With an interim rule announced by DHS recently, certain students on F-1 can work for a total of 29 months on OPT before they get employment under H1B. Earlier, students could work only for 12 months maximum on OPT.
I have received numerous emails on how to apply for an extension to OPT. While I was not an authority on legalities involved, a quick look at the interim rule, I found some information. Please refer to the DHS Release : Optional Practical Training Interim Final Rule(PDF) for more information.
Also note that students who apply for this extension, must also comply with the new 6 monthly reporting requirements. Read the document thoroughly to understand your responsibilities and eligibility criteria.
(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.
Previously mentioned as a comment at Thought Garage » F-1 Students Can Work on OPT for 29 Months