The U.S. Department of Homeland Security released today an interim final rule extending the period of Optional Practical Training (OPT) from 12 to 29 months for qualified F-1 non-immigrant students. The extension will be available to F-1 students with a degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics who are employed by businesses enrolled in the E-Verify program.
“This rule will enable businesses to attract and retain highly skilled foreign workers, giving U.S. companies a competitive advantage in the world economy,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. “By extending the training period by an additional 17 months to students who are employed by businesses enrolled in E-Verify, we are further ensuring a legal workforce in the U.S. and aiding good corporate citizens.”
DHS Release : Optional Practical Training Interim Final Rule(PDF)
Update :: How to apply for extension :
(quoting from the DHS Document linked below)
1. Students who wish to extend OPT must request that their DSO recommend the 17-month OPT extension. DSOs recommending the extension must verify the student's eligibility, certify that the student's degree is on the STEM Designated Degree Program List, and ensure that the student is aware of his or her responsibilities for maintaining status while on OPT. The DSO must make the recommendation to extend OPT for the student through SEVP's Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), a Web-enabled database for the collection of information related to F, M and J nonimmigrants, certified schools, and State Department approved exchange visitor programs.
2. Once the DSO recommends a student for the extension, the student must submit a Form 1-765 and appropriate fees (as indicated in the form instructions) to USCIS. Instructions for filing the Form 1-765 can be found at USCIS' website at www.uscis.eov.
Please note that your Employer also must meet certain requirements.
Refer to DHS Release : Optional Practical Training Interim Final Rule(PDF) for more information.