Updated : October 16th, 2016
There has been quite a bit of anxiety among thousands of current and prospective F1 students regarding the 17 Month OPT STEM Extension rule cancellation since August 12th , 2015. We had quite a bit of unofficial information from AILA, prominent attorneys giving us details and status on this, but USCIS/ DHS did not give any official news release on their websites stating that DHS was working on re-issuing the vacated rule by federal court. On October 2nd, 2015 in the SEVIS Stakeholder Webinar, official update to stakeholders was given that USCIS/ DHS is aware of the court ruling and they are working on re-issue of the rule. Also, official rule details are published on Regulatory information official RegInfo.gov Website. We will cover all these details in this article.
What’s the update by DHS/ USCIS? What does it mean?
As you can see in the below screenshot (taken from official SEVIS webinar slides, links in references), it is communicated to SEVIS stake holders that DHS is aware of the court ruling and they are working very hard on it to meet the court deadline on Feb 12th, 2016. What is not clear at the moment from the slides are
- Complete timeline of the rule making process and when they will open for comment period
- Will the comment period be 30 days or 60 days ?
- Any changes in the overall process and how it applies to current students on OPT.
In general rule making process is very complex, we have seen its reality in the making of H4 Visa EAD rule, so we need to be patient. What is relieving from this communication is that DHS is fully on-board with this and they are working hard to meet the court timeline. All the current and prospective students should NOT be worried anymore, it is just a matter of time for this rule to go through.
Where is the rule status tracked? Can I see the rule status and what it is called ?
All the rules that are currently being worked on are tracked on the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Website. All you need to do is go to the RegInfo.gov Dashboard and filter by DHS, you will see the complete list of rules that are being worked on by DHS. If you scroll down to the bottom, you will see the rule. It is called as “Improving and Expanding Training Opportunities for F-1 Nonimmigrant Students with STEM Degrees and Expanding Cap-Gap Relief for All F-1 Students With Pending H-1B Petitions”. Check below screenshot.
What state current status of the rule? Is it a Priority for DHS ?
If you look at above status, we are at Step 4 ( OMB Review of Proposed Rule) of the total 9 steps in the rule making process. You can check Reg Map for full information on various steps. One of the positive point of the proposed rule is that it is tagged as “Economically Significant”, which means that the rule will have an impact of over $100 million USD to the economy in someway and DHS would need to provide more detailed benefits and costs details . From status perspective, you can see that it was received to Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on October 2nd, 2015 and there is no legal deadline stated on it. From priority perspective, it is tagged as “Other Significant”. Rulemaking is a complex process and it can take time, but we do know that DHS is working hard on this and it is in their priority items to avoid jeopardizing the OPT extension of many of current students. We hope it will pass through before the deadline. OMB is currently in the process of reviewing the rule and once that is complete, the proposed rule will be published in Federal register and then open for public comments. We will keep you posted on the updates, stay tuned for updates on the STEM OPT Extension Cancellation Status Updates page. We have also picked up some of the most common questions raised by many on this and created article for your benefit FAQs on OPT STEM Extension Cancellation
What are your thoughts on the rule ? Will DHS be able to do it on time ? Your thoughts ?