Michael Phulwani is a prominent attorney admitted to practice law in New York, New Jersey and India. He practices immigration and nationality laws and visa matters in the USA and abroad. He is a frequent lecturer on immigration laws and co-hosts several TV and radio programs on immigration. In this column, Phulwani will discuss frequent problems relating to immigration legislation and answer questions from our readers. All questions should be forwarded to Michael Phulwani, 888 Maywood Avenue, Maywood, NJ 07607.
By Michael Phulwani
The US Citizenship and Immigration Services has released an updated edition of the M-274, Handbook for Employers on January 15, 2011, which provided detailed information and instructions for completing Form I-9. Pertinent parts of this publication are provided below. This is the part 4 of the series of articles on Form I-9.
F-1 OPT STEM extension
An F-1 academic student, who received a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM), may apply for a one-time 17-month extension of his or her OPT. To qualify, a student must have completed a degree included in the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List found on ICE’s Web site at www.ice.gov/sevis/stemlist.htm. The employer must be enrolled in E-Verify in good standing and provide the E-Verify company identification number to the student for the student to apply to USCIS for the STEM extension using Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. A STEM student may change employers, but the new employer must be enrolled in E-Verify before the student begins work for pay.
If the student’s Employment Authorization Document (Form I-766) expires, while his or her STEM extension application is pending, he or she is authorized to work until USCIS makes a decision on his or her application, but not more than 180 days from the date the student’s initial OPT Employment Authorization Document (Form I-766) expires.
The student’s expired Em-ployment Authorization Document (Form I-766), together with his or her Form I-20 endorsed by the designated school official recommending the STEM extension are acceptable proof of identity and employment authorization for Form I-9 purposes. The employer should reverify employment authorization no later than 180 days from the expiration date of the previous Employment Authoriza-tion Document (Form I-766).
F-1 students, who seek to change to H-1B status, may be eligible for a cap-gap extension of status and employment authorization through September 30 of the calendar year for which the H-1B petition is being filed, but only if the H-1B status will begin on October 1. The term cap-gap refers to the period between the time a nonimmigrant’s F-1 student status would ordinarily end and his or her H-1B status begins. If the employer employs an F-1 nonimmigrant student in OPT and the employer filed an H-1B petition for that student, he or she may be able to continue working beyond the expiration date on his or her OPT Employment Authorization Document (Form I-766) while the petition is pending.
–To be concluded…