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