EIG Dispatch | April 29, 2016


  • UPDATE: USCIS Will Begin Accepting 24-Month STEM OPT Applications
  • Russian Authority on Immigration Reorganized
  • Australia Announces Immigration Changes
  • UPDATE: H-1B Cap Premium Processing Date Moved Up

UPDATE: USCIS Will Begin Accepting 24-Month STEM OPT Applications

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting applications for 24-month STEM OPT EAD Cards starting on May 10, 2016.  The new STEM OPT regulation increases the amount of time available on STEM OPT extension from 17 months to 24 months.  Employment authorization is available for F-1 students who have completed their initial 12-month post-completion OPT and have earned a degree in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) discipline from an accredited U.S. institution.  As part of the change to the new STEM OPT program, an applicant must work with an employer to develop a training plan on the Form I-983.  The Form I-983 must be submitted to the foreign national’s university Designated School Official (DSO) before receiving a newly endorsed Form I-20.

A STEM OPT extension requires an F-1 student to:

  • File no sooner than 90 days before his/her current post-completion OPT EAD Card expires;
  • Submit a copy of the newly endorsed Form I-20 reflecting the STEM OPT extension; and
  • Submit a copy of the STEM Degree.

Applicants who are currently using a 17-month STEM OPT extension will be able to apply for an additional seven months of STEM OPT as long as the applicant:

  • Files a new I-765 Application between May 10, 2016 and August 8, 2016;
  • Has at least 150 calendar days on their 17 month STEM OPT at the time of filing; and
  • Files a training plan (Form I-983).

More information on the new STEM OPT program is available here.

Russian Authority on Immigration Reorganized

On April 5, 2016, the Russian Federal Migration Service (FMS) dissolved and its functions and authorities were transferred to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The FMS was a federal law enforcement agency responsible for implementing state policy on migration and performing limited law enforcement functions. The FMS was designed to oversee resident registration and immigration control in Russia but did not adequately control drug trafficking due to its inability to conduct investigations or arrest suspects. The current reorganization is intended to address these inefficiencies and function as a more responsive agency.

Australia Announces Immigration Changes

With the intent to encourage employment of skilled migrant workers in Australia, the Australian Immigration Department has announced changes to the student visa program and Subclass 457 visa program for highly skilled workers. Australian business sponsors of Subclass 457 visas are prohibited from engaging in discriminatory recruitment practices on the grounds of immigration status and citizenship, and must now make a written attestation of such. Another relevant change includes a waiver of English language requirements for certain applicants. Additionally, in July 2016, changes will be made to the student visa program to streamline the process by reducing subclasses from eight to two.

UPDATE: H-1B Cap Premium Processing Date Moved Up

As an update, USCIS announced that it will begin processing H-1B cap-subject petitions requesting premium processing on May 12, 2016. Therefore, the 15-day processing clock will begin on May 12th, regardless of the date on the Form I-797 receipt notice. Petitioners can find more information about the H-1B Cap process and sign up for H-1B Cap Season email updates here.