Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published its new rule on STEM Optional Practical Training. The rule will take effect on May 10. This long-awaited rule makes sweeping changes to the current system. Some of the highlights include:


  • Extends the 17-month STEM OPT extension to a 24-month period
  • Provides a concrete definition of what constitutes an eligible STEM program and an ongoing source for updates on eligible fields
  • Establishes a training plan (Form I-983: Training Plan for STEM OPT STUDENTS)
    • Must be completed once every 12 months
    • To be signed by student and an appropriate individual in the employer’s organization
    • Must be provided to the DSO
  • Allows F-1 students that have previously received STEM degrees to apply for a STEM OPT extension, if:
    • The degree was received from an accredited institution at the time of application for the STEM OPT
    • The accredited institution is SEVP-approved
    • The position directly relates to the STEM degree program
  • Requires a STEM OPT Employer to attest the student will not replace a full-or part time, temporary or permanent U.S. worker;
  • Allows for employer site visits
    • Employers will be notified 48 hours in advance of a visit, unless the site visit is to address complaint or evidence of noncompliance, in which case no notice will be provided.
  • Maintains the 90 day limit on unemployment during initial post-completion OPT but extends the STEM OPT limit to 150 days of unemployment

This new rule also maintains many of the 2008 Rule on STEM OPT provisions including the following:

  • Requires all employers of STEM OPT individuals to be enrolled in E-Verify and in good standing
  • Requires employers to report changes in a STEM OPT individual’s employment within 5 business days
  • Requires STEM OPT individuals to report name/address changes or changes in employment to their Designated School Official (DSO)
  • Allows for a cap-gap extension of a student’s F-1 and OPT for timely filed H-1B petitions

Employers or STEM-eligible applicants with questions or concerns regarding this new rule and its implementation are urged to contact Celebrezze Law at 440-669-5914 or [email protected].

By: Jaclyn C. Celebrezze of Celebrezze Law, LLC ( | [email protected] )