The third installment of Mitchell Williams' Immigration Series on alternatives to H-1B visas is F-1 OPT-STEM Extension.

Option 2: F-1 OPT – STEM Extension

F-1 foreign national graduates of U.S. universities and colleges in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM Fields) are eligible for an additional two (2) years of OPT work authorization. As such, an employer may employee a foreign national graduate of a U.S. university of college with a STEM degree for a maximum of three (3) years, if the student is eligible for the OPT STEM extension. This can be particularly beneficial as it will allow the employer to file approximately three (3) H-1B petitions to get selected in the H-1B lottery.

For U.S. employers, it is very important to remember that the OPT STEM extension option is only available to foreign national students with U.S. degrees in the STEM fields working at employers that are enrolled in E-Verify. U.S. employers interested in taking advantage of this work authorization extension must first be enrolled in E-Verify. Employers should also become knowledgeable of the requirements of the STEM OPT extension at https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/stem-opt-hub.