STEM OPT Rule Update

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will have 90 additional days to revise the F-1 STEM OPT rule. The original rule, allowing for 17 months of additional OPT time if the student was in a STEM field, was order to be vacated as of February 12, 2016. U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle granted DHS’s request to extend the expiration date terminating the original rule so that the agency can avoid a regulation gap. USCIS now has until May 10, 2016 to revise and publish the new STEM OPT rule.

USCIS requested this extension citing the need for more time to review the more than 50,500 comments it received on its replacement rule and argued that allowing the old optional practical training regulation to expire next month would hurt tens of thousands of students relying upon it. The comment period ended November 18, 2015. Judge Huvelle agreed, starting that the significance of the undue hardship to STEM OPT participants and employers that warranted the stay in the first place “cannot be understated.”

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