International Student Services

17-Month OPT Extension

The ISSO has received inquiries regarding the news on August 12, 2015 that the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the 17-Month STEM OPT extension will be vacated (eliminated), effective as of February 12, 2016.

  • Read the court’s August 12, 2015 opinion(PDF)
  • Read the court’s August 12, 2015 order(PDF)

Please note the following information available to date concerning this court decision:

  • There are still currently no changes for students pending or approved for this extension of employment authorization. Students who are eligible for the benefit may continue to apply for it.  We have not observed any changes in approval/denials, nor any changes in the length of time that students are being granted for this benefit.
  • As of 10/2/2015 DHS has begun the process of proposing a new STEM OPT rule. The details of the new rule has not yet been published for the general public and are not in effect.
  • The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has not provided any detailed response regarding the court ruling and how it affects current STEM OPT employment authorization.
  • There may be a gap between the February 12, 2016 expiration date, and the date that new rules go into effect. DHS is seeking to obtain an extension from the District Court judge to allow additional time to enact new rules.

The ISSO will be watching for developments concerning the STEM OPT Extension, including any announcements from DHS. In the meantime, F-1 alumni may continue to file, if eligible, for the 17-Month STEM OPT Extension.

The ISSO also recommends that F-1 alumni currently working under STEM OPT employment to be in contact with their employer and/or an immigration attorney to talk about other employment options in the event that STEM OPT employment authorization is eliminated in February 2016.

Please feel free to contact the ISSO to speak with an advisor if you have any questions.


  • 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

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 designated programs.

Application Process

Applying for an OPT extension is similar to applying for OPT.

  1. Carefully review the information about the 17 Month Extension
  2. Pay the $100 Practical Training Fee *
  3. Submit to the International Student Services Office (ISSO):
  4. Within three business days you will be sent an email that the OPT I-20 is ready for pickup. You will be given mailing instructions when you pick up the I-20.
  5. Compile the application, make a copy for your personal file and mail the application to USCIS. USCIS must receive your application before your period of initial OPT ends.
  6. USCIS will provide a receipt a few weeks after your submission. Check it for errors!
  7. 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.
  8. If approved, an OPT extension Employment Authorization Document (EAD) will be mailed to the address listed on the submitted I-765 showing an additional 17 months of OPT.

*Due to the additional Practical Training requirements instituted by Homeland Security on April 8, 2008, UT Dallas students are required to pay a $100 Practical Training fee. This fee is separate from the USCIS application fee.