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DHS Issues Supplemental Q&A on OPT Interim Rule for F-1 Students


The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued supplemental questions and answers (Q&A) on an interim final rule, effective April 8, 2008, that extends the maximum period of optional practical training (OPT) from 12 months to 29 months for F-1 students who have completed a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degree and accept employment with employers enrolled in U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS’) E-Verify employment verification program. Currently, F-1 students who have been enrolled on a full-time basis for at least one full academic year in a certified college, university, conservatory, or seminary are eligible for 12 months of OPT to work for a U.S. employer in a job directly related to the student’s major area of study.

Among other things, the supplemental Q&A notes that on April 18, 2008, USCIS announced an e-mail notification process allowing a petitioner whose pending H-1B petition on behalf of an F-1 student was randomly selected to receive an H-1B visa number for fiscal year (FY) 2009 to request change of status in lieu of consular processing, as originally indicated on the petition. Because some FY 2009 H-1B petitions for these students already may have been approved for consular processing when USCIS published this e-mail notification process, the Q&A asks: Can the petitioner still request change of status? The answer is yes. The Q&A states that the petitioner should send an e-mail to the USCIS service center that issued the approval, using the designated e-mail address (below). Such requests must include the H-1B receipt number, as well as the petitioner’s and the beneficiary’s names.

If the H-1B petition and change of status application are pending, the change of status request should be submitted to the center within 30 days of the receipt notice. In addition to including the receipt number and the name of the petitioner and beneficiary, the Q&A notes, the request also should include the beneficiary’s date of birth, I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record) number, and Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) number.

Separate e-mail addresses have been established for premium and non-premium processing cases:

Vermont Service Center
Premium processing cases: VSCPPCAPGAP.Vscppcapgap@dhs.gov
Non-premium cases: VSCNONPPCAPGAP.Vscnonppcapgap@dhs.gov

California Service Center
Premium processing cases: CSC.ppcapgap@dhs.gov
Non-premium cases: CSC.nonppcapgap@dhs.gov

The second supplemental Q&A is available here. The first supplemental Q&A is available as a PDF here.

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Ivener & Fullmer LLP, a nationally recognized law firm, has successfully assisted hundreds of clients in immigration matters.

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