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Summary of New 24 Month STEM OPT Extension Proposed Rule

Many students have been waiting for the STEM OPT Extension rule that was cancelled by a federal court earlier this year. As you know the New OPT Extension rule for STEM graduates was in review with OMB for some time and it was approved by OMB on October 14th.  The actual proposed rule will be formally published to the federal register for comment period on October 19th, 2015. In the meantime, we all can read the PDF version of the proposed rule. Here is a quick summary of what is in the 107 page document. Check out the highlighted screenshots at the end for each of the summary points. We will continue to update the article with subtle points, for now, below are the key items.

Summary  of the Proposed New STEM OPT Extension rule by DHS 2015 

  • 24 Month STEM OPT Extension :  In the original proposed rule, STEM OPT Extension period was given for 17  months, now the proposed rule increased that 17 month OPT Extension period for STEM graduates to 24 months .
  • E-Verify Requirement :  Similar to the original past rule, the 24 month STEM OPT extension is only eligible for students who are employed by an E-Verified employer.
  • Addresses Court Ruling that Vacated the 2008 rule : The new proposed rule also mentions that it addresses the court decision that vacated the original 2008 rule on procedural grounds.
  • Cap – Gap Relief :  The previous cap-gap relief continues to be available in the new rule, similar to previous rule enabling students to automatically extend their F1 status and the employment authorization until October 1st, if they file H1B visa in a timely manner.
  • Accredited Schools :  The STEM OPT Extension will be available only to students with STEM degrees from accredited schools
  • Initiatives to increase the oversight over STEM OPT Extension students by
    • Formal Mentoring and Training plans by employers for students in STEM OPT Extension
    • Wage Protection for students availing this facility
  • Policy Changes to enhance the academic benefit of STEM OPT Extension by
    • Increased oversight and policies to gain practical experience that supplement the theoretical knowledge for better positioning to begin students careers in their area of study.
    • The proposed policy to make US colleges to be globally competitive.
  • 30 Day Comment Period :  All the speculations of 90 days, 60 days are gone. It clearly tells that the comment period would be 30 days.

Did I miss any key points ? Add your thoughts .

Screenshots from the actual Proposed New OPT 24 Month STEM Rule 

New Rule STEM OPT extension 24 months

24 Month STEM OPT Extension rule Summary

24 Months OPT Rule 30 day comment period


Document to be published on Oct 19th

References :


Other Articles


  1. One year of initial OPT after STEM degree should be extendable by atleast 24 months or more for some proper experience to make the studies credible and practical oriented which benefits both the USeconomy and the student. Also, OPT after subsequent higher STEM degrees also be extendable by at least 24 months. This is absolutely necessary to make US studies worthwhile, credible and a win win situation for US economy and international students.


  3. I had applied for 17 month OPT extension, and it was approved and is valid till February 2017. Can anyone please tell me if I can get another 7 month extension (total = 24 months) in case I don’t get H1B visa in 2016?

    See my comments
    WELCOME WHOLE HEARTEDLY this new Rule for OPT Stem Extension for 2 years ALL IN THE US WILL BE EQUALLY BENEFITED. Above every one the country and its benefit.US economy will thrive because of this new rule, because of the skill training. Culture will not get affected.

    Understand that this rule not against Americans and Citizens, who are protected by this updated rule for their employment that no American should be removed from service because of this OPT and their PAY should not be reduced because of this rule as adequate measures taken.Also the new rule restricts that there is no less pay for any of the OPT students

    Understand that there is a clear and well defined difference between ILLEAGAL and LEGAL immigrants/temporary workers to fill the skilled jobs and we should not create confusion about this rule on that basis as this is LEGAL OPT. Please do not deviate from this Legal OPT Concept, by citing irrelevant points of illegal migration/illegal immigration etc.

    Similarly in global community like US there is no such thing as foreigners being hired by employers, as everything is conducted legally in US.

    Already students have started to go to ENGLAND because of the OPT extension is stopped by the court in US and there the education is less expensive for Masters, since it is one year only and lot of employment opportunities.
    America will be the loser for each Masters seat evolving around $125000 per year as college fees. If there are no students for Masters Stem, there will be a loss of $ 31250000000 per year to USA with 250000 proposed foreign students. Total Loss to US Colleges and Universities in 10 year will be
    If the stem extension is not continued around 70000 students have to leave the country by 16 Feb 2016 and their projects/work will be halted, because of no skilled worker is available and it will affect employers/Industry for $70000000000 worth of projects/works/research and other revenues to US for 1 year till 16 Feb 2017
    Most of the students paid University non resident tuition and other fees to US Government at a very high rate and if this opt extension is not there, IT IS A GUARANTEE THAT NO FOREIGN STUDENT WILL COME TO STUDY IN US. They are not ready to study only bookish knowledge which can be got in their countries and through online itself.
    America is survived by the people, skilled workers and big and large business and it is the duty of DHS to protect the US economy and US people by enacting rules/legislation like this. If this is not done by DHS, who will do?
    OPT Students also paid all the university fees without any funding from University or Government or from teaching assistantships, as any other US Citizens and OPT students are not getting any Social Security Benefits and nothing is free in this country to OPT students and Medical trust funds and please note not to deviate the fact that there is $0 for Social Security for OPT students and they are contributing to US economy by paying TAX to Govt.
    H1B applications now is 210000 and the quota for MS Students is 20K and most of the Masters student did not get H1b this year. With scholarships in UK the future students, with 1 year most students will not come to US at all, if you will not imposing the rule for OPT extension
    Increase H1b quota to 500000 per year and Masters quota to 200000 per year is in all fairness as the current lottery system is unfair and the H1B cap does not meet the demand. US is the land of equal opportunities and is poised for greater growth,

    All the current students will go back to their country with the knowledge they gained by their education and US will be losing their talent and skills.

    It is a false statement that more than 86K (jobs per year) of Americans are taken away and not supported by any stats and this proposed extension will ensure that no American jobs are taken away.

    Please note that all the students are not selected for OPT and only STEM students from E-Verify companies are selected. Any opposition from other non stems students should be viewed separately from the rule and should not be studied along with this rule.
    Any degree without any concrete work experience/training is a waste of education.
    First year of OPT students gain very little experience and as proposed in the new rule, if the OPT should be extended for 2 years with guided and well programmed and monitored by employer and University( But with less paper or drudgery work for approval) for the students to get practical training.
    If the rule is not implemented then US will be 20 years back in 5 years, with obsolete technologies/industry practices etc. and economy wild be badly affected. The thought of reducing the number of H1b and other visas should not allowed as it will affect US economy very badly

    Here is the link and do it today


    • Thanks.
      Could you please clarify if they don’t get 100K comments as you mentioned:
      What wil ppen then,this rule wil never be passed? as currently I guess its ust around 5K right?

  5. Hi
    Can you Please elaborate The Meaning of Accredited Schools – ( The STEM OPT Extension will be available only to students with STEM degrees from accredited schools)

    What does it exactly mean?
    Which School comes under this category?

    Please Respond to my Query

    • Navee,
      Usually for-profit schools do not fall under this category. Accredition needs to be provided by one of the leading recognized national agencies in US.

      Here is a good article on this.

  6. The new proposed rule is in a comment period. I think we should all go to the website and comment on it. Here is the link: http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=ICEB-2015-0002
    And maybe we should recommend them to extend the period to a longer time, say 36 months, and simplify the requirement for the “mentoring program”. Can we come up with some valid arguments to support these goals?

  7. I am on stem opt extension which will expire in first week of February 2016. I shall be benefited if this new rule comes up before that.
    But what if DHS feels that it will not be able to meet the deadline and asks for stay on the ruling? In that case what about people who have a hope of getting extra 7 months ( thereby one more H1B chance in April 016) what if stay order is vacated in march and 24months rule comes in march? I shall be on 60days of grace period so Will i be eligible for 7 months extension?

  8. Can u elaborate on Accredited Schools please? So does this mean all STEM grad students not eligible for 24 months extension? Students from schools which were getting 17 month extension earlier, might not get that 24 month this time as they are filtering out schools now? Am I correct in my understanding. Thanks..!!

  9. you should also point this out on your website

    The new rule will allow TWO STEM EXTENSIONS if someone come here for Bachelors.
    1 OPT + 2 years in Bachelors then if he enrolls for Masters then 1 OPT + 2 years extension

    On Page 9 of ruling this is said “The proposal would increase the OPT extension period for STEM OPT students from the 2008 IFR’s 17 months to 24 months. The proposal would also make F-1 students who subsequently enroll in a new academic program and earn another qualifying STEM degree at a higher
    educational level eligible for one additional 24-month STEM OPT extension.”

  10. Under this rule, would another STEM extension be available for those who complete a second higher degree in the US? So I did my Bachelors and already used the 17 months extension. Am I eligible for the 24 months STEM extension after I finish a Master’s degree?

    • I see this

      DHS proposes in this rule to increase the STEM OPT extension period to 24
      months for students meeting the qualifying requirements. This 24-month extension,
      when combined with the 12 months of initial post-completion OPT, would effectively
      allow STEM students up to 36 months of practical training. DHS would also provide, for
      students who subsequently attain another STEM degree at a higher educational level, the
      ability to participate in an additional 24-month extension of any post-completion OPT
      based upon that second STEM degree.44

  11. Found it! It is on page 39 of the document, last paragraphs. The key is to search the document with the keyword “already”. 😀 It says provisions will be made so that people already on 17month extension can file for further extension (just like we did for 1years OPT to STEM). Also, for people who are already have applications pending, they will be given 17month extension, and then they may file for additional extension the way I mentioned it above.


  12. Kumar,

    I am already on the 17 month OPT STEM extension. If the 24 month thing is approved, how will it affect me? Will my time will get automatically extended or do I need to get an additional approval from the USCIS. Does the document talk about that?


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