On January 23rd, 2016 the United States District Court for the District of Columbia extended through May 10th, 2016 the current STEM OPT program. This means that F-1 students can continue to work pursuant to valid STEM OPT documents and can continue to apply for the 17-month STEM OPT extension until May 10th, 2016, or, until DHS publishes its final rule.
As reported on by SPS Immigration on August 12, 2015, the court gave DHS until February 12, 2016 to issue a new rule that meets APA notice and comment requirements. However, because DHS received more than 50,500 responses to its proposed STEM OPT rule – which is more than DHS has ever received on a proposed regulation – DHS requested an extension of the STEM OPT program to give it more time to review the comments and publish the final rule. The Court agreed and found that undue hardships to STEM OPT participants and employers remain the same, thereby warranting an extension of the program while DHS finalizes and publishes the rule.
According to DHS, there are approximately 23,000 STEM OPT participants, 2,300 dependents of STEM OPT participants, 8,000 pending applications for STEM OPT Extensions, and 434,000 foreign students who might be eligible to apply for STEM OPT authorization.
If you have questions about the STEM OPT litigation, or how it may impact your immigration situation, please contact SPS Immigration. We will continue to monitor developments and publish updates as they become available.