F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Effective Feb 12, 2016, students completing their degrees in May 2016 and beyond who request post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) from Berkeley International Office must pay a $75 Post-Completion Services Fee to cover advising and support services provided during the 12-month period (or any part thereof) of OPT. STEM Extensions will incur an additional fee at the time of application. Based on F-1 student regulations, the earliest date that students can submit OPT I-20 Request Forms for programs of study ending this Spring semester is February 12th.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is work authorization available to F-1 international students who have been full time students for at least two consecutive semesters and who plan to seek employment in the U.S. in their fields of study.

Extensions of OPT

H-1B Visa and Cap Gap Extensions

A cap-gap extension extends an eligible F-1 student's status between the end of F-1 status while on OPT and start of H-1B status. This allows the student to remain in the U.S. during the "gap."

17-Month STEM Extensions

Students who have received a U.S. Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degrees in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields, are eligible for a one-time, 17-month extension of post-completion OPT (for a total eligibility of up to 29 months).

Berkeley International Office is aware of the ongoing WashTech Lawsuit August 12, 2015 OPT STEM Extension Summary Judgement ruling which would potentially vacate the STEM extension and is following the situation closely as more information becomes available. BIO is continuing OPT STEM Extension processing as usual until further notice. For background information on the lawsuit and possible impact see the NAFSA: Association of International Educators Focus on STEM summary.

UPDATE 10/19/2015: On Oct 19, 2015 DHS (Dept. of Homeland Security) published a new proposed STEM OPT rule . The public had 30 days to comment on the proposed rule. The new rule can only become effective after analysis of public comment and later publication of a final rule, which may include substantive alternations or changes. We hope that a final rule will be published and go into effect prior to the vacateur deadline, but students should discuss future employment plans carefully with their employers and legal counsel. NAFSA: Association of International Educators offers a good summary of the proposed rule and current updates here: http://www.nafsa.org/stemoptrule .

UPDATE 01/23/2016: On January 23, 2016 the District Court ordered to extend the vacateur of the OPT STEM rule from Feb 12, 2016 to May 10, 2016. The extension of the vacateur will allow DHS time to review comments, publish an updated final STEM rule, and provide guidance and training to stakeholders.

We will keep our clients up-to-date regarding the impact of the WashTech ruling and new DHS STEM OPT proposed rule via the BIO website and/or email notifications. F-1 students on OPT are reminded to update their email addresses online through the Berkeley International Office's Student SEVIS Update (SSU) form.