Updated : October 5th, 2015
There has been so much of news and confusion around the 17 month OPT extension cancellation by US District court. Some feel the news is fake as the document does not have signature…Below is the summary. To clarify, the news is real and there is so much of press coverage. This is developing news and we will keep the article up to date as info changes.
Updated : On October 2nd, DHS submitted the formal OPT STEM Extension rule re-issue details to OMB office. Check all details here
Background Information – What is 17 Month OPT extension? When was it passed by USCIS?
OPT stands for Optional Practical Training and it lets F1 students to work in US after their graduation ( or before) for 12 months. OPT is given to anyone who completes a degree like Bachelors, MS, MBA, or PhD from US Universities. Also, if the degree you get falls under STEM ( Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics ) category, the F1 student can apply for a 17 month extension of the OPT. This extension rule was passed by USCIS in April of 2008. The important thing to know is that this rule was issued as an interim rule without following the standard rule making process by Dept. of Homeland Security as this was created around that time of H1B lottery situation to help F1 students not selected in lottery to work on OPT for another year until they get another chance to file H1B and maybe try lottery next year.
You may read F1 working options of OPT vs CPT to understand the general program info.
Some are claiming that this is fake news as it does not have signature and not covered by mainstream news. Unfortunately, they are wrong ! Below is the exact case judgement published on Court Website. You may look for Date 8/12/2015
Summary of the News of Cancellation of 17 Month OPT by Federal Court Judge:
- Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, a collective-bargaining organization, has sued US Department of Homeland Security ( DHS) in March 2014 that the 17 month OPT extension rule that was passed by DHS in April 2008 did not follow standard rule making process like notice and comment period and it is invalid.
- The argument by the Washington Alliance of Tech workers is that DHS has exceeded their statutory authority and passed the 17 month OPT extension rule without going through the standard process and it has to be cancelled or revoked.
- The federal judge at the US District Court for the District of Columbia after reviewing the case and arguments gave judgment that there was no urgent need for DHS to bypass the standard process of rulemaking for the 17 month OPT extension interim rule and it has to be “vacated” ( cancelled ). “Vacated” in legal terms means that it has to be cancelled.
- The judgment also says that, if the 17 month OPT extension rule is immediately cancelled or vacated, it will impact the US tech sector businesses and the students. To help the situation, the judge has given 6 months period for DHS to correct the previous mistake and formally follow all the process to make the rule like notice and comment period. For now, the current 17 month OPT rule will continue to be valid until February 12, 2016. This is basically is the stay period. If DHS does not take any action, then the 17 month OPT extension rule will be invalid or revoked ( cancelled officially) from February 13, 2016.
Update on Aug 18th, 2015 : An article in computer world says that DHS mentioned that it is currently reviewing the rule and will give additional guidance on this in coming weeks.
Immediate Impact of the above OPT extension rule cancellation ?
- F1 Students working on OPT : It does not impact in any ways the current students working on general 12 month OPT.
- F1 Students working on 17 Month OPT extension : As you read above, the rule passed in 2008 is still valid until February 12, 2016. So, nothing to panic or worry at the moment. Your status is legal and you continue to work on 17 month OPT extension status.
- F1 Students Planning to apply for 17 Month OPT extension: Technically, as the rule is still valid, the process works like before and you should be able to apply as usual for OPT extension. We will have to wait for USCIS on the guidance. USCIS will issue any notice, if anything changes. So, for now, the you may continue to apply.
Future Impact – If this 17 month OPT rule is cancelled?
The impact could be pretty bad for STEM degree holders. If this rule is cancelled, it will not provide a second opportunity for F1 students in STEM Degrees to apply H1B for next year. With the recent whopping 233,000 petitions for H1B visa 2016 lottery, we can anticipate lottery for the next H1B Visa 2017 and if the OPT extension rule gets cancelled, many students not selected in lottery will have to leave the country after they are done with OPT. In 2008, these students in STEM category was about 23,000. In the last 5 years, this would have gone up quite a bit, so it impacts a lot of students. The rule making process can be long at times if it involves congress and other parties, it took years for H4 Visa EAD rule. Hopefully it will not take that much time and DHS acts quickly.
All in all, this is the news and judgment from Federal Court, we are yet to get information from USCIS/ DHS regarding this and guidance around the same. There are many unknowns at this point. We will keep this page up to date and share more information on the blog as articles around this as news comes up. Stay tuned. Below is a copy of the complete case info.
Also, many of our readers asked quite a few questions around each one their situation, we have published answers for the most commonly asked questions. Check out FAQs on 17 Month STEM OPT Extension Revoked – Status, Issues
We are tracking all the news stores, articles, background, current updates on a page for easy access for everyone. You may check : Latest News and Updates on STEM OPT Extension Rule on this page
What can you do to get White House Attention ? You can sign the OPT STEM Extension Petition
What are your thoughts? How will it impact you ? Any questions ?
- Official Court Website : WATW vs US Dept of Homeland Security
- Official Court Opinions Page : 2015 Court Opinions – Look for 8/12/2015
- LexisNexis Legal News : STEM OPT Extension needs notice, comment
- Courthouse News : DHS to get public take on Tech Student Visas
- IRLI News : Federal Court Strikes down DHS Rule
- Computer World : OPT STEM rule gets Signatures