Are You Affected By STEM OPT Extension Cancellation? Check Here.

Raghuram Sukumar OPT 44 Comments

Federal Judge Cancelled 17 Months STEM OPT Extension with effective date of Feb 12, 2016. So, biggest question is, How does this affect you (students)?

To be more specific, here are the various stages of Current and Prospective Student and the impact on them at various stages.

  1. A Student who just arrived in USA for Fall 2015 Semester (F1 Visa)
  2. A student who will come to USA to Study on of After Jan 2016 (F1 Visa)
  3. A Student who will Graduate by December 2015 (F1 Visa)
  4. A Student who is in Initial 12 Months OPT Period  (F1 Visa with OPT)
    1. Apply for Extension Before Feb 12, 2016
    2. Apply for Extension After Feb 12, 2016
  5. A Student who is in STEM Extension Period Now (expiring After Feb 12, 2016)

Following Infographics should cover Above scenarios. Let me know if you have any specific questions. Click on the image to enlarge.

stem opt extension ruling impact



  • As per the STEM OPT Extension court Ruling, 12 Months OPT is NOT Affected.
  • Only 17 Months STEM OPT Extension is Impacted with Effective Date of Feb 12, 2016.
  • DHS got less than 6 months to File an Appeal or Start New Rule Making process with Notice and Comment Rule Making process


If you have any questions about your specific situation, please post them in the comments section below.  If I have missed a specific scenario above, do let me know.


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  1. Hii Raghu

    I didn’t understand clearly, Students who are graduating by end dec 2015 will they get stem extension (12+17 months) or they get only 12 months opt ?

    Thank you

    1. Author

      If you graduate anytime from now to future.. 12 months OPT is there for everyone.

      Only 17 months STEM OPT extension is affected.

      I didn’t want to complicate the infographics with conditions (if and when).

      1. Even I am planning to graduate in Dec.

        Can you please suggest which is better in the current situation, graduating in Dec2015 or in June2016 ?
        Please suggest an option and reasons keeping H1B chances in mind. Thanks !!

          1. Mine is similar situation as of abhisheks. Well I want to put few of my thoughts on this.

            1. If grad in December need to get a job and run 3 month payroll to apply for April 16 H1 lot. Which I feel is not that viable. But if you can make it, you get time to wait for your results while you are in a valid status.

            2. If grad in may 16. You have enough time to get a job. But when you file your H1 in April 2017 you may be running out of your OPT time or your status to stay in US will be expired before you actually know the results of H1, and if got picked you may not have valid status to leave country for H1 stamping.

            Raghu please let me know if my understanding is correct in both the cases.

        1. Instead students of STEM fraternity should insist to stop USA Govt. Green Card lottery system inviting different countries citizen to apply every year under the scheme . The quota of this is 50000 every year should be diverted for STEM students who contribute immensely to USA economy and education sectors by paying hefty uni.fees and by contributing paying Income-tax to the US exchequer.

          In fact Green lottery is applicable to all citizens across the world irrespective of their qualification barring few coutries like india.brazil,chine etc.

  2. Hi Raghu, I was wondering if you could try and make an analysis about how this may possibly affect the H1B lottery next year – Do you think that there would be a greater number of employers who would try to file a visa applications due to a general sense of panic, or do you think it would lead to a reduction ?

    1. Author

      I’m not sure if I have to do that analysis. I was thinking to wait. Let me if more folks want to see that, I can do an H1b impact (just reply here).

  3. To best of my knowledge, there is no such thing as 12 months OPT. There is 12 month CPT and 17 month OPT, out of which 17 month OPT is revoked! Cheers!

    1. Author

      Initial OPT = 12 Months
      STEM Extension = 17 months
      CPT – As Required (12+ months CPT will results in ZERO Opt period).

  4. How can an OPT student apply for extension before Feb 12th (which means his OPT extension period will start after Feb 12th) when a student who is already on extension cannot work after Feb 12th?

    1. Author

      We don’t know much details. As of now, you can apply for OPT Extension before Feb 12, 2016. Application and Approval are two different things right?

      1. Are there any other ways we can get to work in USA if we do not get F1 in 2016 and out OPT end sometime later in 2016 ?

        1. Author

          ​There’s not a lot of options.

          1. Marriage, get H4 and wait for H4 EAD 2. Join second MS that gives CPT from Day 1 3. Apply for H1 directly (when quota opens)​

          1. Can you explain the last “What do you mean by Apply H1 directly” ? If I am not in US and not working in any US company can I still apply for H1 ?

  5. Hi Raghu,

    I am a Fall 2014 student, was expecting to finish up my graduation in May 2016 (now thinking of graduating Dec 2015).

    My question is I am confused if I should try, hurry and graduate Dec 2015 or wait and have hopes to get this rule reversed?

    I can take up all the remaining credits and apply for jobs this semester but that leaves me a lot of burden and with a lot of risk of not finding a job within this 6 months.

    I know you are not the deciding committee, but what’s your view: will this rule get reversed by Feb 2016? Is there a high probability?

    1. One more query.
      Lets say I do graduate in December 2015, start a job in Jan 2016, can i apply for OPT extension within the initial 1 month of my OPT / Job start? Isn’t that too early?

      1. I read this everywhere:
        The earliest that students can apply is 120 days before the end of the 12-month OPT.

        (Again i am taking about Students in USA (graduating by Dec 2015) How is it possible for such a student to apply for extension before Feb 2016?

        1. Author

          😀 there can be students who are using Pre-completion OPT.

  6. Hi raghu,
    I am in intial 12 months OPT period my 12 month OPT period is going to be expired on April 30 2016 so i will be applying my OPT Stem extension on feb 1 2016 so am i elgible to apply for OPT extension? And will i get OPT extension ?

  7. Hii Raghu,

    I am on my 12 months OPT period. This is going to expire in July 2016. If i apply for OPT extension before Feb 2016 and if it is approved, will i be able to work on 17 months extension Period? or even if you extend it is only applicable till feb 2016??

    1. No , you cant. Because you can submit your OPT Extension application only 120 days before the end of your OPT (as mentioned in your EAD card) . So, since your OPT will be ending in July, you can only send your Extension application in the month of March or April (depending on exact ending date).

  8. Just a quick question. If your 12 months opt expires before feb and you apply for an extension, you will get your extension. but finally all the students working on OPT extension will be ineligible to work as of feb 12th 2016?
    Thank you,

  9. Hello sukumar !!

    i am looking for admission in Potomac state college of west Virginia university.
    i heard a rumor about this university that they emailed to embassy to approve all the students (F1) visa who come with this university..
    this is true?? and will embassy will accept their email ???
    can you please clarify my dought

  10. Hi Raghuram Sukumar,

    My OPT start date is May 11 2016, I am eligible for 17 months OPT extension ??? Will DHS they accept it ???

    Thanks in advance !!!

  11. I am currently in my 12 month OPT which expires on MAY 22 2016, I am following your blog and i really take this opportunity to appreciate and thank you for this great work.
    Now, lets suppose DHS failed in filing challenge petition and students cannot get STEM extension. Can you please list out the possible options to continue working in US. Few best suggestions i got from friends and other blogs are

    1. Try filing for H1B and then apply for CAP GAP once you get receipt.
    2. At the worst case, join a university (which accepts CPT from sem1) for the remaining F1 period and try for full time at the end of your course.

    Above both options makes sense but i am not sure whether they works out or not. Please suggest me with all the possible options. Thanks in advance…

  12. I am currently on STEM extension which started June 2015 and will expire in Nov 2016. If DHS takes no action, then I assume my OPT will be invalid after Feb 16, 2016. If that is true, how much time am I left with to leave USA or take any other action. I read somewhere that students impacted by this will have 60 days after Feb 16, 2016 to pack and leave. If that is the case, will I be okay if my employer files for an H1 in April 2016, as that would give me CAP-GAP extension/grace period till October, correct?

  13. I don’t understand one thing . If this rule is implemented already and No body can work on STEM OPT after feb , 2016 , then technically no one should be applying for STEM OPT cause lets say if a person applies for STEM opt on 1st FEB ,2016 then he will just get 12 days to work when STEM OPT card processing takes 90 days ? Doesn’t make any sense .

    Also until now why USCIS has not updated there website ? Not all students are reading happyschoolsblog / news etc ?

    Also School DSO(s) should send email to every stem opt students so that they are aware of it. Otherwise it will be like all of sudden one day they will say hey your stem opt is invalidated and go back to your country ?

    1. Author

      You know the irony of your comment? When I first reported the news, you should see the comment. So many comments saying, this is fake news, this guy happy schools is always like this, this is some gimmick to get traffic.
      Now, no one is calling this as Fake news. After other blogs and websites reported the news, people started realizing the impact. Then everyone is signing petition (multiple times) to get White House to respond.

      Check H4 EAD Rule Making process. I covered it from Feb 2012 till it went live. Why folks came to HSB? that’s the nature of Rule Making. Government will not say much about the process or even the details of the rule till the Rule is ready to be published. Until then you (and I) are in blind. You can check the entire timeline of events and everything is documented from the time I got the gist about the rule. I talk to attorney’s to get answers and clarity. I have access (just little better than others) and I have some skills to get rank in first pages in Google. That’s why you are reading news in the Happy Schools and other blogs. Hope this helps.

  14. I am Currently on Stem Extension which started on Feb 10th 2015 and it will Expire on Feb 10th 2016. I will apply for extension before that but will I have any chance of applying for H1 for the year 2016 and get grace period till October

  15. Hi Raghu,

    I’m planning to do MS in MIS or CS (depending on STEM Extension issue) from Spring 2016. As said above by others, is it a good idea to complete the course with in 3 semesters (Spring, Summer & Fall, 2016) i.e., Jan-Dec, 2016 or better to complete slowly by April or June 2017 and then apply for 12 months OPT and then join a Company and then later in April 2018, apply for H1-B, which result will be known only after June’2018. Which again means I have to leave USA before I get to know the H1-B result. So after leaving to India should I’ve to go back to USA with H1-B(if I get H1-B when I’m in India) or I can stay back, even if my 12 months OPT is expired, till I get to know whether my lottery got picked or not???

    Raghu, please clarify this doubt. As many of us are really confused with this very same doubt.

    1. I’ve one more query:

      Once I come back to India with a US Masters degree & with 12 months (during 12 month OPT) of work experience in a US company, AND when I apply for H1-B, privately–

      1. Will my application be placed in 20k application for lottery, which is allotted for USA MS & PhD students and also in 65 k which is allotted to all Indians who apply from India without a Master’s degree from US?
      (i.e., 20k + 65 k –> high probability of getting a H1-B)


      2. Will my application be placed in 65 k which is allotted to all Indians who apply from India without a Master’s degree from US?
      (i.e., only 65 k –> low probability of getting a H1-B)

      Kindly explain me the scenario, with an example if possible???

      1. Author

        You will come under option 1. Advanced Degree cap and If not selected there, you will fall into General Cap.

    2. Author

      Interesting to see someone planning the graduation timing. I wish everyone does this 🙂

      I would have to do a detailed analysis on this topic. But, once we know the STEM OPT status, it would make sense to write on this topic. If I spend 5 hours writing this blog post and the then DHS when they fix the STEM OPT, this 5 hours is waste of time. So, I will hold on to this topic for a while. Remind me if things don’t change after Feb 2016. As of now, come to USA as planned in Spring 2016.

  16. My employer is filing H1B on April 2016, but my OPT expires on May 4 2016. If the STEM is cancelled or STEM is in rule making process and if I get selected in H1B lottery can I stay in US or should I leave? Even though I get H1B selected?

    1. Author

      Question to an attorney. It impacts your status and I can’t answer that.

  17. Hi Raghu,

    I am currently on my 17 month STEM OPT. It expires in November 2016.

    According to the latest update, DHS was granted an extension till May 10, 2016. So as of now the Stem OPT cards are valid. My company plans to file for H1B on April 2016.

    If I get selected in the lottery, regardless of what the outcome may be on the Stem OPT rule, will I be granted my H1B visa? Will the Stem OPT rule affect me if I get selected in the lottery?

    Also I wanted to thank you profusely for updating all the international students on the recent events that have transpired during the past couple of months with regards to the STEM OPT. I have been following your posts and have found them to be most helpful and informational. Thank you for the time and effort spent on educating the international community about ever changing rules and their impact on us. Keep up the great work!

    1. Author

      H1B Visa approval is depended on STEM OPT rule. It affects your status/work permit.

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