Tuesday, August 18, 2015

STEM OPT Extension Program Faces Uncertain Future

By Jordan Friedman
World Education Services

For international STEM students, a judge’s ruling last week has put their ability to stay in the U.S. for an extended period in jeopardy.

U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle said on Wednesday that the 2008 rule that allows math and science-related degree holders to remain in the U.S. for an additional 17 months of training has been vacated, effective February 2016. But there’s still a chance that the Department of Homeland Security could prevent this from taking place.

Let’s break it down:
  • Optional Practical Training, or OPT, enables international students (or those studying on an F-1 visa in the U.S.) to work in the U.S. for one year after earning their degree.
  • In 2008, a 17-month extension was added to the 12-month period for STEM students (those studying science, technology, engineering or math). This allows them to stay and work in the U.S. for up to 29 months.
  • In the recent case, Washington Alliance of Technology Workers v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, a judge ruled that the implementation of the STEM OPT Extension Program does not comply with the requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act.
  • The judge is revoking the extension program starting Feb. 12, 2016.
  • The Department of Homeland Security may now take action to comply with the act and hopefully allow the extension program to continue.
We will continue to provide updates on the status of the STEM OPT extension as information becomes available.

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