The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a proposed rule providing for the extension of optional practical training (OPT) time for foreign students that obtain degrees in STEM fields of study.  STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math.  The new regulation proposes an additional twenty-four month extension to the existing twelve month OPT period.  This extension will be made available for each degree level should the individual obtain a bachelors degree and then later obtain a masters degree.  DHS is currently preparing a listing of eligible STEM fields that will be permitted to participate in the program and will provide that information at a later date. 

The proposed rule also imposes a few requirements on employers participating in the program.  Employers will be required to participate in E-Verify, implement mentoring and training programs to further the attainment of the practical experience contemplated by the program, attest to having the resources to provide the mentoring and attest that no U.S. workers experienced job losses as a result of employing the individual participating in the OPT program.

Stay tuned for the finalization of the rule and the detailed listing of STEM degree fields.