student advisor.

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