F-1 OPT I-765 RFE Issue: How a DSO can change students’ 17 month OPT extensions to 24 months

The Department of Homeland Security’s website notes that subsequent to USCIS changes to STEM optional practical training (OPT) regulations, the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) Release 6.26 was deployed which, while not providing a fix addressing all of USCIS’ changes, will help solve some issues presented by the new regulations, including document generation for F-1 OPT students who have applied for an EAD/I-765 so they may respond to USCIS’ requests for evidence.  The update also:

…will update the functionality that allows designated school officials (DSOs) to recommend STEM extensions for eligible students. SEVIS Release 6.26 will implement the following modifications:

  • Change the length of STEM OPT from 17 months to 24 months.
  • Display the link to recommend a STEM extension for anyone on post-completion OPT, making it possible to recommend STEM OPT based on a prior degree.
  • Allow DSOs to convert 17-month STEM recommendations to 24-month recommendations. This will be based on a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) request for evidence (RFE) if the OPT request is in Requested or Pendingstatus in SEVIS. DSOs will access this function from the same page where STEM extensions are recommended.
  • Allow DSOs to recommend seven-month extensions of already approved 17-month STEM extensions for eligible students. DSOs will access this function from the same page where STEM extensions are recommended.

SEVIS Release 6.26 will not include separate fields to capture information about prior degrees or a DSO’s receipt of a student’s Form I-983, “Training Plan for STEM OPT Students.” The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) has worked with USCIS to coordinate handling of transition cases. The chart below presents three distinct situations that apply to students affected by the rule and outlines the actions DSOs and students should take.

Student Scenario Required Actions
New 24-month STEM OPT requests
  • DSOs will be able to use the current functionality to recommend extensions of OPT. SEVIS will automatically calculate the 24-month OPT end date.
  • For cases where the filing deadline is close to May 10, 2016, DSOs can file the STEM extension under the existing 17‑month rules. USCIS will send RFEs for STEM extensions that are pending on May 10, 2016. DSOs will be able to convert the case after USCIS issues the RFE.
  • DSOs must enter the following information into the “Explain how employment is related to student’s course of study” field:
    I have reviewed the Form I-983. It is completed, signed, and addresses all program requirements.
  • If the recommendation is based on a prior degree, DSOs must enter the following information into the “Explain how employment is related to student’s course of study” field:
    Extension based on prior STEM degree: (Enter information on: qualifying major, qualifying degree level, Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) code, date of degree, school awarding degree, school location, awarding school code and class of admission at time of degree.)

Note: New applications received by USCIS on May 10, 2016, must meet the new requirements.

Special instructions for students who are eligible for a STEM extension based on a PRIOR degree whose current post-completion OPT ends before May 23, 2016:

  • Students should file the Form I-765 with USCIS without the Form I-20, but include a statement that indicates:

Due to new regulations, I must apply for the 24-month STEM extension of my OPT before SEVIS supports it. I am eligible based on a prior degree. I will provide a Form I-20 with the extension recommendation after USCIS requests it.

Note: These applications cannot arrive at USCIS before May 10, 2016.
Students should wait to send the Form I-20 to USCIS until after USCIS requests it.

17-month STEM extensions pending on May 10, 2016
  • USCIS will issue an RFE asking for a Form I-20, “Certificate for Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status,” with the 24 month STEM recommendation.
  • After receiving the RFE, the DSO should convert the OPT recommendation from a 17-month to a 24-month STEM recommendation using the functionality in the SEVIS Release 6.26 deployed on May 13, 2016.
  • DSOs must enter the following information into the “Explain how employment is related to student’s course of study” field:
  • I have reviewed the Form I-983. It is completed, signed, and addresses all program requirements.

Note: A completed Form I-983 and a USCIS-issued RFE are required before converting the recommendation from a 17-month OPT extension to a 24-month OPT extension.

17-month extensions of OPT approved before
May 10, 2016
  • The filing period is May 10, 2016, through Aug. 8, 2016. Some students do not have the full application period. Students must have at least 150 days of approved STEM OPT left on the day that USCIS receives their Form I-765, “Application for Employment Authorization.” Once the functionality is available, DSOs must recommend the seven month extension in SEVIS.
  • DSOs must enter the following information into the “Explain how employment is related to student’s course of study” field:
    I have reviewed the Form I-983. It is completed, signed, and addresses all program requirements.

Special instructions for students whose filing deadline for the seven-month STEM extension is before May 23, 2016:

  • Students should file the Form I-765 with USCIS without the Form I-20, but include a statement that indicates the following:
    Due to new regulations, I must apply for the seven-month extension of my STEM OPT before SEVIS supports it. I will provide a Form I 20 with the extension recommendation after USCIS requests it.

Note: These applications cannot arrive at USCIS before May 10, 2016.

  • Students should wait to send the Form I-20 to USCIS until after USCIS requests it.

Over the coming months, SEVP will develop the functionality needed to fully implement the new regulations.

Convert Requested or Pending 17-month STEM OPT Recommendation

Before converting a 17-month extension of STEM OPT that is in Requested or Pending status, a DSO must receive a completed Form I-983 from the student.

Students with requested or pending 17-month STEM OPT are required to complete the Form I-983.

To convert the recommendation from a 17-month extension to a 24-month extension:
1. Navigate to the Student Information page.
2. Click OPT Request under the Employment/Training section of the Actions menu. TheOPT Employment page opens.

3. Click the RFE button. The OPT STEM Extension RFE window opens.

Note: The RFE button displays only if the STEM extension is in Requested or Pending status as of May 13, 2016.

OPT STEM Extension RFE attestation window.)

4. Click either Cancel or Submit:

  • Cancel: Returns the user to the OPT Employment page without converting the recommendation.
  • Submit: Converts the recommendation and returns the user to the OPT Employment page.

OPT Employment page after conversion of the STEM OPT request, which displays the Successful Submission message and the DSO Recommended End Date reflects the 24-month period for STEM

5. Click Print I-20.

Converted STEM OPT Request, as printed on the Form I-20

Note:

  • STEM OPT End Date changes in the Form I-20’s Employment Information section.
  • SEVIS Event History displays the DSO’s attestation.

Recommend Seven-Month Extension of Approved STEM OPT

Students must submit a completed Form I-983 Training Plan for STEM OPT Students to the DSO before the DSO can recommend the STEM OPT extension in SEVIS. Students must submit a new Form I-983 for every new employment training experience they accept during their STEM OPT Extension.

For more information and a tutorial on completing the Form I-983, see theSTEM OPT Hub on Study in the States.

Demonstration: Recommend 24-Month STEM OPT

Before recommending the seven-month extension of STEM OPT, a DSO must receive a completed Form I-983 from the student.

Students on approved 17-month STEM OPT are not required to apply for the seven-month extension. They can choose to complete the rest of their approved STEM OPT under the STEM OPT rules in effect prior to May 10, 2016.

To recommend the seven-month extension of approved STEM OPT:
1. Navigate to the Student Information page.
2. Click OPT Request under the Employment/Training section of the Actions menu. TheOPT Employment page opens.

OPT Employment page indicating the button to extend STEM OPT. The OPT Actual End Date is called out to remember the date, as it will be needed on the next page

  • SEVIS calculates the Start and End Date for the seven-month extension. The DSO cannot change these dates.
  • SEVIS does not display the OPT Actual Start and End Dates on theExtend OPT Employer page.

3.    Click Extend. The Extend OPT Employer page opens.

4. Enter information about the student’s position:

Field Name What Should Be Entered
*    Explain how employment is related to the student’s course of study
  • DSOs must note in this field they have seen the Form I-983 by entering text, “I have reviewed the Form I-983. It is complete, signed, and addresses all program requirements.”
  • If this STEM extension is based on a prior STEM degree, the DSO will also enter the following information in this field, “Extension based on prior STEM degree:
    • Degree name
    • Degree level
    • Degree CIP code
    • Date degree awarded
    • Name of school that awarded degree
    • Location of school that awarded degree
    • SEVIS code of school awarded degree, if available
    • Class of admission at time of degree”

Note: These remarks do not appear on the Form I-20.

  • This is a required field.
Employer Information
*    Employer Name
  • Enter the business name of the employer.
  • This is a required field.
*    Employer EIN Enter the Employer Identification Number (EIN) for the student’s employer. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issues EINs to employers for tax reasons.
Note: This field is required for STEM OPT, even though Highly Recommended appears to the right of it.
Job Title Enter the student’s job title.
*    Start Date
  • Enter the date the student began or will begin the job.
  • If the student will continue work for the same post-completion-OPT employer, enter the start date for the STEM OPT.

Note: SEVIS will not allow you to enter any date earlier than the start of STEM OPT authorization.

  • This is a required field.
End Date
  • Enter the date the student will stop working for the employer, if known.
  • Leave this field blank, if the end date is not known.

Note: The date entered here will not affect the overall SEVIS-calculated STEM extension end date.

*    Full Time/Part Time By default, this field is pre-populated as full-time. It is not editable.
*    Employer Address
  • Click the Add Employer Address button. The Address modal opens.
  • Enter the employer address following SEVP guidance on entering U.S. addresses.
  • This field validates when Address Doctor is working.
  • Enter the Employer’s site address as shown in Section 5 of the Form I-983.
    • This is a required field.
Supervisor Information
*    Last Name
  • Enter the last name of the student’s supervisor, as shown in Section 5 of the Form I-983.
  • This is a required field for STEM OPT.
*    First Name
  • Enter the first name of the student’s supervisor, as shown in Section 5 of the Form I-983.
  • This is a required field for STEM OPT.
*    Telephone
  • Enter the telephone number for the student’s supervisor, as shown in Section 5 of the Form I-983.
  • This is a required field for STEM OPT
*    Email
  • Enter the email address for the student’s supervisor, as shown in Section 5 of the Form I-983.
  • This is a required field for STEM OPT.

5. Click either Extend OPT Employer or Cancel.

  • Extend OPT Employer: Submits the recommendation. The Update Successful page opens.

  • Click either Return to Employment List or Print I-20.
    • Return to Employment List: Returns the user to the OPT Employment page without generating a Form I-20.
    • Print I-20: Generates a Form I-20. The recommendation for the seven-month STEM extension prints on page two.

  • Cancel: Returns the user to the OPT Employment page without recommending the OPT extension.

Note: The OPT Employment page should display the recommendation.

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