17-Month F-1 OPT Extension for Students with STEM Degrees

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1 17-Month F-1 OPT Extension for Students with STEM Degrees During the initial period of 12 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT), certain government-designated STEM degree-holders (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in the following fields may be eligible for an additional 17 months of OPT, for a total of 29 months. - Actuarial Science - Medical Scientist - Biological Science - Nutrition Sciences - Biomedical Sciences - Physical Sciences - Computer Science - Statistics - Engineering - Sustainability Studies - Mathematics The degree programs that qualify for a 17-month STEM extension are listed at Note that the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code is printed next to Primary Major under the student name on page 3 of the Columbia University I-20. The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) last updated the comprehensive OPT information and FAQs on April STEM extension information is found under Section 8. Eligibility for 17-month STEM extensions: Must be currently participating in Columbia administered OPT and working for a US employer in a job directly related to the student s major field of study. Successfully completed a bachelor s, master s, or doctoral degree in a field on the STEM CIP Code List. Must have a job or job offer from an employer registered with the E-Verify employment verification system. (E-Verify information is available at Have not previously received a 17-month OPT extension. Agrees to report updated name, address, and place of employment and continuation of employment to ISSO every six months. Obtaining the 17-month STEM extension authorization is a 3-step process: 1. Complete required application documents and submit to ISSO either in person or via to 2. ISSO will review your application and issue you an I-20 with 17-month STEM extension recommendation. 3. Mail a complete 17-month STEM extension application to USCIS. Application Period: The I-765 and supporting documents must be sent to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regional office having jurisdiction over your address of residence. USCIS recommends that you apply 120 days before the end date of your initial period of OPT, although you may apply later. USCIS must receive your application within 30 days of your I-20 issuance date and before your current EAD expires and you must build in time for ISSO processing. How to Apply: Step 1: Submit the documents listed below to as a single PDF file attachment and pay the $200 Trainee Administrative Fee at https://lexington.columbia.edu/isso/trainee. Instructions: Scan your documents into ONE file in PDF format only. Submissions in any other format will not be accepted or reviewed. Do not send individual files (I-765 as one file, EAD, etc.). Do not take photos with your phone and send.jpg or.tiff files. You will receive an automated reply from the ISSO confirming that your was received. DO NOT put your file on GoogleDrive, Dropbox or any other cloud/file sharing site and send a link to your file. We WILL NOT go to the cloud to retrieve your submission.

2 This address is only for document submission. ISSO will not reply to any messages included with your documents or to any other messages sent to this address. Do not send or copy your documents to any other address; they will not be accepted. Required Application Documents a. completed STEM extension application (at the end of these instructions) b. completed I-765 form (Go to c. I-94 from the online I-94 site. d. copy of EAD (front and back) e. Letter from Employer f. $200 STEM extension Trainee Administrative Fee, paid online at https://lexington.columbia.edu/isso/trainee. The fee must be paid before the I-20 with ISSO's recommendation for the STEM extension is released to you. Payment by credit card is preferred but cash will be accepted. Letter from the employer: Stating the following information: Student s Job Title Employer name and address Supervisor's Name and Contact Information Stating an understanding of the following regulation: Employer must agree to report the termination or departure of the student to the ISSO by ing An employer must consider a worker to have departed when the employer knows the student has left employment, or if the student has not reported for work for a period of 5 consecutive business days without the employer's consent. Stating that the employer is registered in the E-Verify program (directly or through a third party) STEP 2: ISSO will recommend the 17-month STEM OPT extension in SEVIS, after verifying a student's eligibility and certifying that the student's degree is on the STEM CIP Code List. ISSO will issue a new I-20 recommending the 17-month STEM OPT extension starting on the day after the expiration of your current EAD and ending 17 months later. The processing time may take up to 10 business days. We will notify you by when your new I-20 is ready. You may pick it up or request regular mail or FedEx delivery (at no extra cost). STEP 3: Mail your STEM OPT Extension Application to USCIS: 1. It is ESSENTIAL that USCIS Service Center receives your application within 30 days of the date that the I-2o with 17-month STEM recommendation is issued and before the end of your current OPT. If it is not received within this time frame, your application will be denied by USCIS, your $380 fee will be not returned or refunded to you 2. Remember to sign and date the new I-20 in BLUE ink only! Your application will be returned due to an unsigned I-20, unsigned check or unsigned I-765 form. 3. Send your application to USCIS by courier service such as FedEx to provide you with proof that your application was submitted in a timely manner. 4. All applications must either be filed at either USCIS Dallas or USCIS Phoenix Lockbox facilities. Students who listed a mailing address on the I-765 with New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, or Pennsylvania must send the application to: U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Courier service (FedEx, UPS) Priority Mail Express USCIS USCIS PO Box Attn: AOS Dallas, TX S. State Hwy. 121 Business Suite 400 Lewisville, TX If you used a mailing address in another state, go to the I-765 site at: to find out where to file your application.

3 Checklist for the Application to USCIS: 1. Form G This form is for USCIS to notify you by and/or text message that they have accepted your application. 2. Completed Form I original - no photocopy Check box for I am applying for: renewal of my permission to accept employment Question 16: Eligibility code is (c)(3)(c) Question 17: List your degree and major as it appears on page 3 of your I-20, and your employer name and number as listed in the government s E-Verify program. This number should be obtained from the Human Resources department of your company. Numbers are usually 5-6 digits in length. 3. Required $380 fee payable to Department of Homeland Security by: personal check, write USCIS I-765 in the memo line of the check, bank check or money order; please note, a money order is more difficult to track than a check 4. Signed photocopies of page 1 and 3 of I-20 recommending the 17-month STEM extension, endorsed by the ISSO on page 3. USCIS MUST receive the application within 30 days of the ISSO s endorsement. Do Not mail the original 17-month STEM extension I Photocopy of your unexpired passport ID page 6. Print your most recent I-94 retrieved from 7. Photocopy of both sides of any previously issued EAD card, including your current EAD card. 8. Two US passport style photos. USCIS requires that the photos meet the specifications for the full frontal/passport type of photos and not be more than 30-days old when the application is filed. Visit the Department of State website for more information on photo standards. Write your name lightly on the back of each picture in pencil. 9. Photocopy of your most recent diploma that shows the degree name and the date awarded. 10. Official or unofficial transcript as evidence of your program of study in a STEM CIP Code field. Receiving your EAD Card: Processing time: USCIS will generally take 2-3 months to process an I-765 application. After you receive the Notice of Action with the 13 digit receipt number, you can check the status of your pending application online on the USCIS web site at https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/dashboard.do Contact the ISSO if your application has been pending for more than 75 days from the date of receipt on the Notice of Action receipt form. USCIS will send all related mail including the receipt notice, approval notice and EAD to the address indicated on the I-765 form. If you change your address during the processing time, there is a way to update USCIS online using the USCIS Change of Address site but we cannot guarantee its efficacy. US government mail will not be forwarded to another address, even if you change it with the US Postal Service. Contact the ISSO if you receive any correspondence, such as a Request for Evidence (RFE), from USCIS about your application. The employment authorization start date of your EAD will be the day after the end date listed on your postcompletion OPT EAD. USCIS must receive your 17-month STEM OPT Extension application before the end date listed on your post-completion OPT EAD. Extension of Work Authorization: Students who file an application on time for the 17-month STEM extension will be able to continue employment while the extension application is pending, until a final decision on the I-765 or for 180 days, whichever comes first. Travel: Although you may continue to work while the 17-Month STEM extension application is pending, you will not be able to return to the US from a trip abroad after the first EAD has expired and before you receive the EAD for the 17- month STEM extension. You will need to have the following to return from a trip abroad: an unexpired passport valid for at least 6 months into the future an unexpired F-1 visa (except Canadians) your STEM I-20 with travel signature given from within the last 6 months STEM EAD card employer letter

4 Validation and Reporting Requirements During STEM Extension: Students pursuing a period of STEM extension OPT must not have more than 120 days of unemployment time during the entire period of post-completion OPT (regular post-completion OPT and STEM extension OPT). Students with an approved 17-month STEM extension must report to the ISSO every six months starting from the date the extension begins and ending when 1. the student's F-1 status ends, 2. the student changes educational levels at the same school, 3. the student transfers to another school, 4. the 17-month OPT extension ends. The report must include: 1. student's full name, 2. current residence address and mailing address if different from residence address, 3. name and address of the current employer, 4. date student began working for the current employer. In addition to the reporting, students on a STEM extension must notify the ISSO within 10 days of: 1. any change of name or residence or mailing address, 2. any change of employer, giving the name and address of the new employer, 3. any change to the name and address of this employer, 4. any interruption of this employment. Use the online form at to submit the validation report and the other changes listed above.

5 For Office Use only Trainee Fee Cash Credit card COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY IN THE CITY OF NEW YORK INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS AND SCHOLARS OFFICE I-94 I-765 Remarks F-1 OPT 17-Month STEM Extension Request Form Family Name: First Name: CU UNI: Date of Birth (mm/dd/yyyy): Passport Expiration Date (mm/dd/yyyy): Visa Expiration Date (mm/dd/yyyy): Preferred Address: Phone Number: Dates on EAD: From (mm/dd/yyyy): To (mm/dd/yyyy): How would you like to receive your I-20 with 17-month STEM extension? (check one): Pickup at ISSO FedEx to Current Address in the US (at no extra cost) FedEx to work (at no extra cost) Regular mail Current address in the US: Street Address City State Zip Name and address of employer: Street Address City State Zip Name and phone number of supervisor: Student s Signature: Date: Office and Courier Address: 524 Riverside Drive New York, NY Mailing Address: Mail Code Broadway New York, NY Tel Fax

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