DHS Proposes New Rule to Extend STEM OPT Program

In response to a District Court decision court decision invalidating the STEM OPT program, the Department of Homeland Security proposed a new rule proposal on October 19, 2015. In addition to seeking to maintain the STEM OPT program in compliance with the court ruling, the new rule would make several key changes to the STEM OPT program. We will review the rule proposal and what it means going forward in this article.

DHS List of STEM-Designated Programs

In 2012, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its most recent list of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics)-designated degree program list. This article includes the list of STEM-designated degree programs and basic requirements for STEM optional practical training extensions.

Overview of 24-Month STEM OPT Extensions

On March 11, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published its new final rule regarding STEM OPT extensions for F1 students. The new rule also makes alterations to OPT in general and the H1B “cap-gap” protection. The final rule is effective on May 10, 2016. In this article, we will examine the new rules for 24-month STEM OPT extensions as well as the rules for students who are currently in the midst of STEM OPT extensions under the previous regulatory scheme.