FAQs for 17-Month STEM Extension

  1. When should I apply for the 17-Month STEM Extension?
  2. Can I continue working while my EAD card for the 17-Month Extension is pending?
  3. What if I have a STEM degree but cannot find a job at an E-verify company. Can I still qualify for the 17-Month STEM Extension?
  4. Whom do I contact if I am unsure if my degree is a STEM approved degree for 17-Month Extension?
  5. I am nearing the end of my Post-completion OPT authorization and want to apply for the 17-Month Extension, but I am not finished with my project. Am I still eligible?
  6. What if I submitted my thesis/project a couple of months ago, but my degree hasn’t been posted yet?
  7. Must my employment be related to my degree during 17-Month Extension, in order for me to be in status?
  8. Does volunteer work count as employment in order to maintain my status while on 17-Month Extension?
  9. How many days of unemployment do I have once I am on the 17-Month Extension?
  10. What are my reporting requirements once I am on the 17-Month Extension?
  11. What is the application process?
  12. Can I apply for 17-Month Extension and an H-1B at the same time?
  13. What if I’m already on the 17-Month Extension and I got laid off and can’t find work at an E-Verify company?

1.    When should I apply for the 17-Month STEM Extension?

You can apply for the 17-Month STEM Extension as early as 120 days before your Post-completion OPT ends.  The deadline for USCIS to accept the application is the last day of your Post-completion OPT.

2.    Can I continue working while my EAD card for the 17-Month Extension is pending?  

Yes.  You can continue working up to 180 days beyond your Post-completion OPT end date without a new EAD card.  

3.    What if I have a STEM degree but cannot find a job at an E-verify company.  Can I still qualify for the 17-Month STEM Extension?

No, your application must include a job offer from an E-Verify employer. You have 30 additional days of unemployment once you are on the 17-Month Extension.  Any employment during that time must be for an E-Verify employer.  If you are unable to find proper employment with an E-Verify employer you will no longer be maintaining status and must depart the US.  

4.    Whom do I contact if I am unsure if my degree is a STEM approved degree for 17-Month Extension?

Please see an international student advisor.

5.    I am nearing the end of my Post-completion OPT authorization and want to apply for the 17-Month Extension, but I am not finished with my project.  Am I still eligible?

No, you are not eligible; the regulation says you need to show proof of a completed degree to USCIS.  

6.    What if I submitted my thesis/project a couple of months ago, but my degree hasn’t been posted yet?

You need to show proof of a completed degree to USCIS with either a transcript or a diploma, and if you don’t have one then your application will be denied.  

7.    Must my employment be related to my degree during 17-Month Extension, in order for me to be in status?

Yes, your employment must be related to your degree.  

8.    Does volunteer work count as employment in order to maintain my status while on 17-Month Extension?

Yes, volunteer work does count, as long as you are volunteering with an E-Verify company and working in a position that relates to your degree.  

9.    How many days of unemployment do I have once I am on the 17-Month Extension?

You have an additional 30 days of unemployment on the 17-Month Extension, in addition to the 90 days of unemployment during Post-completion OPT.  

10.    What are my reporting requirements once I am on the 17-Month Extension?

You must report your employment to IPS every 6 months so that we can update your SEVIS record. All reportable events are listed on the 17-Month STEM Extension Report (and validation) page.

11.    What is the application process?

Please visit our 17-Month STEM Extension page for more information.

12.    Can I apply for 17-Month Extension and an H-1B at the same time?

No, you can only apply for one or the other.  Applying for both at the same time could result in the denial of one, or both, or could cause delays in processing.  

13.    What if I’m already on the 17-Month Extension and I got laid off and can’t find work at an E-Verify company?  

Unfortunately, the only you are only authorized for employment with an E-Verify employer.  Please speak with an international student advisor about possible options.