Successful I-290B Motion to Reopen for a Nonetheless Approvable STEM OPT Application
August 30, 2023

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​We would like to share another successful case of our firm with you today. The client's STEM OPT application was denied, but with our help, we timely filed an I-290B Motion to Reconsider, and the client successfully obtained their work permit.

The client applied for a STEM OPT after the expiration of her first year OPT. A few months later, the client received a denial letter from USCIS. The letter pointed out that the degree program the client completed was not listed on the STEM Designated Degree Program List. Therefore, she was ineligible for employment authorization under STEM OPT.

Post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment directly related to an F-1 student's major. Eligible students can apply to receive up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization after completing their academic studies. If the students have earned a degree in certain science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, they may apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion OPT employment authorization. That means students holding STEM OPT will have three years in total of work authorization.

It is worth noting that the USCIS has stringent requirements on the submission time of STEM OPT applications. Students need to ensure that their OPT extension application is filed within 90 days before their OPT expires and 60 days after receiving their new I-20 Form. When the client contacted us, her previous one-year OPT had expired. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the client could not recover her student status by leaving and re-entering the United States.

After analyzing the client's situation, we believed that the immigration officer's decision was wrong because the client could submit a STEM OPT request based on her prior STEM qualifying degree. Therefore, we decided filing an I-290B (Motion to Reopen) was the best plan.

Here, let us introduce you to the relevant knowledge regarding Form I-290B. Generally, after an immigration application is denied, the applicant has the option to submit an I-290B form to challenge the denial. I-290B covers three types of motions, Motion to Reopen, Motion to Reconsider, and a combination of Motion to reopen and Motion to Reconsider.

A motion to reopen is based on documentary evidence of new facts. Alternatively, a motion to reconsider is based on a claim of incorrect application of law or policy to the prior decision.

Luckily, merely one month later, the I-290B motion was approved. The client's STEM OPT was also approved, and the new work permit was issued to her soon after.

The application of STEM OPT is very important for F-1 students because it provides an extra two years of work authorization. With the H-1B lottery winning rate getting lower and lower, it is very beneficial for international students to have two additional years to win the lottery.

If you, or somebody you know, find yourselves in a similar situation, and you need immediate assistance, our offices are here to help.

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