Update on the STEM OPT Regulations

Under a Federal regulation put into place in 2008, international students in F-1 status with a STEM degree are able to extend their work authorization after graduation (OPT) another 17 months, in addition to the initial 12 months available to other F-1 students. The validity of this regulation was recently challenged by Washington Alliance of Technology Workers which alleged that Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not have authority to implement this regulation and that it did not adhere to the proper notice and comment procedures. The court found that DHS had authority to create this extension program and Washington Alliance of Technology Workers are appealing this decision, but further determined that the regulations were implemented incorrectly, and gave DHS until February 12, 2016 to implement the rules correctly. On January 23, 2016 DHS was granted an extension until May 10, 2016 to meet its procedural obligations. In the meantime, students and their dependents on STEM OPT may remain in the U.S. and continue working for their employer. DHS may also continue accepting STEM OPT applications during this time.