A common question asked by STEM students is can a STEM student only apply for a extension once in a lifetime ? For those not familiar with STEM, STEM is an refers to the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Practical training may be authorized to an F-1 student who has been lawfully enrolled on a full time basis, in a Service-approved college, university, conservatory, or seminary for one full academic year. This provision also includes students who, during their course of study, were enrolled in a study abroad program, if the student had spent at least one full academic term enrolled in a full course of study in the United States prior to studying abroad. A student may be authorized 12 months of practical training, and becomes eligible for another 12 months of practical training when he or she changes to a higher educational level. Students in English language training programs are ineligible for practical training. An eligible student may request employment authorization for practical training in a position that is directly related to his or her major area of study. There are two types of practical training available:
Optional practical training
(A) General. Consistent with the application and approval process in paragraph (f)(11) of this section, a student may apply to USCIS for authorization for temporary employment for optional practical training directly related to the student’s major area of study. The student may not begin optional practical training until the date indicated on his or her employment authorization document, Form I-766. A student may be granted authorization to engage in temporary employment for optional practical training:
17-month extension of post-completion OPT for students with a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degree. A qualified student may apply for an extension of OPT while in a valid period of post-completion OPT. The extension will be for an additional 17 months, for a maximum of 29 months of OPT, if all of the following requirements are met. So basically if you are pursuing education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics you can apply for a 29 months of OPT.
But the student should not have previously received a 17-month OPT extension after earning a STEM degree.