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Palm Beach County Immigration Attorney > Blog > Business Based Immigration > Is the STEM OPT Extension Right for Me?

Is the STEM OPT Extension Right for Me?


If you’re a student on an F-1 visa and you’re studying a STEM subject, you might have the ability to stay in the country for longer than usual to complete work-related training. The United States recognizes that it needs skilled STEM workers like you, and it incentivizes you to contribute to US-based companies and startups while providing you with exciting on-the-job training. The STEM OPT Extension makes all of this possible – but is it the right choice for you?

Do You Have the Right Degree? 

If you’re wondering whether or not the STEM OPT Extension is right for you, your first question should be whether you have the right degree. “STEM” stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.” If you have a degree in one of these fields, you probably qualify for this type of F-1 visa extension. However, it’s also worth noting that other degrees may qualify under certain circumstances – as long as they are somewhat related to STEM. Mostly, these related fields involve innovative and new technologies. Speak with a qualified immigration lawyer to determine whether your degree qualifies.

 Did You Already Complete 12 Months of OPT? 

In essence, a STEM OPT Extension is an “extension of an extension.” This opportunity is geared toward students who have already taken advantage of an initial Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. This program gives you 12 months to work in the United States after completing your educational studies, and you get access to one extension for each degree “level” you complete (master’s, bachelor’s, etc.).

In other words, you can only apply for the STEM OPT Extension if you have already “exhausted” your available 12-month OPT extensions. Take advantage of these initial extensions first before applying for a STEM OPT Extension if possible.

 Does Your Employer Qualify? 

In addition, you should consider whether or not your employer qualifies to sponsor you for this extension. There are many requirements for employers, and you may need to discuss this in more detail with your immigration lawyer and your employer. The most important requirements are enrollment with the E-Verify program, work opportunities that match your STEM degree, and at least 20 hours of work per week.

 Could You Apply for a Different Visa Instead? 

Finally, you should ask yourself whether you can apply for a more appropriate, long-term visa instead of a STEM OPT Extension. If your employer wishes to hire you on a full-time, long-term basis, you could always apply for a skilled worker permit instead. Speak with your immigration lawyer to determine the most appropriate step forward.

Find a Qualified Immigration Lawyer in Palm Beach County 

If you’ve been searching for a qualified, experienced immigration lawyer in Palm Beach County, look no further than the Devore Law Group. Over the years, we have helped a wide range of immigrants explore various work and study opportunities in the United States. With our assistance, you can determine your eligibility for a STEM OPT Extension and streamline the application process from start to finish. Book your consultation today to get started.




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