Magazine article International Educator

Renewed Focus on STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Magazine article International Educator

Renewed Focus on STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Article excerpt

ON AUGUST 12, 2015, a federal judge vacated the provision in a 2008 regulation that had established a 17-month extension of optional practical training (OPT) for international student STEM graduates, finding that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), under the Bush administration at the time, had implemented that provision without appropriate public notice or comment. The original 12-month standard OPT program was not affected by this ruling.

The court stayed its order for six months, until February 12, 2016, which might give DHS time to publish a new rule before the order goes into effect. (It is important to note that the court found that establishing the STEM OPT benefit in 2008 was within the scope of DHS's regulatory authority, and that the court's decision to vacate was based on the procedural deficiency only.)

DHS has been working on publishing a new STEM OPT regulation to cure the procedural defects of the 2008 rule, to implement President Obama's executive action to "strengthen and expand" STEM OPT, and to address other issues raised with STEM OPT. …

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