The U.S. has extended the period of Optional Practical Training for qualified F-1 students to 29 months from 12 months. The F-1 visa is often used by foreign students to acquire work experience after graduating from a U.S. institution. With the change, F-1 holders with a degree in science, technology, mathematics or engineering may qualify for up to 29 months of work after graduating if the entity that employs them enrols in the E-Verify Program.
One reason for the change is to overcome the "gap/cap" problem faced by many U.S. employers. Prior to the change, 12-month F-1 visas would usually expire prior to the October 1 H-1B start date. This gap often meant that F-1 holders were forced to leave the U.S. due to the expiry of their status prior to the time that they could obtain new status under an H-1B work visa.