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Jan 21, 2017 11:34 AM EST

Department of Homeland Security Grants International STEM Sutdents Extension For US Visas

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Student visa holders in the United Sates can ask for visa extension. These are the students who are enrolled in STEM courses and who undergo Optional Practical Training (OPT) may apply. The Department of Homeland Security announced the new policy last year. The duration of the extension will depend on the length of time to complete the OPT.

STEM students are those taking courses in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Student visa extension will be in effect until the students finish their OPT.

STEM students applying for student visa extension  must submit several documents. These include  the Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status or Form I-20. Another document is the  Application for Employment Authorization or Form I-785. They should also provide a copy of their eligible STEM degree.

Only the designated school official (DSO) can recommend the extension of student visa. Student visa extension starts after the students started their OPT or their job for a STEM employer. STEM students undertake the OPT once for a degree. A student can undergo OPT after completing a bachelor's degree, master's degree and doctorate degree, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

Thousands of STEM students will benefit from the extension. They come to the US to study science, technology, engineering and Mathematics courses. Some plan to go back to their country while many want to stay. Those who want to stay do it because of the high salaries and the chance to become permanent residents, according to Immigration Policy Institute. The extension will let these students continue studying in the US. The Department of Homeland Security advised students to submit all requirements for quick processing of the visa extension.

Currently, the administration pushes for an all-American workforce. However, with regards to jobs relevant to STEM, there is not enough number of Americans to fill the vacancies. The United States need STEM graduates for these jobs. This makes student visa extension for STEM students and professionals a logical thing to do. 

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