F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)
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).
OPT STEM EXTENSION UPDATES:
Berkeley International Office is aware of the WashTech Lawsuit August 12, 2015 OPT STEM Extension Summary Judgement ruling and is following the situation closely as more information becomes available. Since the ruling does not go into effect until February 12, 2016, BIO is continuing OPT STEM Extension processing as usual until further notice.
UPDATE 10/19/2015: On Oct 19, 2015 DHS (Dept. of Homeland Security) published a new proposed STEM OPT rule . The public will have 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 Feb 12, 2016 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 .
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 keep their email addresses up-to-date at http://ssu.berkeley.edu.