Immigration

Department of Homeland Security Publishes New STEM Regulations

On March 11, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published new regulations for the STEM extension of OPT. The new regulations include significant changes to the STEM extension, including:

  • An increase of the extension from 17 months to 24 months
  • The STEM extension is available to students two times over the course of their academic career in the U.S.
  • Students are eligible to apply for the STEM extension based on a previously awarded degree from an accredited U.S. institution 
  • Form I-983 which includes a certification of adherence to a training plan, completed by the employer
  • Provisions for students currently approved for the 17-month extension to apply for an additional 7 months of OPT authorization

The new regulations will be effective May 10, 2016. International Student Services (ISS) is working diligently to review the new regulations and prepare instructions for how to apply.

Read the new regulation, Improving and Expanding Training Opportunities for F-1 Nonimmigrant Students With STEM Degrees and Cap-Gap Relief for All Eligible F-1 Students, in its entirety at the Federal Register. Additional information and resources are available at the Study in the States: STEM OPT Hub

Recent Updates

Updates

U.S. District Court grants extension DHS extension through May 10, 2016

On January, 23, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was granted an extension through May 10, 2016 to publish the final regulations for the 17-month extension of OPT and Cap-Gap extension. For more information, read the Court's order and memorandum opinion. Eligible F-1 students can continue to apply for, and work on 17-month extension through the May 10th deadline.  
 

DHS publishes proposed changes to the 17-month (STEM) extension of OPT and Cap-Gap 

On October 19, 2015 the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published proposed changes to the 17-month extension of OPT and Cap-Gap extension.  These changes come in response to a U.S. District Court ruling invalidating the existing regulations.  The court found that DHS did not follow the correct procedures for allowing for public comment when they issued the regulations in 2008. DHS was given until February 12, 2016 to republish the regulations with an appropriate notice and call for comments.

The proposed regulations include significant changes to the 17-month extension of OPT. If published as proposed, these changes will affect students currently on the 17-month extension, as well as students applying in the future. The proposed regulations are available for public review and comment at the U.S. Federal Register until November 18, 2015.

Eligible F-1 students can continue to apply for, and work on 17-month extension through the February 12th deadline.  ISS will provide more information as it becomes available.

Read the proposed regulation in its entirety: Improving and Expanding Training Opportunities for F-1 Nonimmigrant Students with STEM Degrees and Cap-Gap Relief for All Eligible F-1 Students

 

Part-time Study Opportunities for F-2 Dependents

The Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) announced a new rule effective May 29, 2015, that increases opportunities to study for spouses and children of nonimmigrant F-1 students. F-2 spouses and children may enroll for less than a full course of study at a college, university or community college.

F-2 spouses and children are allowed to enroll in less than a "full course of study" at an SEVP-certified school without violating their status, even if that part-time study eventually leads to a degree or certificate.  The University of Arizona defines less than a full course of study as:

F-1 Undergraduates

11 units or less

F-1 Graduates

8 units or less
2 units (if only registered in 900 level)
1 unit in Advanced Status is not allowed

If an F-2 dependent pursues a full course of study, this will result in a violation of status.  F-2 dependents are still prohibited from engaging in employment.

International Student Services (ISS) welcomes this opportunity to introduce part-time study opportunities for F-2 dependents.  To find more information, visit the Study in the States webpage. If you have any questions, please contact ISS at dso@email.arizona.edu, or visit us during advising hours to learn more.