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STEM OPT Extended Through May 10, 2016

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STEM OPT Extended Through May 10, 2016

January 26, 2016

A federal district judge has extended the STEM OPT program through May 10, 2016 to allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) additional time to finalize a new regulation.  F-1 students with a valid STEM OPT employment authorization document (EAD) can continue to work beyond February 12, 2016.  Furthermore, USCIS will continue to accept new applications for STEM extensions of OPT and approve them for  17 months allowed by existing regulations.

Last August, the 17-month STEM OPT was invalidated on grounds that the government had failed to follow proper notice and comment procedures when enacting the law back in 2008.  The court vacated the 2008 regulation, but stayed its ruling until February 12, 2016 to allow DHS time to properly promulgate the law and to minimize the substantial hardship on F-1 students and employers.  In October, the DHS proposed a revised rule which, among other changes, would increase the STEM OPT period to 24 months.  The government received 50,500 comments to the proposed rule, and asked the district court for more time to finalize the STEM OPT rule.

DHS is expected to publish the new rule before the May 10 deadline, with an effective date 30 days after publication.

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