NYU College of Global Public Health programs have been classified as STEM-eligible, allowing international students on an F-1 visa to apply for two years of additional employment in the United States after graduation if they meet the required criteria.
With NYU’s location in New York City, students are exposed to endless professional development opportunities, and this new designation will help qualifying students build their CVs and give them a competitive advantage in the global job market. Students in all concentrations within the Master of Public Health, Master of Arts in Bioethics, the new Master of Science in Biostatistics, and the Doctorate of Philosophy in Public Health degree may be eligible.
What is STEM?
STEM is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Students may be eligible for an additional 24 months of work authorization if they complete a program in a STEM designated field. The Department of Homeland Security has compiled a STEM Designated Degree Program list which is used to verify one’s eligibility for the extension based on the CIP code of their program. GPH has recently been classified as a STEM qualifying program according to the school’s new CIP code.
What is OPT?
OPT stands for Optional Practical Training and is a form of work authorization that allows a student to work up to 12 months in a field related to their degree of study upon successful completion of their program
How does STEM designation affect the OPT process?
Students who complete a STEM degree may be eligible to apply for the STEM extension, which is an additional additional 24 months of work authorization. If a student successfully applies and is approved for post-OPT and then the OPT STEM extension, they may be granted up to 36 months of practical training in total. Eligibility for the STEM extension is reviewed by the OGS and must meet government regulations. More information can be found here.
When do students apply for the OPT?
Students who are in their last semester of study should apply for OPT about 90 days before their program ends. Once a student applies, the OGS can issue an updated I-20 with the OPT recommendation. Students will send their OPT I-20 along with all other application materials to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The entire OPT process takes about 3-5 months from the time a student submits the request to OGS and then their final application to USCIS. A student may be approved for up to 12 months of work authorization on post-OPT.
STEM eligible students can apply for the STEM OPT extension at 90 days before the post-completion OPT is expiring - going through a similar process they did during their last semester of study. The process for STEM can be found here.
Note: Currently the USCIS, who processes OPT applications, is delayed in processing. It is better to apply sooner rather than later! This is why we recommend 3-5 months prior to program completion.
What types of jobs qualify?
For the standard, post-completion OPT, you need to be working at least 20 hours a week, which is considered full-time. The position can be paid or unpaid and must be related to your field of study. You may find more information here. Your position title does not matter for the post-completion OPT; you can be an intern, freelancer, volunteer, or a salaried employee.
For the STEM OPT extension, however, you must be a paid, full-time employee. There are different employer obligations while a student is on STEM OPT. Please see here for more information.
What is needed to apply for OPT?
Applying for OPT is a two step process. First, students must apply to the OGS for the OPT I-20. Next, upon OGS approval, students will apply for the OPT work authorization by sending their OPT I-20 along with all other application documents to USCIS for review. USCIS will ultimately determine the outcome of a student’s application, either by approving, denying, or requesting further evidence on an applications.
The OGS requires that students submit the OPT application online, in which they will also need to list their academic advisor and their contact information. Academic advisors must verify that a student is expected to complete their program before the OGS can issue an OPT I-20.
Once academically approved, the OGS will review the student’s i-94 record, their passport, and the Form I-765. We will issue the OPT I-20 with the selected start and end dates and recommend changes to the I-765 form. The student will pick up the OPT I-20 from the StudentLink Center and will come to Advising Hours with all required materials for a final application review before sending to USCIS.
The NYU Office of Global Services has all resources and information available to make sure you fill out all the proper paperwork and have supporting documentation.
What are my chances of getting approved?
Students' chances of being approved for OPT are good, given that they follow our instructions carefully. We see the most rejections or denials with students who have not consulted the OGS for a final application review before sending to USCIS.
More information: NYU Office of Global Services