F-1 Visa : OPT STEM EXTENSION INCREASE TO 24 months : DHS PROPOSES NEW RULE

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposes to amend its F-1 non-immigrant 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 after this rule was vacated by a Federal Court on procedural grounds in August 2015.

DHS HAS PROPOSED AN EXTENSION OF 24 MONTHS FROM THE EARLIER 17-MONTHS EXTENSION TO THE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET (OMB). THE PROPOSED RULE WILL BE SUBJECTED TO THE COMMENT PERIOD ON OR TILL NOVEMBER 18TH, 2015 AS PER THE FEDERAL REGISTER WEBSITE. (After the comment period, the comments will be reviewed and analyzed – OMB will then either recommend changes to the rule or clear the rule for publication – before publishing the final rule)

This 24-month extension would effectively replace the 17-month STEM OPT extension currently available to certain STEM students.

As with the current 17-month STEM OPT extension, the proposed rule would authorize STEM OPT extensions only for students employed by employers enrolled in U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS’) E-Verify employment eligibility verification program.

The proposal also includes the “Cap-Gap” relief first introduced in 2008 for any F-1 student with a timely filed H-1B petition and request for change of status.

This Cap-Gap relief allows such students to automatically extend the duration of F-1 status and any current employment authorization until October 1 of the fiscal year for which such H-1B visa is being requested.

Source : Federal Register: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/10/19/2015-26395/improving-and-expanding-training-opportunities-for-f-1-nonimmigrant-students-with-stem-degrees-and

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