The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has just released its proposed rule for extending optional practical training for international students working in the U.S. The proposed rule will give international students who study Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) subjects two extra years to stay and work in the U.S., instead of the current 17 months.

 

Similar to the previous rule, the 24-month STEM OPT extension is available only to students with STEM degrees from accredited schools and is only eligible for students who are employed by an E-Verified employer. The previous cap-gap relief continues to be available in the new rule, similar to previous rule enabling students to automatically extend their F1 status and the employment authorization until October 1st, if the H-1B petition on their behalf was filed in a timely manner.

 

In addition to increasing the length of the OPT period to 24 months, the proposed new rule also requires formal mentoring and training plans by employers and includes new wage protections for students and graduates on the program.

 

There will be 30 days of public comment on the draft rule beginning October 19, 2015. Then, the DHS will review the comments and take them into consideration before publishing a final rule.

 

Comments must be received by DHS on or before November 18, 2015. You may submit comments, identified by the DHS docket number to this rulemaking, Docket No. ICEB-2015-0002, to the Federal Docket Management System (FDMS), a government-wide, electronic docket management system at http://www.regulations.gov. Please follow the instructions for submitting comments.