On August 12, the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., ruled that the program granting 17-month extensions in F-1 Optional Practical Training for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students was invalid, citing that the program failed to follow the proper enactment procedures.
The F-1 OPT program allowed F-1 students who have majored in STEM fields to obtain an additional 17 months of OPT work authorization after graduation from their program, beyond the 12 months granted to F-1 students of all majors.
The court recognizes that the immediate elimination of STEM extensions would cause significant disruption to the thousands of individuals nationwide currently on STEM extensions, and also to employers, so it postponed the invalidation of the STEM program for six months, until February 12, 2016, to give the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) time to recreate the program using proper legal procedures.
What You Need to Know
- The current F-1 OPT STEM program will continue until February 12, 2016.
- DHS will likely solicit comments and opinions from the public about possible changes and improvements to the program in the coming months.
- Many believe the program has a good chance of continuing as long as DHS makes the necessary adjustments.
- This decision only impacts the 17-month OPT extensions for F-1 students in STEM fields. It does not impact the initial 12-month period of OPT.
It’s possible the F-1 OPT STEM program could be interrupted beginning in February 2016. Students employed through this program may wish to contact their schools to see if administrators are making internal adjustments in light of the decision.
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