The court decision affecting students in F-1 standing pursuant to STEM OPT is still not settled. On January 23, 2016, the District Court for the District of Columbia granted the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's ("DHS") motion to extend the current status of the STEM OPT rule until May 10, 2016. Over 34,000 persons and their employers would suffer severe consequences if the STEM OPT extensions are not allowed.
Since 2008, certain F-1 foreign students with science, technology, engineering or mathematics ("STEM") degrees have been permitted to apply for a 17-month work authorization extension of their Optional Practical Training ("OPT") after graduation from a U.S. college or university. In August 2015, a court case found that the DHS did not follow proper procedural requirements when it issued this STEM Rule. The Court found all STEM extensions held by F-1 students to be invalid, but the Court gave DHS until February 12, 2016 (now May 10, 2016) to remedy the Rule's defects. Unfortunately, if this is not resolved by May 10, 2016, students currently on STEM OPT extensions may no longer have valid work authorization. Additional benefits are also affected, including cap gap protection and timing for students to file for work authorization. We will keep you updated on developments relating to this crucial issue.