District Court Vacates 17 Month STEM OPT Program

The District Court for the District of Columbia held that a 2008 DHS interim final rule extending the period of post-graduation optional practical training (OPT) by 17 months for eligible STEM students on F-1 visas was invalid, because DHS issued the rule without notice and public comment. The court found, however, that vacating the rule immediately would cause substantial hardship for F-1 STEM students, and would create a major labor disruption for the technology sector. As such, the court ordered that the 2008 rule and its subsequent amendments be vacated, but that the vacatur be stayed until February 12, 2016, during which time DHS may submit the rule for proper notice and comment.

The DHS has yet to release updated OPT regulations after the White House said in November that the program would be extended as part of the president’s executive actions on immigration.  However, those regulations are far along, and we hope that the District Court ruling will make finalizing the regulations a priority.

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