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Update on Optional Practical Training (OPT) STEM Extensions

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On January 23, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued an order relating to the August 2015 case, Washington Alliance of Technology Workers v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security. As reported in our prior bLAWg post, the mentioned case vacated (i.e. cancelled) the 2008 immigration rule allowing Optional Practical Training (“OPT”) individuals to request a 17-month extension of their OPT status based on having a degree in a Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (“STEM”) field. However, in order to allow time for the passage of a replacement rule, the court stayed (i.e. postponed) the vacatur until February 12, 2016.

In its newly-issued order, the court grants an extension of the vacatur stay for 90 days. This means that F-1 students currently possessing OPT STEM work authorization will now be permitted to continue employment until May 10, 2016. Additionally, those students eligible to apply for an OPT STEM extension can continue submitting their applications during the extended timeframe. This is exciting news for students and employers alike.

The fact that the OPT STEM vacatur has been further stayed for 90 days will allow the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS) to complete the federal rulemaking process on its proposed rule, “Improving and Expanding Training Opportunities for F-1 Nonimmigrant Students With STEM Degrees and Cap-Gap Relief for All Eligible F-1 Students.” For more information on DHS’ proposed rule, please refer to our October 20, 2015 bLAWg post.

We will continue to monitor the progress on the proposed rule, so stay tuned for updates.

GoffWilson is your source for immigration updates! Contact our office today with any questions.
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