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January 20, 2017

Newcomer's Almanac: A Newsletter for Newcomers to the United States

The Newcomer's Almanac is a publication of the Interchange Institute and is brought to you each month compliments of the International Scholars Office. You must have an MIT certificate to access the newsletter.

February edition - topics include Background to Today's News; Valentine's Day; and Translating the US Kitchen.

January edition - topics include Living in a New News Era; New Year's Eve and New Year's Day; and Martin Luther King, Jr.

December edition - topics include Vocabulary for Today's News; the upcoming Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa holidays; Gift-Giving at the End of the Year; and Medical Care in the U.S.

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November 18, 2016

The International Scholars Office has Moved!

The International Scholars Office (ISchO) has moved to a new location in E18-209 (50 Ames Street).

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August 5, 2016

International Faculty Orientation

Monday, August 29, 2016
9:00 am to 12:00 pm
Emma Rogers Conference Room (10-340)

Agenda (pdf)

Please RSVP to Vivian Ruiz


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April 29, 2016

Self-Sponsored Permanent Residence Options for Post-MIT Employment
April 26, 2016

Presentation Announcement


*An MIT computer certificate is needed to access these files.

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March 18, 2016

Department of Homeland Security publishes new rule on F-1 Practical Training

On March 11, 2016, the US Department of Homeland Security published a new rule about F-1 Practical Training in the Federal Register. The rule becomes effective May 10, 2016. A summary taken from the Rule is below.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is amending its F-1 nonimmigrant student visa regulations on optional practical training (OPT) for certain students with degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) from U.S. institutions of higher education. Specifically, the final rule allows such  F-1 STEM students who have elected to pursue 12 months of OPT in the United States to extend the OPT period by 24 months (STEM OPT extension). This 24-month extension effectively replaces the 17-month STEM OPT extension previously available to certain STEM students. The rule also improves and increases oversight over STEM OPT extensions by, among other things, requiring the implementation of formal training plans by employers, adding wage and other protections for STEM OPT students and U.S. workers, and allowing extensions only to students with degrees from accredited schools. As with the prior 17-month STEM OPT extension, the rule authorizes STEM OPT extensions only for students employed by employers who participate in E-Verify. The rule also includes the “Cap-Gap” relief first introduced in a 2008 DHS regulation for any F-1 student with a timely filed H-1B petition and request for change of status.

Additional information and resources:

The final rule in its entirety and commentary

List of STEM designated degree programs

Comprehensive explanations of the new rule can be found on the following websites: Study in the States and NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

What does this mean for you?

If you are a student in F-1 status, your primary source of information about Practical Training should be the International Office at the school that sponsored your F-1 visa. Please consult its websites and blogs.

  • Current F-1 regulations stay in effect until May 9, 2016. This means that if you currently have F-1 status and are in a period of post-completion optional practical training (OPT) you may continue working with your valid EAD.

  • If you are currently in your first, 12-month period of OPT and are eligible for a STEM extension, you may apply for the extension up to 90 days before the end of your current practical training period. You may request up to 24 months of STEM OPT if your application will be received by USCIS on or after May 10, 2016.

  • If you have applied or will apply for a STEM extension before May 10, 2016, your application will be accepted by US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Because you will only be able to request 17 months of STEM OPT until the new rule goes into effect, USCIS will issue you a notice requesting further evidence (RFE) to enable you to reply with a new 24-month recommendation and other required documentation from the International Office at your home institution.

  • If you are already in a period of STEM OPT, granted for 17 months, you may apply for an additional 7-month extension (up to 24 months total), on or after May 10, 2016. You must have at least 150 calendar days left on your current STEM OPT EAD in order to apply for the additional OPT.

  • You should be aware that in order to be eligible for STEM OPT, the new rules require that your employer complete a training plan for you, meet certain salary requirements, and make certain attestations about US workers. Your employer must complete evaluations of your progress, and the Department of Homeland Security may make site visits to employers hosting international employees on F-1 OPT.

Please visit the links above for more information and consult your F-1 home institution.

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January 26, 2016


On January 23, 2016, the U.S. District Court granted the Department of Homeland Security's request to extend the stay of the vacatur of the current STEM OPT rule from February 12, 2016 until May 10, 2016.

This extension allows current F-1 regulations to remain in place until May 10, 2016 while the agency completes review of over 50,000 comments received in response to its new proposed regulations. We expect DHS to republish the new STEM OPT regulations before May 10, 2016. The regulations will likely be released as a final or interim final rule.


  • If you have an EAD that allows you to work, you may continue do so until May 10, 2016.

  • If you have not yet applied for STEM OPT, you may do so before May 10, 2016. And you may be able to request a further extension in the future if STEM OPT is expanded to 24 months.

  • Please continue to read the web postings, emails and tweets of the international office at the university that originally authorized your OPT/STEM OPT, as it may post important updates, advice and information. The MIT ISchO will also try to keep you informed of the latest developments.

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