24 months stem opt rule published

24 Months STEM OPT Rule Lawsuit Updates – Case Dismissed – April 19, 2017

Raghuram Sukumar OPT 1107 Comments

Get the latest 17 Months STEM OPT Extension updates here. STEM OPT Extension rule  published in April 2008 by President George Bush Administration is Vacated by the Court. Related Articles on STEM OPT:

US District Court – STEM OPT Extension Timeline

  1. Aug 12, 2015 – Federal Court Vacates STEM OPT Extension Rule
  2. Sep 11, 2015 – White House Petition Reaches 100,000 Signatures
  3. Oct 2, 2015 – Rule Making Process ( see below the timeline)
  4. Dec 15, 2015 – Validity of current 17 Months STEM OPT extension  under Review
  5. Dec 22, 2015 – DHS asks the federal county for deadline extension till May 10, 2016
  6. Dec 24, 2015 – Court gave a deadline of Jan 11, 2016 for Wash Teach to respond to DHS.
  7. Jan 11, 2016 – Wash Tech replied asking the court to not grant the extension.
  8. Jan 15, 2016 – DHS responds to WashTech.
  9. Jan 19, 2016 – Waiting for court’s decision. What happens next?
  10. Jan 19, 2016 – Judge Orders Hearing at 3.00 PM EST on Jan 21. 2016
  11. Jan 21, 2016 – There’s no decision from the Judge after the Hearing.
  12. Jan 23, 2016 – Judge’s Extended the Deadline.
  13. Feb 5, 2016 – DHS Submits Final Rule to OMB.
  14. Mar 02, 2016 – OMB clears the rule.
  15. Mar 9, 2016 – STEM OPT Rule Text Published
  16. Mar 10, 2016 – Rule Published to Federal Register
  17. May 10, 2016 – 24 Months Rule becomes effective
  18. May 14, 2016 – District Court Judge dismisses the case as moot.
  19. June 17, 2016 – Wash Tech Filed a new lawsuit against the new 24 Months STEM OPT Rule.
  20. April 19, 2017 – Motion is denied (Court Order). STEM OPT Rule Survives!

What a ride. I hope this is the end.

STEM OPT Rule Making Timeline

  1. Oct 2, 2015 – DHS submits Proposed Rule to OMB for Approval  (Completed)
  2. Oct 14, 2015 – OMB Approves the Proposed Rule ( Completed )
  3. Oct 19, 2015 – Public Commenting on Rule Making Begins ( Completed )
  4. Nov 18, 2015 – Public Comment Period Ends (Completed)
  5. DHS reviews the comments to prepare the Final Rule (Completed)
  6. DHS submits the Final rule to OMB for Approval (Completed)
  7. OMB Reviews and Approves Final Rule (Completed)
  8. DHS Published the final Rule to Federal Register
  9. Date when Rule goes into Effect
  10. Case dismissed

STEM OPT Extension Updates

Here’s the timeline of events till date and progress made by DHS to implement the STEM OPT Extension Rule. There’s so many nervous folks who are expecting this rule to be implemented.

Mar 10, 2016

March 2, 2016

omb approved stem opt rules

 

  • Received Date: 02/05/2016
  • Title: Improving and Expanding Training Opportunities for F-1 Nonimmigrant Students with STEM Degrees and Cap-Gap Relief for All Eligible F-1 Students
  • Agency/Subagency: DHS / USICE
  • Stage: Final Rule
  • Concluded Date: 03/02/2016
  • Economically Significant: Yes
  • Expect DHS to publish to Rule Shortly in the federal register

Feb 5, 2016

  • DHS have submitted the Final Rule to OMB for Review and Approval. (Link)
  • The Rule is now Marked No for Economically Significant.
    • If Economically Significant = 60 Days delayed Implementation Date.
    • If Not Economically Significant = 30 Days Delayed Implementation Date
  • Watch this Video and this Video for more details.
  • I will try to get more details on this.

Jan 23, 2016

Here’s the Judge’s Oder. This just came in. Deadline is Extended.

 

 

Jan 21, 2016

  • Hearing was held today at 3 PM EST
  • No decision announced at the end of the hearing.
  • Judge heard the motion and taken under advisement.
  • In layman’s terms, “I heard you guys, now let me think about this and then issue an order.”

Jan 15, 2015

  • DHS  responds to Washington Tech. Link to Reply.
  • DHS is requesting the court to confirm if the current STEM OPT extension will remain valid.

Jan 12, 2015

Some excerpt from the document that you  MUST Read:

“The Court gave DHS a six month delay to mitigate the effect of the vacatur order and DHS still has not bothered to notify those affected that aliens will not be able to work on OPT extensions after February 12, 2016 or told them what their options will be.”  (Page 14)

When DHS requested the Court stay vacatur, it clearly stated that aliens would not be able to work on OPT extensions after a vacatur and that, without such a stay, such aliens would have to “scramble to depart the United States (Page 15)

Same was explained by Attorney Murali Bashyam in this video on STEM OPT Extension News:

 

Dec 24, 2015 – Deadline Extension

  • DHS have requested Federal Count to extend Feb 12, 2016 deadline to May 10, 2016. ( DHS Federal Court Filing for Extension )
  • Video – What happens after Feb 12, 2016 deadline for students with STEM OPT Extension?
  • The Federal court should now decide if they would grant the extension of 3 months.
  • If an extension is granted ( much needed one), then DHS would have more time to review the comments and finalize the rule.slide

Dec 15, 2015 – Oops, Current STEM OPT – Undecided

  • Dec 9, 2015 (below) we got an update from AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) that current STEM OPT Extension will remain valid after Feb 12, 2016.
  • But, that’s not the case anymore. Here’s the update “no decision has yet been made that STEM optional practical training (OPT) employment authorization documents (EADs) will remain valid after February 12, 2016.” from Murthy.com

Dec 9, 2015 –  Current STEM OPT Extension Remains Valid

  • Nebraska Service Center confirmed to AILA that Current 17 Months STEM OPT Extension will be valid after Feb 12, 2016
  • If you already have STEM OPT Extension approved, it will remain valid beyond Feb 12, 2016
  • If you are eligible to apply for 17 Months STEM OPT Extension, then go ahead and apply for STEM OPT Extension. Now!

Oct 19 to Nov 18, 2015 – Comment Period

  • STEM OPT Proposed Rule Comment Period was between Oct 19 to Nov 18, 2015
  • Over 50,000 Comments were received during the 30 days commenting period.
  • Rule Implementation is not based on Number of Positive vs. Negative Comments

October 16, 2015 – Proposed Rule

Here’s the Actual Proposed Rule  Details – Original Text of the Rule

  • STEM OPT Extension – 17 to 24 months
  • Cap-Gap Relief
  • Employer should be e-Verify Eligible

October 14, 2015 – OMB Approved

OMB Approved the Proposed STEM OPT Extension rule in 12 Days. Here’s the link to RegInfo.Next Step: DHS to publish the Proposed Rule for Public Comments. Stay tuned!

omb approved stem opt proposed rule

 

October 2, 2015 – STEM Rule Making Begins

So, it begins. DHS have started the Rule Making Process for STEM OPT Extension. Watch the Video Below to Learn more about the Rule Making for STEM OPT Extension.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQrK5cjuksQ

October 2, 2015 – Official Update

So, far there’s been no official update from DHS or USCIS or ICE about 17 Months STEM OPT Extension until today. Some form of official confirmation is better than no news right? Finally, there’s an official update from DHS. Refer to the attached screenshot below.What does the following update mean?

  • DHS is working on drafting a rule for STEM OPT Extension
  • As I told you before, Rule Making is a complex process. Be Patient.
  • There’s no timeline available on when this rule will be officially proposed.
  • We don’t know any details about the Rule.

September 16, 2015

Some comments are reported that USCIs is approving EAD only till Feb 12, 2015, instead of 17 Months OPT. Read the comments at Facts and Stats About STEM Optional Practical Training.

The New OPT extensions that are being issued after the court ruling are only valid until Feb 2016. Many of friends who’ve applied for an extension got their EAD’s Valid until Feb 2016. I wasn’t very much bothered about the revoking of OPT extension until now, because I always hoped that this situation would be fixed by feb 2016. But I’m really concerned now.

September 11, 2015

  • White House Petition reached 100,000 Signature and update was delivered for those who signed the petitions.
 August 23, 2015 – What’s Going to Happen Now?

We don’t have any official news about how they are going to handle STEM Optional Practical Training Extension cancelation.Questions remain if DHS will make use of this opportunity to extend the STEM OPT or Post-Completion OPT.

In the meantime, some signatures required to reach 100,000 for White House to respond has slowed Down.

You have to keep up spreading the word about White House Petition. There’s lot more than 100,000 people in OPT period and close to 800,000 international students studying in America now.

August 19, 2015 – DHS Memo

“Currently reviewing the ruling and will issue additional guidance in the “coming weeks on how this ruling impacts our stakeholders”. – DHS Memo

August 18, 2015 – New Appeal

Just when we thought what DHS could do now, Washington Alliance of Technology Workers filed an appeal against Department of Home Land Security on August 18, 2015.

“Notice is hereby given that Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, plaintiff in the above named case, hereby appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from the final judgment entered in this action on the 12th day of August, 2015.”

What does that Mean:

  • Federal Judge had said that 12 Months OPT  is Valid.
  • 17 months OPT Rule is Vacated
  • Giving DHS an option to do Notice and Comment Rule Making process.

But, this appeal could challenge if DHS had the authority to create 17 Months STEM OPT Rule.

August 17, 2015

Here’s the latest STEM OPT Extension Updates for August 17, 2015. We are waiting for an official update from DHS or USCIS about their plan of Action for STEM OPT Extension.

White House will respond if we reach 100,000 Signatures before Sept 13, 2015.

August 13, 2015

Quick Overview about the Federal Court Ruling on STEM OPT Extension. This is the first update (before other copy cat website picked up the news).

Comments

  1. Hi Raghuram,

    Presently i am on regular OPT period of 12 months. I am travelling to INDIA on Nov 26 and i will return on Dec 15. My 12- Month OPT will be done on Jan 12th. Is it a advisable journey to step out of this country, if so should i take the OPT extension card and leave the country. Please let me know the possibilities of any unexpected encounters at the Port of entry. My Itenary is through Dubai and flight is Emirates. I know that you are also in a confusion about answering these sort of questions. I request you to please clarify with your attorney Murali on this.

    I can wait for your answer.

    Thanks,
    Chaitanya Krishna Komaravolu

    1. Author

      You can submit it via Ask Attorney for questions specific to your situation.

      1. Thank you for your help.
        I have seen your video in Youtube.I have forwarded the news in Facebook.
        We need to take more action for pretition.
        Best wishes for international students during the Opt time.

    2. Chaitanya
      Since your regular EAD card is valid till Jan 12th – you will have no issues whatsoever in entering USA in Dec.
      If you plan to extend your trip and wish to enter USA after Jan 12th – then you will need the STEM extension card for entry. You can enter with the extension card after Jan 12th up to Feb 12th (as of now since STEM extension is valid till Feb 12th)

    3. You must have applied for OPT extension by the time you travel to India. Keep copies of all such documents with you. Your returning to the US is for completing the remaining educational training. Technically, there is no issue. But why travel when your OPT is coming to an end in Feb, 2016?

  2. According CMU Office of International Education: “DHS is and has been working on an updated STEM extension rule. The rule has been making its way through a final approval process.”

    1. Author

      Thanks. Until we have official word from DHS, we will be in Dark. Plus, actual contents of the rule will be visible only when published in federal register, which can take over 3 months.

  3. Hi Raghuram,
    Thank you so much for giving much information. Now i am planning to go for Spring 2016. And the OPT Extension rule will be finalized in Feb. Is it a wise decision to go for Spring, with out knowing what will happen?

    If that rule is approved, then Can we do anything else instead of just working of 12 months? Are there any other chances to work in US?

    1. @Rohit – Yes you are right. That is also a sensible solution and the objective can be achieved.
      @Raghuram – you can help the student community here. If you can send out an appeal that whoever has signed it so far – if they tell at least 1 other person and get it signed – the threshold can be hit within days. I’m sure all students planning to come to US or who are in the US are big readers of this blog – you can create the impact!

      1. Author

        I’m including link in every email that is mailed out. I will post more tomorrow as well. 14 more days.

  4. The Whitehouse petition signatures have slowed down to a great extent.Since last week only 7000 signatures have been added. At this speed, we might miss the target of 100000 signatures by September 13 with a big margin. Can we plan something to promote this petition. If we achive the target, we will get a very quick and direct response from The White House. Please give your suggestions.

    1. I don’t think signing the petition will be a strong initiation. Anyone with an email id can sign up, in fact multiple entries from a person is possible.

      1. Please study the petitions portal properly. The current threshold for the white house to give an immediate response is 100000. You can see all the other petitions which crossed the 100000 mark has been given an immediate response by whitehouse. Once we get a detailed response, a lot of things will be clear. Please promote the petition and hope we get 100 k votes before September 13 .

    2. Till now whoever has signed the petition – ask each person to sign it again 🙂 The threshold will be hit within a day!

      1. More sensible option would be, those who have already signed can make at least one of their friend or relative aware of this issue and ask them to sign the petition. This can help reaching target of 100k.

        1. Yes. We received 50 k signatures in the first week. If those people make at least one of their friend or relative aware of this issue and ask them to sign the petition. We will achive the target.

          1. Any suggestion how to spread this idea?? I am trying to get as much signs as possible from my circle.

          2. We need to make a list of FB pages of student communities of all the colleges. Urge them to vote.

            Other good thing to do would be to try and get this petition published on any one of the pages like logical Indian or Humans of New York. I approached the logical Indian but they told me that they need it in the form of a story. Like someone has put in everything to study here in US and all of a sudden his life will be in a big mess if OPT extension is denied.

            Please let me know if anyone has a story. If we get this petition published on such a big page, we will achive our target of 100 k in 2 days.

          3. Author

            Can you connect me to LogicalIndian contact? I can write a story.

          4. @Harshil – can you please provide the link to LogicalIndian contact to Raghu? Raghu is very experienced and he can write a story which can really motivate the students reading it to sign and spread the petition.

          5. That’s great idea. Thanks Raghu for stepping in and helping us out.

            Also sharing petition link in all “local Indian Community FB page” could boost sign up rates.

  5. President’s action will help DHS complete the new rule making process in a much better way. US is known for surprise rule amendments, its better not to depend on OPT extension and plan our career. Either of these two things may surely happen :-
    1) 6 years OPT – Reduces the need for H1B and boosts Masters students to concentrate on startups without bothering much on H1B pick
    2) H1B cap would be increased to minimum 150,000 a year, thereby reducing the stress on OPT students in obtaining H1B within a year.

  6. I am currently on STEM extension which started June 2015 and will expire in Nov 2016. If DHS takes no action, then I assume my OPT will be invalid after Feb 16, 2016. If that is true, how much time am I left with to leave USA or take any other action. I read somewhere that students impacted by this will have 60 days after Feb 16, 2016 to pack and leave. If that is the case, will I be okay if my employer files for an H1 in April 2016, as that would give me CAP-GAP extension/grace period till October, correct?

  7. Hi Raghuram,
    I have got F1 Visa for pursuing MS in international marketing at hult international business school boston. Do you think is it worth to do the above course and could I get a job over there in the related field or should I opt for MS in computer science. I have completed my masters in pharmaceutics in India. I will b flying to boston on September 11th. I am confused whether it’s a good idea or not.
    Hope you would revert ASAP.
    Thank you!!

    1. Author

      Does MS in International AMrketing offer STEM OPT? If so, you can continue with that. If not, I would switch to STEM OPT course (provided DHS extends the Rule).

      1. I don’t think your course comes under the STEM category. In that case you will anyway only qualify for the 12 month OPT. Most management courses do not come under the STEM category.

        1. STEM should be really broken into applied and pure subjects. Because with the current trend so many Indians are applying for computer science/engineering jobs that the whole STEM initiative is skewed.
          The entire H1-B program is invested by Indian IT laborers and the true nature of STEM has been lost. A person with a degree in science or math has no chance when it comes to competing with these cheap laborers.
          So there should be a quota system imposed on Indians who are applying for H1-B visa. Just like the one that is in place for Green Card. If you are Indian or Chinese your priority dates are vastly different from that of a person coming from say Pakistan ( pun intended )

          1. Author

            Here’s my counter argument.

            For U.S. Elections, each state have certian number of Congress Members.
            Total count is determined by Population of the State. California has 53 and Colorado has 7.

            When population is high in China and India, doesn’t it make sense to allocate more numbers for those countries?

  8. I see we’ve crossed the 100,000 signature benchmark already now. I hope something good comes out of this. Any news?

  9. Every year lot of students come here pay university fees. Got jobs, pay taxes, loose lifes when there are gun points. Extending opt will result in National Risk 🙂 by these students.

  10. Hey Raghu

    These people who are getting their EAD cards valid till Feb, have they contacted you directly? Is it possible for them to maybe show that their EAD cards on your website or your youtube channel ? I am not doubting your statement but it would just feel more believable if we actually hear it from the people who have got such EADs.

    1. I frankly say I dont believe this people. Not a single one will be able to prove this right because the fact is USCIS is stll issuing 17 month cards.

      The true news is that some schools have started issuing I20 till February 12. In this case the EAD card will be issued till February 12.

      Hope DHS brings a new rule soon to start public commenting. With every passing day, the worries are increasing.

    2. Author

      Refer to my replies on other comments. It doesn’t really matter if EAD card is valid for 7 months or 17 months. For STEM OPT folks, this is your first real experience dealing with USCIS. I have seen thousands of comments and cases with USCIS. I have seen USCIS approve petitions with validity for few days to initial OPT approval for 2 years instead of 12 months.

      1. So is there any kind of proof or maybe a link to the comments of people who are saying they got their stem approved upto february 12th?

        1. Author

          There one comment here for approval till February 26 when I20 is valid till 2017.

  11. As of now there is no official update from the USCIS or anyone regarding the STEM extension situation. Is this a bad sign? Because as per my knowledge it takes about 3months to come out with a new rule. That means the DHS needs to take some action by next month. But still no update.

    1. Hopefully they should come out with a proposal in a couple of weeks time. All we can do is just wait and watch the drama unfold.

      1. Settling illegals and sending back engineering graduates with Masters Degrees…..I still don’t get it !

          1. Author

            I thought about this (similar) to ImmigrationVoice doing it for October Visa Bulleting Fiasco. It was such a hard effort to get 100,000 signatures.
            Asking people to spend $30? It’s going to be tough.

      2. It appears that Raghu RAM Sukumar is silent now a days. He is the one who created panic among the MS students in USA and now he is simply sitting and watching the frustration of MS students.
        Please do not belive :
        Raghu RAM Sukumar
        Ajay Cherukuri
        Red bus
        Belive DHS updates and decide for your Ph.D.

        1. Author

          @Dude – I didn’t create the panic. It was Federal Court. With or without my blog, STEM OPT is vacated. Check other threads and Q&A section where I’m responding to questions.

          – When I first wrote and published this news, everyone said it’s fake. Now no one is talking.
          – Then readers complained for writing about the “Impact” of this rule. Now, everyone is beginning to panic. I understand that. When they don’t respond, its tough.
          – Now, Folks ask asking me to write about Plan B. Check the thread in Q&A section.
          – Now, it’s my fault for creating the panic.

          Here’s the difference: I have seen how immigration process. You are here for last 2 or 3 years. I have seen each and every stage of what you are going through and what’s ahead and laws work. It’s slow and painful.

          Folks weren’t prepared to hear the truth on Day 1, after I published the news. Now, there’s another bigger battle with October Visa Bulletin.
          Lawsuit was filed yesterday.

          It’s tough and I don’t think it’s time to look for Plan B. Stay Put.

    2. I think October 2-3rd week should be a personal deadline for us. after that we should start looking at other options

  12. is anyone have access to the news of STEM OPT Developments, Recent CFGI Successes Punctuate Busy Summer

  13. I believe Raghuram is simply creating panic among students with his funny videos. Acting like someone who knows everything about it. I would recommend everyone to just be patient and not believe his bogus plan A and plan B news. Nonsense!

  14. I have been listening to the SEVIS webinar today and in a part of the webinar, it was stated that “DHS is aware of the court’s ruling, and we are working on a draft rulemaking. We are working aggressively to
    meet the court’s deadlines.”
    It means that they are working on the rule making process but it is the question that will they make it before the deadline and will they announce something in the due course.

    Hoping for the best that DHS comes out with some announcement soon.

    1. Do t not dishortened about OPT.OPT remain asusual but takes some more time. Concentrate on your studies and work.
      My sincere request is do not panic by reading baseless articles written by some x y z. eg.OPT cancelled,shocking news, Ban OPT.

      So far no Indian student ( except wards of politicians and business People) came back from US after MS or MBA.
      If you have talent no country will be ready to loose you. So be happy, Mr.Obama will take care of you.

      Do not believe the so called crazy Indian lawyers abroad.

  15. Hi Raghu,

    If DHS issues a new rule concerning OPT extension, what are the hurdles it may face before the rule finally coming into effect?

  16. Common people, don’t blame Raghu.
    He is doing a fantastic job.

    we just have to prepare mentally and have a backup plan.
    Just in case, if DHS is not able to set right the things by Feb 12th.

    1. There is no point to become panic and behave like kids.
      Be a Man! 🙂

      Raghu, we would really want you to write a article on back up plan for all the impacted students.

      Most of the people, are planning to join in one of 10 colleges in USA, which are offering CPT from Day1.

      if this mess is not taken care by DHS, this 10 colleges which are not reputed that much will be flooded by at least 30,000 applications by feb.(since 50K are impacted by feb 12th)

      and 75,000 applications by fall 2016(since 130K are impacted — who are in OPT now)

      so we really need your guidance on backup plan, raghu !

      1. Author

        @NKP – It’s not yet time to panic. I strongly belive that DHS will take care of this before time runs out.

      2. Dude NKP

        Damn Indians like you are the ones who are ruining everything for the rest of the international student community!
        CPT is for curriculum practical training. The colleges that gives CPT from day 1 are mostly bogus colleges that exploit the system and the people! Stay away from them and do not condone with there activities. Nut cases like you are ruining everything and the US government is making tighter and tighter laws because of this!

        At least marry a US citizen it is better than doing illegal things dude. Grow up, and learn from a Pakistani guy like me.

  17. Hi raghu, can you provide the source of the image you posted today. I’m following DHS.gov, uscis.gov, ICE.gov daily and i can’t see any news release or blog post on this. If you can provide the source of the image that would be great. Neither I didn’t find a response from petitons.whitehouse.gov

  18. Hi Raghu

    I have applied initial opt on July 1 st 2015 , it’s been 96 days so far still my case is recieved status,, I have called uscis they raised a reference number but I got a default mail saying my case is currently adjudicated and I need to wait 45 days . I have called to raise an expedite request under financial loss indicating about my father health condition in india ,, actually he suffered severe heart stroke and lost his job and I need to look after the family , my question if the expedite is rejected will it have impact on my case ,, can you suggest me some idea how to proceed further

    1. if your expedited request is rejected. It will not have impact on your case.

      Can we know, why they have adjusted your case and asking for 45 more days to process?

      if the USICS has made mistake and they are asking more than 120 days to process your stem opt extension ,then you can also expedite your case, saying the USICS has made mistake and your case will be expited.

      we need one last help from your end.. once you get EAD, we want you to confirm , if the valid date mentioned on your EAD is feb 12th 2016 or more than that.

      Let me know, if you have any questions on the expedite process.

  19. Great Job Raghu sir. This is a great info. for those who are waiting….

  20. “Expanding Cap-Gap Relief for All F-1 Students With Pending H-1B Petitions”

    Hey Raghu –> Quick question on this statement in this new rule.

    Dose this mean that all F1 students,who apply for H1B will not fall under lottery ?
    Cap gap relief will be given to all F1 students — Like it is given for all people who work for non profit organizations?

        1. Author

          IT says impact is $100 million or more. But, we need more than that. What’s the impact on the timeline. Will OMB review is faster than 30 days time?

    1. Hi Raghu..It is a great news. So, in the new rule, will it be 17 month OPT extensions or they will extend the rule for more time as per Obama’s immigration policy?

      1. Author

        We have no info at this point. I’m thinking we will know when rule is published for public comment.

    2. Incorrect, no relief will be given to non immigrants working in non profit organizations. Then all the Indian 3rd party IT shops will start their own non profit organizations. ( this comes from a true Pakistani guy )
      The non profit deals is where the center or organization is related to a not for profit research university!

  21. So, lets say if the DHS is able to nail this and even the public supports increasing extension to 29 mnths, my question is would it be for new stem opt applicants or would it apply people already on STEm extension as well

    1. Dude marry a US citizen, in 4 moths you get the green card. No worries about H1-B visa or the STEM OPT.
      Always use the easy way why waste time on the harder method!

  22. First of all, thank you Raghu!! Your efforts here are phenomenal! Extremely glad that the process has started somewhere!!

      1. Raghu when do you think the rule will come into federal register for public commenting….will it come early as the flag for economically significant is raised to Yes.

  23. Hi Raghu,
    you did a good job. one thing i could not understand is, if the rule making is delayed till the end of feb2016,
    does it mean that the rule can’t be made anymore in future. or will they show an alternative rule.

    Ok, if the rule making is delayed, will it effect only for F1 students whose status expire by feb 2016 or all the F1 students who are already in OPT.

    will it effect the F1 students whose status expire in may 2017. if so, what best these students can do, going for cpt or searching for h1b sponsorer

    thank you raghu

    1. Author

      I don’t think I know the answer for your questions. Let’s hope it will be done by then 🙂

  24. Hi, Raghu. First of all, thanks very much for putting so much efforts in keeping us updated about the extension. I am currently in OPT now and my opt expired in Jan 12th. Should I wait for new rules to apply for extension? Or, if I apply it right now, is the expiration date on my new EAD card gonna be just Feb 12th, which is the last day of current rule’s validation?
    I would appreciate your answer. Thanks.

  25. Here is our Scenario:
    Opt expires Jan 5th. Ready to apply opt extension. I see DHS making rule. I also see people getting
    opt extension till feb 12th. If we apply for ext now and get till feb 12th and later DHS makes a rule for 17 months how will they handle the scenario?
    Any advice on waiting till november to apply for extension or do you recommond to apply it right away?
    thanks

  26. This is a positive sign by DHS. But even then finishing by February looks highly unlikely. Lets do a hypothetical best case analysis :

    Lets say OMB review takes 30 days – we are into Nov 2. Lets say by Nov 10th the rule is open for public comment. Assuming a comment period of 60 days for an economically significant rule – we are into January 10th.

    So after this, DHS has to respond to the comments – I’m assuming due to the sheer amount of comments expected its going to take some time. Then again it must go to OMB for final review which can take atleast 1 month.

    Looking at all this, its highly impossible to hit the Feb 12 deadline. Maybe it will go into effect after May 2016 if things are positive – but people will go out of status as of Feb 13th 2016 – at least for a short frame of time.

    1. The commenting period can be 30 days for some cases and even if it is 60 days, I think DHS wont take a month to reply to comments. Worst come worst if students are going out of status for 3 months then DHS can surely ask for extension from court. DHS was expected to bring the rule by Oct 15 but the did it early on Oct 2 which means that they are fully aware of the consequences.

      Lets all be prepared for the commenting period to begin. We should be sending ample of positive comments so that it becomes easy for DHS to bring the final rule.

  27. How can we see the proposed rule? I wanted to know if it say 17-month or longer. Thanks.

  28. Awkward…My OPT expiration day is exactly Feb 13, 2016. There is no point for me to apply for Extension since USCIS is issuing EAD ends on Feb 12, 2016 now ??? I should just keep endless waiting or follow the timeline to apply for 17 month extension, help please

    1. Your whole assumption is wrong. There is a very high chance that by Feb 12 2016 your EAD card may be processed for 17 months and then the court may pass an interim rule saying whoever with valid card can work. You will regret it then if you don’t apply in a timely manner.

  29. Hey Guys,
    My friends sent an email to USCIS asking about case where OPT extension is being granted till 12 Feb. USCIS replied that they are issuing 17 month extension as of now. So don’t worry!!

    1. Very old news….we already in a mess because of this statement….the rule needs to go in public commenting before Oct 15….he said 30 more days on Oct 7….the timeline will be missed by a big margin….

  30. Hi Raghuram,
    I am on regular OPT now, it would expire in Feb. My current visa is expired. I wanna travel to Europe this December, and renew my visa there. I have a full time job in US. Is it risky?

    Thank you for your time! I’m looking forward to your reply

  31. In reginfo.gov, this rule has moved from regulator review section to unified agenda section. Is this mean the OEA review complete?

  32. I see that OMB approved the proposal on Oct 14 2015. What is the next step from here?

  33. Author

    As you can see we have a geat news today.

    OMB approved the Proposed rule.

    Next Step: Wait for DHS to publish the Proposed rule for Public Commenting.

    When it’s posted for comment, we should know the actual details of the Rule (if they are expanding and extending or stays the same).

  34. Hi Raghu
    I have a question here – its great that DHS, OMB and all are working on getting the new rule in place. Great that it will even open for comments soon.
    In the meantime we must not forget that WashTech has appealed the district courts decision. Now suppose the Appeals court decides to hear this case – will there be a stay on the new rulemaking process? And if there is a stay – that means STEM extensions become invalid starting February till the Appeals court hands out a decision – correct?

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  36. Author

    News – STEM OPT extension increased to 24 months in Proposed rule.

    This page is updated to reflect the details. Stay tuned for more details.

    1. would those currently on STEM OPT (valid beyond Feb 2016) be able to get an extension from 17 to 24 months as well?

    2. Hi Sukumar,

      Thank you very much for updating the news! It is a great news for all STEM students!

      I’m currently in the 17-month extension and my EAD card will expire in December 2016. If the new rule can be finally approved by law, does it means I can apply for another 7 months when my current EAD close to expire?

    3. Does that 24 Month Extension will be effective for students who are currently in STEM Extension ? Will they have 7 months extended ?

    4. Well this is certainly good news, do we know how long the public comment period will be is it 30 or 60 days?

    5. Hi Raghuram,

      I am currently on 17-month OPT extension that started on May 2015 and is valid till Oct 2016.

      Do you think this new rule will add 7 months additional OPT period to my alreading existing 17-month OPT extension?

      Regards,
      Rohit

    6. Hi raghu,

      first a big thanks to all you’re efforts.

      Now my question.

      In order for one who is already in stem opt extension to apply for the additional 7 month extension.

      — He must do so 120 days before his opt extension expires — NO problem for me.
      — He must also be MENTOR AND TRAINING PROGRAM — what in GODS name is that ?

    7. @Raghu you should also point this out on your website

      The new rule will allow TWO STEM EXTENSIONS if someone come here for Bachelors.
      1 OPT + 2 years in Bachelors then if he enrolls for Masters then 1 OPT + 2 years extension

      On Page 9 of ruling this is said “The proposal would increase the OPT extension period for STEM OPT students from the 2008 IFR’s 17 months to 24 months. The proposal would also make F-1 students who subsequently enroll in a new academic program and earn another qualifying STEM degree at a higher
      educational level eligible for one additional 24-month STEM OPT extension.”

  37. Hi Raghu,

    I just have one question over the opt extension to 24 months. I am already on 17 month extension for now until November 2017. So will I be eligible for applying 7 more months of OPT again if the 24 months OPT extension is approved by the government

    1. Here is the good news for current STEM people on page 39

      ‘As a transitional measure, DHS is also proposing to allow a subset of students
      already on a 17-month extension to take advantage of the proposed 24-month program,
      consistent with the requirements set forth in this proposed rule. Qualifying students
      would be able to request the balance of the modified extension up to 120 days before the
      end of the student’s 17-month period. Such requesting students would have to meet all
      requirements of the new STEM OPT extension proposal, including submission of the
      Mentoring and Training Plan described below.
      With respect to applications for STEM OPT extension currently pending before
      DHS or submitted prior to the effective date of any final rule, DHS intends to adjudicate
      40
      the application consistent with the regulations that existed at the time the application was
      submitted (i.e., such applications, if approved, would result in a 17-month extension).
      Following the effective date of a final rule with a different STEM OPT extension
      duration, a student would then be able to request the balance of the modified extension up
      to 120 days before the end of the student’s 17-month period, provided the student meets
      all requirements of the new STEM OPT extension proposal, including submission of the
      Mentoring and Training Plan. In the alternative, a student with a pending application for
      a 17-month extension may also choose to withdraw that application and file a new
      application for the proposed 24-month STEM OPT extension.
      DHS is making every effort to have a final rule take effect prior to February 13,
      2016, when the stay on the vacatur of the 2008 IFR is currently set to expire. In the
      event, however, that a final rule resulting from this rulemaking does not take effect before
      the vacatur of the 2008 IFR, DHS will lack clear regulatory authority to grant pending
      applications for STEM OPT extensions. In that case, DHS will evaluate options to
      address pending applications, such as returning such applications and requiring re-filing
      upon completion of a final rule. DHS seeks comments on these and other options for
      addressing pending applications if a final rule is not in place prior to the court’s vacatur,
      including comments on the harm that such a gap may cause. ‘

    2. for current STEM people on page 39

      ‘As a transitional measure, DHS is also proposing to allow a subset of students
      already on a 17-month extension to take advantage of the proposed 24-month program,
      consistent with the requirements set forth in this proposed rule. Qualifying students
      would be able to request the balance of the modified extension up to 120 days before the
      end of the student’s 17-month period. Such requesting students would have to meet all
      requirements of the new STEM OPT extension proposal, including submission of the
      Mentoring and Training Plan described below.

    3. Hello,

      This answer is in response to Sg’s comment. If you are already on 17 month extension, 120 days prior to your extension being expired you are eligible to re-apply to DHS for the remainder seven months. This is included in the new proposed rule. However I have a question as well – It says your OPT is valid till Nov -2017 , however I thought that USCIS is only issuing extension till Feb -2016. I need to know because I am coming close to my 12 month OPT-deadline and am procrastinating applying for an extension in the wake of the thought of the new rule being proposed and the fact that if I apply now extension will only be granted till Feb -2016. Please let me know what you guys think

      1. Author

        Only few folks reported STEM OPT being issued only till Feb 2016. If they ask to pay additional fee for $380 to get 7 more monhts, that’s tough. But, go ahead and apply for STEM Extension.

        1. I got my STEM OPT Extension card yesterday. USCIS extended it for 17 months which is until the mid of 2017, not until Feb 2016. My 12 months OPT is going to be expired on Jan 2016.

          thanks.

  38. Hi, I’m currently on OPT stem extension and it will expire in January end 2016. Will I be benefited by this rule change, will i be able to request for additional 7 months extension?

    1. Author

      Since, your Extension expires in Jan 2016, you have to soirt out how this rules impacts you and what you can do to stay in status if rule is implemented on Feb 13.

  39. Any idea the Training and Mentoring plan should include?

    It would be great if some samples, templates can be provided.

    Thanks!

  40. If someone had obtained a Masters and then a PhD (both from US), would that make one eligible for having 2 x 24 months of OPT-STEM ? (one for the masters degree achieved and one for the PhD).

    I am on STEM OPT now, and had transitioned to PhD directly after masters. Could I get 7 months extension to current STEM OPT, and use the 24 months extension from previous masters degree?

    1. No you can not get two STEM opt extension,

      STEM OPT extension is valid only for one time use. even if you had done bachelors in USA , you can only apply for STEM OPT once.

      Furthermore MS and PhD are at same level (graduate) so you will get 1 year opt + 24 months (extension)
      after the new rule

      1. I am sorry please read this on Page 10
        ” The proposal would increase the OPT extension period for STEM OPT students from the 2008 IFR’s 17 months to 24 months. The proposal would also make F-1 students who subsequently enroll in a new academic program and earn another qualifying STEM degree at a higher educational level eligible for one additional 24-month STEM OPT extension. ”

        so you need to enroll in a high education level. I believe MS and PhD are at same level though.

      1. Thanks, Raghu.
        On page 11, it states:
        “Previously Obtained STEM Degrees. The proposal would permit an F-1 student
        participating in post-completion OPT to use a prior eligible STEM degree from a
        U.S. institution of higher education as a basis to apply for a STEM OPT
        extension, as long as the student’s most recent degree was also received from an
        accredited educational institution.”

        So, again: I am on STEM OPT now, and had transitioned to PhD directly after masters. Could I get 7 months extension to current STEM OPT, and use the 24 months extension based on the previous masters degree? (Are MS and PhD at same level or at different levels?)

        1. Author

          MS and PhD are higher level. But, you would have to complete PhD right?

          1. well, if i have completed PhD and am on STEM OPT from that PhD, can I now use another STEM OPT from my MS once this one from my PhD gets over?

            Since the document says: “Previously Obtained STEM Degrees. The proposal would permit an F-1 student
            participating in post-completion OPT to use a prior eligible STEM degree from a U.S. institution of higher education as a basis to apply for a STEM OPT extension, as long as the student’s most recent degree was also received from an accredited educational institution.”

      2. I am not sure why you think it is an interesting question.
        Arent’ MS and PhD are at same level (Graduate)? Why will you be given two STEM extensions ?

  41. Hi Raghu,

    My STEM extension ends Nov 3, 2015. Is there any way for me to extend my stay/ I am well within the 120 day period, and if I understand the language correctly, this renders me ineligible.

    Thank you

      1. Raghu I have a question….So Taking the 120 days time consideration, if the rule comes into effect on February 19….will we go out of status from Feb 13 to Feb 19?

        1. You will enter 60 day grace period.There are a couple of scenarios :
          1. If rule is activated by Mar 1 and if you have applied for your extension/got approved extension, you may work again from Mar 1
          2. If rule is activates by say Apr 2 and if you have filed for H1/applied for extension/got approved extension you can work from Apr 2
          3. If fate has it and if the rule does not come into effect say till Apr 12, your 60 day grace period also ends. In this case I am not sure what happens. You will have to leave the country and if you already have an approved extension you may re enter once the rule is activated. If however you don’t have an approved extension, then you leave the country and its game over.

          This is my opinion and not legal advice

          1. Hi Raghu….a question for you to ask attorney Murali….if Feb 12 deadline is missed by 5 days or 10 days….if students go out of status for these days….can they come back in OPT status once the rule comes into existence…

  42. @Raghu you should also point this out on your website

    The new rule will allow TWO STEM EXTENSIONS if someone come here for Bachelors.
    1 OPT + 2 years in Bachelors then if he enrolls for Masters then 1 OPT + 2 years extension

    On Page 9 of ruling this is said “The proposal would increase the OPT extension period for STEM OPT students from the 2008 IFR’s 17 months to 24 months. The proposal would also make F-1 students who subsequently enroll in a new academic program and earn another qualifying STEM degree at a higher
    educational level eligible for one additional 24-month STEM OPT extension.”

  43. Hi Raghu,

    From your video series on new STEM extension rule, what I understand is , it will make more difficult for a student to find a employer. Because of the whole reporting process and inspection process of USCIS/DHS/ICE (correct me if I am wrong) and we all know, how the present system works.

    What do you think, how this will be handled and how extent employer might think on hiring STEM students.

    Thanks.

    1. Author

      I said the same during the interview.

      It’s hard to find an employer now with H1B sponsorship. Now, they have to hire, maintain documents knowing that there could be ICE site visits.

      Why would someone willing put themselves in harms way? If there is violation, it may affect the other applications in future.

      17 months to 24 months – Yay!
      Second STEM Extension – Yay!
      Cap-Gap – Yay!
      Employer wanting to Hire STEM OPT Worker – Nah!

      Let’s see what happens.

  44. I want to vote issue of the STEM OPT Extension up to 24 months. I hope the international student can stay In U.S. As long as 24 months for their academic experiences.

  45. I am having doubt that what about MBA STUDENTS if this rule is approved.No one cares about grads.

  46. Hi Raghu,
    Thanks for the great video. It is very helpful…
    I have one question which is in the minds of several students who want to work for startups or small companies. Could you please ask this to the attorney?
    Will I need to be working in an e-verified employer only at the time of applying for the STEM extension (be it 17 months or the new 24 months)? Once my STEM OPT is approved, can i switch over to a startup which is not e-verified? Can this affect any future immigration prospects with regards to H1Bs or green cards?

    1. Author

      Everify is mandatory for STEM OPT Extension for the duration of 24 months.

      1. Thanks Raghu. But my question is slightly different: Say a student was working in an e-verified company and got the 24 month STEM extension. Later he wants to switch to a startup which is not e-verified. Will he NOT be allowed to work for the startup during the entire 24 month period?

        1. No you cant work in the company which is not E verified during your STEM extension period even though you got approved for your STEM extension, You will need to notify when you change your employer where you have to provide the details(i.e E verified ID#) of your next company if its not E verified USCIS will not approve your request to change the employer.
          Trust me i have seen people facing the same problem…:)

      2. Hi Raghu,

        I am having doubt that what about MBA STUDENTS if this rule is approved.No one cares about MBA grads.Is there any concerns on Mba graduates to avail this opt extension?
        Thanks in advance

        1. Author

          Unfortunately MBA grads are not included for STEM OPT Extension. This is proposed Rule and this may change. Make sure you comment based on Tips listed on Video #5.

  47. Hey Raghu,

    1. I work for a small company, could ypu tell me my best strategy to worrk on the training docs and plans?

    2. Let’s say, I complete my OPT (In July 2016), and if I am not granted a STEM extension, how many days can I be unemployed, under the new rule?

    Thanks for all the help.

    1. Author

      If you don’t get OPT Extension, you have 60 days grace period of OPT.

  48. Hello Raghu,

    I have a quick Question.

    If my OPT is expiring on June 10’2016 (17 months extension). What will be the status, will it get extended for 7 more months or??

    Appreciate quick clarification.

    Regards
    -Pradeep

      1. Hey Raghuram,
        Thanks for providing such a great guidance and supportive information for all concerned F1 students here. It is clear on how to apply for 7 more months of extension for current students on stem extension. But how will the Mentoring and training requirement work for current students on stem extension as many of us might have already spent an year on STEM OPT. Does it apply to current STEM extension students? if it applies how do we provide the proof of Mentoring and training plan?

        1. Author

          When the rule becomes effective, I think the Mentor and Training applies for those who are applying for the extension of 7 months. Refer to the video from YouTube Channel.

  49. Hello Raghu,

    I had this question with regards to 180 days period during which a student could continue to work even when the first OPT expires and his/her application is pending with all proper documents submitted and accepted by USCIS.
    So based on that, my question is, if a candidate is on 17 months STEM Extension from now itself and would have to apply for the rest of the 7 months extension at the end of 17 months, can he/she be continue to work for 180 days after the expiration of 17 months STEM provided his/her application for 7 months extension at USCIS is accepted and pending with all necessary documents.

    Appreciate your info.

    Thanks
    Krishna

    1. You cant legally work, when your application is pending with USCIS. But can legally stay in USA.
      we can resume to start work only once the EAD card is received from USCIS.

    2. Author

      You are asking for Cap-Gap for OPT application 🙂

      Here’s my understanding based on H4 EAD.

      You can’t work if EAD is expired and EAD application is pending. I would believe same applies to STEM OPT. but, when you write your comment, make sure to ask this and have them add a provision, so there’s no break in work. Theor counter argument will be you have 120 days to apply 🙂

  50. Hello Raghu,

    My OPT extension is expiring in less than 2 months. It says ‘120 days prior to your extension being expired you are eligible to re-apply’ to get 7 more months. What are my options?

    Thanks

    1. Author

      This is a proposed rule. It will take until Dec to make this rule final.
      Watch the Timeline Video to learn more. You have to find other options to stay in USA till this rule becomes effective.

    2. Author

      It’s tough. You have to find a way to stay in Status (legally). I’m sure you want to apply for H1 next year with your current job right?

  51. Raghu,

    Can’t we see the comments made by other people ?

    Is it only USCIS can see a comments made ?

      1. Hi Raghu, I have a question.
        The new proposed rule suggests, Under the current rules governing the OPT program, international students in all fields of study get a 12-month work authorization period, while students in the STEM fields can get a 17-month extension. The proposed new rule would replace the 17-month extension for STEM students with a 24-month extension. It would also make international students who earn a second STEM degree at a higher level eligible for a second 24-month extension. The proposed rule requires formal mentoring and training programs on the part of employers and adds new wage-related requirements. Only students from accredited institutions would be eligible for the extension.

        I have a M.S. and PhD degree from USA. I just started my OPT. So can i be eligible for two 24 month extension? Can you please explain if you have any thoughts in this.
        I will really appreciate.
        Dhaval

  52. What does exactly 120 days before the end of the student’s 17month period means? What if my opt extension is expiring on 2nd feb and the new rule is implemented on 20th february. Will i be able to benefit in that case..

    “As a transitional measure, DHS is also proposing to allow a subset of students
    already on a 17-month extension to take advantage of the proposed 24-month program,
    consistent with the requirements set forth in this proposed rule. Qualifying students
    would be able to request the balance of the modified extension up to 120 days before the
    end of the student’s 17-month period”

  53. Hi Raghu,

    Many thanks for posting these great resources. I have 2 questions:

    I am working on OPT stem extension in US and already got my EAD card back in Sept which says the end date is in Jan 2017.

    1) Does the vacation of OPT stem extension affect me
    2) If the rule doesn’t go into effect by Feb 12, do I need to stop working or deport the country ?

    1. Hi, I have an urgent query. Please help me out.
      Do certificate programs in computer science count in the STEM Opt extension, i know we are allowed the usual 12 month opt, but is the extension valid for us?

    2. Hi, I have an urgent query. Please help me out.
      Do certificate programs in computer science count in the STEM Opt extension, i know we are allowed the usual 12 month opt, but is the extension valid for us?

      1. Author

        Certificate programs don’t give F1 Visa. How can you get STEM OPT? Am I wrong?

        1. I can’t comment for every university, but the certificate programs from University of California Santa Clara extension center do make you eligible for F1 and also for one year OPT, but no OPT extension.

        2. Hi Raghu,
          Thanks for your reply. Certificate programs do give f1 visa, im on a f1 visa for certificate program in systems analysis at UCLA extension. We are even allowed one year otp after the course.
          But my only doubt was whether we can have the otp extension. I did quite a research but couldn’t find an answer anywhere.

          1. Author

            Ah UCLA Ext. I don’t know if you are allowed EXtrnsion. Let me know when you find th answer.

          2. Author

            Ah UCLA Ext. I don’t know if you are allowed EXtrnsion. Let me know when you find th answer.

          3. As of now there is no OPT extension policy for certificate programs, I know a guy who is returning back after completing one year of OPT. In case you are talking about the new rule proposed, then I don’t know. However, it is highly unlikely because STEM extension is only for people with higher degree in STEM fields, so certificate programs don’t qualify. This is just my guess.

  54. What if I am approved for 17 month extension as per the old rule? Will that be invalid after the new rule is published? What if I do not wish to get 7 months extra as per the new rule? Can I work on the previous 17 month extension OR will compulsorily have to re-apply as per the new rule.

    I do see that people with pending application have to reapply, what about those with approved extensions? DO they need to apply again as well?

  55. Can we suggest to concurrently review the comments by DHS?

    So that we can meet the deadline of feb 12th

      1. After 30 days of comment period in how many days maximum or minimum can they declare the rule so as to meet the deadline of 12th Feb ?

  56. What exactly do they mean by accredited schools.When I tried to search for accredited masters program in Industrial engineering,there were very few Master’s programs which were accredited by ABET.Can you help me in this regard

      1. Now according to the new OPT rules they have mentioned that we must study in accredited colleges only,only then we can apply for OPT.My question is the particular program we study should be accredited or the school or the whole university ? I am kind of confused about this

        1. Author

          You can post the same question as comment in the rule making process. I think its the university.

  57. Hi Raghuram,
    I am an MBA aspirant from India .I have a query regarding OPT for MBA students .I have read so far that post the completion of MBA we are allowed to work for one year and if prior to MBA our degree(bachelor’s) was in STEM that is engineering we are allowed to extend the OPT for 1 more year .Is this rule correct?Please respond if you have some time .
    Thanks in advance
    Abhishek

    1. Author

      OPT for MBA – 1 year – Correct STEM Extension for Prior Degree with STEM – Only if prior degree is from USA.

    1. Author

      I don’t think so. But, you can ask that to be included in the comments.

  58. I was reading through different news posts and the comments in it. Looks like the citizens are not happy with this proposal. So I am concerned if DHS decides not to pass this or if they get blocked by the govt or Congress or anyone else. Everyone is saying that the positive comments are being given by International Students and that they should not even be allowed to comment

    1. Number of positive or negative comments do not matter. DHS has specifically asked for comments for certain paragraphs in the proposed rule. You should comment/suggest only for that part. Also, your comments/suggestion must be backed by significant data or logical explanation. Simply stating ‘I thank DHS for this rule’ or ‘I support this rule’ or ‘This rule will benefit the US’ will make no difference. Also, simply stating that ‘I do not support this rule will make no difference.’ I urge people to go through the rule and understand what the DHS has proposed. They have specifically explained how the comments must be made.

    2. Author

      I have serious concerns about the proposal.

      Students just want STEM OPT Extension. they have no idea about the “new provisions” and its impact. ICE site visits are not joke, plus training and mentor plan, it not going to be easy. Do you think a manager is going to take added burden to put their name on the line?

      But, this is what we have now and if it doesn’t change, STEM OPt students have to live with that.

      1. It shall not be a concern for students who actually come to pursue their passion and not like majority of foreigners who simply join any XYZ university ( be it fake) and find a loophole to find a job through contractors and somehow stay in this country. If you are from Harvard, Stanford, MIT or any other legit school in general, then whether DHS representative comes or even Obama comes, it will not be an issue atoll.
        Thanks

        1. Hi Raghu,

          The negative comments are rising by leaps and bounds since last week. Most of the students don’t know how to view the existing comments in the docket folder of regulations.gov . Some of them are not aware about the voting procedure. Can you please make a video regarding these. Those who are commenting are just writing one line comments which will be ignored.
          Whereas the negative comments are full of informative data. If the current trend continues, the docket will be full of negative comments. Please help.

  59. I had a question regarding training and mentorship program. I am a CS graduate currently on 1st year OPT. I am working as Head of Technology at a firm. Since I am the head of technology my training is majorly in Management and Business Skills and COO is involved in training me on those aspects. However it is not in CS as i am good with programming that is why i was offered the position. Will this qualify me for OPT extension

  60. Comment now on OPT Extension New Rule- All students in USA

    https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/10/19/2015-26395/improving-and-expanding-training-opportunities-for-f-1-nonimmigrant-students-with-stem-degrees-and#open-comment

    Most of the comments from supporters are not elaborative and seems to be single liner. 50000 OPT students will be going back, if this is not done properly. Why they have not posted a single comment ? This lethargy will lead to heavy loss. Hence, please submit your comments seriously with data points. See my comments posted below:
    •US needs a larger tech-savvy workforce to maximize economic growth
    •400,000 stem students from 200,000 by 2015 (Doubling of STEM graduates)
    •At rate of $200000.00 per student for 2 year degree with tuition and graduation fees, staying expenses and other education revenue the US is receiving ( Total $80000000000.00) will go other countries with OPT system.
    •US Universities and colleges will be badly affected if the OPT Stem extension is not retained and expanded to 24 months.
    • Most of the US Universities and colleges will shutting their doors if the OPT extension is not given, because student will choose other countries for higher education
    •Students will contribute to the growth of US Economy by paying the Taxes on their employment ( 3 Years x $3000 per year x 400000 students= Total $ 3600000000.00).
    •Total Benefit to US Economy Benefit in the range of $ 83600000000 for 5 years
    •Students will contribute to the growth of US Economy by innovation and research in their field of study (Example Solar Energy, Medical Research)
    •Best practices from employers/industries can be reached to the Universities
    •Without practical training the education for 3 years will not prove to be beneficial to the students (Ex: mobile- android/iOS development)
    •Students acquire skills and specialized knowledge in their chosen studies ( Ex: Cancer Research, Stem Cell Research, Nano technology)
    •In developing countries the OPT is not available and that is why the students come to US.
    •The curriculum and syllabus of the various Universities are fast changing to changing technologies in STEM
    •The employers will be getting the top notch brains and new energy filled students who can bring benefit to the company by the new developments science and technology and IT ( Ex: BIG DATA in IT, Social Networking, Mobile technology) otherwise relying on obsolete technologies
    •The new rule proposed will help that it will not affect any US based existing employees as they are covered under the provisions of new rule protects their interests
    •The Industry and College co-ordination will get improved by the OPT program
    •STEM students will allow employers the opportunity to accomplish bigger projects, achieve more innovation, and develop new products and technology, all of which will further fuel the U.S. economy.
    •Without practical training the education for 17 months will not prove to be beneficial to the students
    •Students will leave US, in the middle of their practical training with half-baked experience, if the OPT stem is not for a minimum of 3 years
    •It takes a total period of 4 years to master the field experience of stem ( like IT experience without 4 years of practical experience is not preferred by an employer).OPT Stem extension should be for 24 months
    •Welcome the new proposals (Formal Training Program and Customized Mentoring and Training Plan),which will benefit both employer and students. But this should not be a burden with lot of paper work and the procedure should be simplified by online submissions
    •The OPT Stem Extension Formal Training Program and Customized mentoring procedure and training rule should be simplified for the benefit of small employers as well and should reduce the unnecessary documentation work
    Cap-Gap Relief is an Important Part of the 2008 Rule and should be retained
    •Welcome the new proposals and without this the students will leave the US and there will be brain drain and students will be losing the touch on the Stem degree advancements and experience
    •It will make a dent in the student career and resume, if the Cap-Gap is Relief is not retained
    •Anyhow, if they are selected in H1b, they have to come back and work after 6 months. If this relief is there, it will avoid unnecessary travel and unnecessary lack of continuity in employment
    •There should be a new rule that all the OPT Students with stem extension should be given automatically given H1B visa after they complete the OPT extension to serve US with their talent
    •If US is changing the rule of Stem OPT Extension on temporary basis, then international students will find the other countries beneficial and hence this new rule should be a permanent one and should be implemented before the court deadline of 12 Feb 2016.
    •The new rule should be implemented by Jan 2016 (before the 12 Feb 2016) deadline by the court
    •This will reduce the uncertainty for the career of the student and they can focus on their work/training they are undergoing if the new rule is enacted in advance
    •The existing students with 17 months OPT stem extension should be given for 7 months additional extension automatically, without inviting any further extension application based on the new rule and new OPT card should be sent

  61. OPT Stem Extension: Public Comment. OPT STUDENTS AND PARENTS AND PUBLIC : WHY YOU ARE WAITING
    WE NEED 100K COMMENTS SUPPORTING THE NEW RULE BEFORE NOV18 2016
    See my comments
    WELCOME WHOLE HEARTEDLY this new Rule for OPT Stem Extension for 2 years ALL IN THE US WILL BE EQUALLY BENEFITED. Above every one the country and its benefit.US economy will thrive because of this new rule, because of the skill training. Culture will not get affected.

    Understand that this rule not against Americans and Citizens, who are protected by this updated rule for their employment that no American should be removed from service because of this OPT and their PAY should not be reduced because of this rule as adequate measures taken.Also the new rule restricts that there is no less pay for any of the OPT students

    Understand that there is a clear and well defined difference between ILLEAGAL and LEGAL immigrants/temporary workers to fill the skilled jobs and we should not create confusion about this rule on that basis as this is LEGAL OPT. Please do not deviate from this Legal OPT Concept, by citing irrelevant points of illegal migration/illegal immigration etc.

    Similarly in global community like US there is no such thing as foreigners being hired by employers, as everything is conducted legally in US.

    Already students have started to go to ENGLAND because of the OPT extension is stopped by the court in US and there the education is less expensive for Masters, since it is one year only and lot of employment opportunities.
    America will be the loser for each Masters seat evolving around $125000 per year as college fees. If there are no students for Masters Stem, there will be a loss of $ 31250000000 per year to USA with 250000 proposed foreign students. Total Loss to US Colleges and Universities in 10 year will be
    $312500000000!
    If the stem extension is not continued around 70000 students have to leave the country by 16 Feb 2016 and their projects/work will be halted, because of no skilled worker is available and it will affect employers/Industry for $70000000000 worth of projects/works/research and other revenues to US for 1 year till 16 Feb 2017
    Most of the students paid University non resident tuition and other fees to US Government at a very high rate and if this opt extension is not there, IT IS A GUARANTEE THAT NO FOREIGN STUDENT WILL COME TO STUDY IN US. They are not ready to study only bookish knowledge which can be got in their countries and through online itself.
    America is survived by the people, skilled workers and big and large business and it is the duty of DHS to protect the US economy and US people by enacting rules/legislation like this. If this is not done by DHS, who will do?
    OPT Students also paid all the university fees without any funding from University or Government or from teaching assistantships, as any other US Citizens and OPT students are not getting any Social Security Benefits and nothing is free in this country to OPT students and Medical trust funds and please note not to deviate the fact that there is $0 for Social Security for OPT students and they are contributing to US economy by paying TAX to Govt.
    H1B applications now is 210000 and the quota for MS Students is 20K and most of the Masters student did not get H1b this year. With scholarships in UK the future students, with 1 year most students will not come to US at all, if you will not imposing the rule for OPT extension
    Increase H1b quota to 500000 per year and Masters quota to 200000 per year is in all fairness as the current lottery system is unfair and the H1B cap does not meet the demand. US is the land of equal opportunities and is poised for greater growth,

    All the current students will go back to their country with the knowledge they gained by their education and US will be losing their talent and skills.

    It is a false statement that more than 86K (jobs per year) of Americans are taken away and not supported by any stats and this proposed extension will ensure that no American jobs are taken away.

    Please note that all the students are not selected for OPT and only STEM students from E-Verify companies are selected. Any opposition from other non stems students should be viewed separately from the rule and should not be studied along with this rule.
    Any degree without any concrete work experience/training is a waste of education.
    First year of OPT students gain very little experience and as proposed in the new rule, if the OPT should be extended for 2 years with guided and well programmed and monitored by employer and University( But with less paper or drudgery work for approval) for the students to get practical training.
    If the rule is not implemented then US will be 20 years back in 5 years, with obsolete technologies/industry practices etc. and economy wild be badly affected. The thought of reducing the number of H1b and other visas should not allowed as it will affect US economy very badly

    Here is the link and do it today

    https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/10/19/2015-26395/improving-and-expanding-training-opportunities-for-f-1-nonimmigrant-students-with-stem-degrees-and#open-comment

  62. Hi,

    I have gotten my STEM extension approved but am getting close to my 120 day of unemployment. What happens after that?
    I have read that the OPT expires. Is this final? What would happen if I get a job right after the 120 days. Does the grace period kick in or what happens? My authorization card lasts for more than a year longer…

    Thanks

    1. Author

      Robert – Talk to Attorney Murali to make sure your H1 (if selected) will not be denied. happyschools.com/ask-an-attorney

  63. I am on my first year of OPT. I finished my MS in computer engineering in March 2015 and started working on OPT from April 6, 2015 onwards. So my OPT expires on April 5, 2016. I know that I am allowed to apply for an extension 120 days in advance. So that is December 5, 2015. Also, my employer will start their process for H1B application in January 2016 for the April 2016 deadline.

    My question is, do I wait for the 24 month STEM extension to be approved, or go ahead and apply for the older OPT STEM extension(17 month) in December 2015.

    And I have plans of travelling to India in December 2015, If I do fill in the application for extension in December, will it be a trouble if I go to India for vacation?

    1. Author

      I don’t know about traveling while OPT extension is pending. But you can do the math and apply for OPT. Pay $380 once or twice and you will require new mentor plan if you file after Feb.

      1. Thank you so much for the early reply. I have a doubt though. So by what you say, does it mean that I will have to apply for extension again if the new rule goes through? (Considering that I would have already applied for extension in December)

        1. Author

          Dec will give you 17 months.
          But new STEM is 24 months. For remaining 7 months, you have to apply, if H1 is not approved.

          1. Ah ok! Makes sense. Thank you so much. But how long does it take for the new rule’s approval, if I decide to wait for it, its going to be a gamble right?

          2. Hi Raghu,

            We got close to 2500 comments yesterday, most of them negative…..everyday there are thousands of negative comments flooding in….this proposed rule is now trending on number 1 in all proposed regulations….the student community is not commenting as most of them are unaware about how to view all the comments in the docket or infact where to comment. Some of them are thinking that the rule will now surely come. If you check the history of regulations, most of them with so many negative comments were canceled….

            I urge you to please create a video regarding the commenting process and urge everyone to please give your positive comments regarding this rule. We still have 10 days before commenting ends.

          3. Author

            I’m going to do a video over the weekend. Lot of good comments are like “I support this rule” and negative comments are with facts. Thanks for the idea.

          4. Hi Raghu,

            You did not post any video to encourage public commenting this weekend.
            Meanwhile the total number of comments have reached 18000. Most of the comments are negative. None of the students are commenting. With so many negative comments the rule is in serious danger.

          5. Author

            Video is in Youtube channel. Couldn’t find time to publish in the site.
            Later today.

      2. It is surprising that Opt students their friends and parents and relatives are not commenting supportively with Data and I think they are digging their own graves!

        1. Chinese students and Indian students must stand together. It is extremely urgent that all Indian students on Indian Forums have to give positive comments. do not dig graves for ourselves. There are previous examples where huge wave of negative comments . Please spread the message to all Indian Students on all Forums, all Facebook groups and all Indian newspapers!!

          1. Hi Yi Shi,

            We have hate groups like http://www.stopovereach.com . They are flooding negative comments in the federal register. They already have posted sample tempelate comments on their website and encourage people to post them. Whereas we students are not even aware about how to comment or view the existing comments. As of now there are 24 thousand comments. Most of them negative.
            At this rate there will be around 50 thousand negative comments in the docket by Nov 18 which is the last date for commenting. It will be almost impossible for DHS to pass the rule in this circumstance. Still the students are sitting ideally doing nothing. Hope they start sending positive comments.

          2. Author

            I’m posting a template for everyone to use. New post should be coming out shortly.

          3. I understand that. That is why I strongly encourage every Indian student who knows this information to share and spread itto all Facebook groups, online Forums and other websites that Indian International Students visit.
            Chinese students already spread it to Weixin, Facebook and other Chinese forums on Chinese websites You should do the same!!

          4. What we need is some good software engineer with web programming skills who can create a script which will draft a comment and connect to the federal register site. The only thing the student has to do is click the link that runs the script, fill in personal details and hit submit 🙂
            Calling good programmers to execute

          5. I do not think it is really a good idea to copy a standard letter and submit like a machine Quality of comments matters more than quantity. I hope every Indian student can submit his/her own response with personal experience.
            The anti immigration group is using templates. We cannot downgrade ourselves to their level

          6. Author

            Something is better than nothing. Plus I followed H4 EAD rule making.
            Template – positive comments does help.

          7. On the comment webpage, You can search for “John Miano” who is the lawyer who brought the lawsuit against the OPT program.
            He posted large sections of comments which are more than inflammatory rhetoric.
            It is worth reading and hope people can read.
            It will also be important that students explain how OPT benefits them in terms of practicing skills learned in school.
            It is a very bad idea to mention that OPT extension helps chance of getting H1b visa because OPT is designed for students to get practice.
            F1 visa is non-immigrant and relating OPT to H1b which is for immigration visa is harmful to our argument.

          8. Do you think these comments by anti immigrants are genuine?

            I think there are some people who are commenting by different fake names.

            I am not saying we should do so but just making you aware that most of these negative comments are done by fake identities.

          9. Author

            I know why people are not commenting in support of the Rule.

            Check this blog post – http://www.happyschools.com/comment-stem-opt-extension-proposed-rule/

            People are copying and pasting the comment for the blog post.

            I thought I gave clear instructions – Go here and do this and post your comment.

            I’m just amazed, how someone can’t follow simple instructions!

            Btw – I disabled the comments on the page!

          10. There are some “genuine” comments that oppose the rule.Try to search “John Miano” who is the lawyer of the anti-immigration group.

            It is worth reading and hope people can read.It will also be important that students explain how OPT benefits them in terms of practicing skills learned in school.It is a very bad idea to mention that OPT extension helps chance of getting H1b visa because OPT is designed for students to get practice.F1 visa is non-immigrant and relating OPT to H1b which is for immigration visa is harmful to our argument.

          11. I agree with Yi Shi. It will also be disastrous to relate STEM OPT and students getting ‘Green Cards’ and ‘Citizenship’. The trick is to be very specific and stick to practical training, comment where they have asked for comments and not in general. Play safe, comment with proper reasoning and do not be generic.

          12. Author

            I don’t think they have API to do that. Is someone can do it in next day or two, I can promote it 🙂

          13. Thats stupid of people to comment below your post! By the way, please keep this para in mind before you comment on the proposed rule:

            If you submit comments, please include the docket number for this rulemaking, indicate the specific section of this document to which each comment applies, and provide a reason for each suggestion or recommendation. You may submit your comments and materials online or by mail, but please use only one of these means. We recommend that you include your name and a mailing address, an email address, or a phone number in the body of your document so that we can contact you if we have questions regarding your submission. ICE will file all comments sent to our docket address, as well as items sent to the address or email under the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT section above, in the public docket, except for comments containing marked confidential information. If you submit a comment, it will be considered received by ICE when it is received at the Docket Management Facility.

  64. @Raghu

    You really need to make a video urging students current and future and also those people who are on OPT to go and comment on the proposed rule with facts and reasons.
    Looking at the disgusting comments that have been written by others is so heartbreaking for those who have worked hard to be here and work for them..If we are going down lets atleast put up a fight..Years of hardwork will come down to nothing if we dont do anything guys!! please wake up

    1. Aditya,

      I have recently send my STEM OPT pocket as my adviser and DSO asked me to do so. We have contacted an attorney regarding this issue. The attorney said neither court ruling nor DHS rule hasn’t clearly mentioned the fate of already approved STEM OPTs. However, he said it is highly unlikely that court will order to cancel approved STEM OPT EADs given that DHS’s strong incentive to comply with the court’s order.

      1. Author

        Thanks for the update. Hope that will be the case. Remember – there’s another pending lawsuit.

      2. Krishna,

        Thank you for the information. That was precisely the point I was making. No one seemed to agree to that. People were like ‘ if the rule does not pass, you will have to return, extensions will be invalid etc.’.

        I do request people not to create panic and wait as everyone is unsure. How can one be sure that students will have to leave? Let us wait for an official word from the DHS. Do not, i repeat do not create panic.

        It would be great if people use their common sense and read the proposed rule, the court ruling etc. in detail. Be patient. Someone was comparing this situation with EAD cards issued after marrying a citizen and the need to return home if the marriage ends. I mean what sort of an analogy is that? ! Thank you Krishna for bringing some sense back in discussion.

  65. I see a lot of negative comments. what happens if the negative comments are more ? Will USCIS dissolve the rule?

    1. Author

      Rule approval is not based on number fo negative vs positive comments.
      Plus, there’s 100,000 students just from India alone and most of them are not comments. Some ar eot even aware that they have to comment.

      Proposed Rule IS NOT Equal to Published (approved) rule.

      1. Raghu,
        First of all thank you for all your help. I have been watching every video you posted and reading every comment by you since August 12th. Currently I am working as a Postdoc and my 12-month OPT expires on Feb.12th. Until yesterday I was thinking to wait till Feb.6th to send my STEM OPT application to USCIS. However my adviser and DSO told me to submit the pocket some time next week. They were referring to the below paragraph of the rule published by
        “DHS is making every effort to have a final rule take effect prior to February 13, 2016, when the stay on the vacatur of the 2008 IFR is currently set to expire. In the event, however, that a final rule resulting from this rule making does not take effect before the vacatur of the 2008 IFR, DHS will lack clear regulatory authority to grant pending applications for STEM OPT extensions. In that case, DHS will evaluate options to address pending applications, such as returning such applications and requiring refiling upon completion of a final rule. DHS seeks comments on these and other options for addressing pending applications if a final rule is not in place prior to the court’s vacatur, including comments on the harm that such a gap may cause.

        Their understanding is if the rule doesn’t get effective by Feb 12, it doesn’t affect the current OPT Extension students who have already received their STEM OPT cards. Do you think their understanding is correct? Kindly reply to this question

        Thanks
        Krishna

        1. Author

          Murali talked about this in one video. It’s unclear and we don’t know what will happen.

          but, After Feb 12, 2016 – If they haven’t implemented, then students ned to stop working.

          1. Does this mean people who got their H-1 done while they were on STEM OPT will also have to leave. I am applying the same logic. I do not think it will affect those currently on STEM extension.

          2. Author

            If current status is H1 then no need to leave.

          3. Thanks Raghu. I have already watched those videos. You are right it’s unclear and we don’t know yet. Since my DSO is insisting to submit application as soon as possible, I will be submitting my STEM OPT application next week.

          4. Well, I saw another attorney saying that it would still be possible for students with EAD cards will be allowed to continue working even if the rule does not go through by Feb 12. He said it would be unlawful to ask them to stop working after issuing EAD cards

          5. Author

            Absolutely wrong!

            Unless court extends the deadline or new stay is ordered, STEM OPT Extension expires.

          6. How can you be so sure about this? The language in the proposed rule clearly states that if the DHS is not able to get a new rule by the deadline, they wont be sure how to deal with ‘PENDING applications’. They have asked for comments on this section. This means that the applications that have been processed before the deadline would be processed as per DHS’s legislative authority as the old rule is still valid. They are only worried about pending applications. I recommend people to file their extensions timely if they fall in the 90-120 day frame.

            No one is sure, everyone has their own point of view. There is no mention of current extensions being void anywhere in the proposed rule or on any legal document. People are just giving out their understanding of the situation.

          7. Author

            What’s proposed doesn’t count, until it’s published or we get more clarification in the final rule. Until then Court Ruling is the law of the land.

          8. Exactly, the ruling states that DHS wont have any legislative authority to give any extensions after the 12th of Feb. They can give extensions before the 12th as per the old rule. Also, the 6 months stay granted by court aimed at processing all the pending extensions so that they would not be void in the first place. The 6 months also aimed at getting DHS pass a new rule following proper procedure. This stay on the ruling ensures that people with pending extensions or people who are yet to apply for extensions do not have to face any difficulty and it also ensures a smooth transition.

          9. Sorry Aditya you are absolutely wrong. When the rule is vacated then everyone who will be on an extension will be out of status.

            It is a big mistake of many students that once they receive the EAD card of stem extension then they are safe from the ruling.

            It is clearly stated in the ruling that everyone regardless if he is currently on stem extension, has an approved extension or has a pending application for extension is going to be out of status if rule is not published before Feb 12.

            I will give you a simple example. If you get married to a US citizen, you will get a 2 years EAD to start with. But if you separate after some months then that EAD card becomes invalid and you are required to leave the country.

            All in all if you think that you have some EAD card on hand and you are safe, that will be a very big mistake.

          10. Harshil,

            First of all, show me the exact lines in the ruling which states what you are saying.

            Secondly, the example that you gave me is totally different from the current situation. EAD after Marriage and post completion OPT cannot be compared.

            Thirdly, I am just interpreting the situation and am not sure what will happen. No one is sure and no one knows. How can one be sure of the consequences if the new rule does not go through.

          11. Author

            If new rule doesn’t go through, you got 60 days OPT grace period to leave the country or find other ways to stay in legal status.

          12. Harshil, your point about being seperated and EAD getting invalid is analogous to a situation where a student is unemployed for more than 90/120 days in OPT period. I still do not think people will be asked to leave the country, if the rule does not get through (although I am certain it will)

          13. Harshil,

            Please read the para below:

            In a meeting with AILA (10 September 2015), NSC said that STEM OPT EAD cards will remain valid even beyond February, despite the court ruling. AILA Doc No. 15111902:

            4. Will STEM OPT EAD cards that are issued with validity beyond February 2016 continue to be valid if the STEM OPT rule is changed or revoked as a result of holding in the federal court case on STEM OPT (Washington Alliance of Technology Workers v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security)?

            Answer: Yes.

            http://www.immigration.com/blogs/17-month-stem-cap-gap-opt-extension-voided-court

            As I said, this situation is also possible. It would be unfair to say that existing EADs will be invalid. NSC has stated that existing EADs will be valid even after February.

            Lets wait and watch.

          14. This is the update I have from my university’s international student department. They claims to be in close touch with USCIS.
            Those who have been already granted OPT extension by USCIS/DHS will not be affected by the vacation of rule.
            Current developments affect those who apply in the duration between Feb 12 and till new rule is executed. Until then all OPT extension applications will be accepted and processed by USCIS.
            Furthermore, those with EAD cards with end dates past Feb 12 can continue to live and work in US legally after Feb 12 and until their OPT extension end date.

            (I am currently on OPT extension with EAD card expiration date as Feb 2017).

  66. The comments have reached 24000, for the recent posted comments around 200 today, most of them are negative, time is running and we cannot lose!!! Wake up, if we do not fight for our rights, no one will stand with us!!!!!

  67. Author

    I’m going to convert this into a blog post 🙂 ( removing it from here).

  68. Raghu –

    How long will it take for DHS to review and publish the final rule ? Are there any chances for interim rule if the rule is published by end of November or early December ?

  69. Now that the comment period is over, how long can we expect them to publish a final rule (or amend and propose new one for comments) This should be published before Dec 13th, right?

      1. Raghu,

        If the final rule won’t be published until Jan 2016 will that mean that it won’t be effective till March 2016 and what happens in that case to the Feb 12 deadline? Also, could you provide the source from where you got the information about Jan publishing date.

        1. Author

          It’s listed in the Reginfo page, where Jan is listed as the timeline to publish the Final Rule. I don’t know what can happen with the timeline.

        1. Author

          Haa. Not always. I have made my fair share of mistakes. I would love to see this rule gets published sooner, but reviewing 10,000 comments for H4 EAD took them 3 months. So, I would think reviewing 50,000 comments will take longer, but we don’t have the luxury of time here.

      1. Author

        Review is expected to be submitted for OMB approval sometime end of Dec or Jan 2016.

        1. does this imply the final rule will not be published by 12 Feb 2016?
          what happens to current STEM OPT holders in that case?

          1. Be optimistic guys, things are looking good. DHS expediated the process , reduced comment period from 60 to 30 days . Pushed out the new rule in insanely less time; they are well aware of circumstances and not producing the rule on time might have effect on USA economy as companies are not prepared for the change neither are we..

          2. Author

            If DHS is planning to publish in Jan 2016, then they should have plan. We thought Dec 12 should the deadline for 60 days delayed implementation.
            Looks like they have another way. maybe they would ask the court for extension or get a stay for a month. #staypositive

  70. Hi all,
    My friend applied for his stem extension in the first week of October and he got it approved for 17months yesterday.

    1. Yes, I applied in the 1st week of October too and I got 17 months extension.

  71. I have my OPT Extension until Nov 2016 and planning to travel to India during January(return before Feb 12th 2016). Is it ok to travel during that time?

    1. Author

      It’s not advisd to travel during OPT, but so many have done it. If you can avoid then good, if not then you are essentially taking the risk.

      1. Sir, you really need to get a handle of US immigration laws before scaring people here. “It’s not advised to travel during OPT”.. Can you please give me a source that says this? If you have a valid F-1 visa, I-20 and EAD, there is no difference between while travelling on OPT or any other visa. Please do not try to create false panic to get more “hits”. It is a miserable attempt!!

  72. There is no risk to travel outside of the USA if you have valid US visa, valid OPT, Company’s letter and updated I-20. Recently, I traveled three times (2 times in Brazil and 1 time in Puerto Rico) with my STEM OPT and had no problem in entering to the US. I am not sure whether we are allowed to work with STEM OPT after February 12 or not.

  73. Dear Raghuram,

    Thank you for you latest updates on STEM OPT extension. I have already have an approved STEM opt extension with an expiration date later than Feb 12th 2016. According to your post it should be still valid although rule implementation will not meet the deadline. Do you know whether USCIS have any official update regarding this?

    1. Author

      Nothing is available in the public domain. I did search a lot for this.
      Sometimes, teleconference details doesn’t gets published. Or I have to be an attorney to get access to that. I’m trying!

      1. What if my application is pending around 12th Feb? I have already applied for an extension and my packet reached USCIS on 13th Nov. If my application is pending around that time, will they be able to grant extension?

        1. Author

          I don’t know the answer. Their language is confusing in the rule. Wait for final rule.

    2. Author

      Latest update says, it’s not valid ( or they are still thinking if it will be valid)/

  74. Dear Raghuram,

    Thank you for your latest updates on STEM OPT extension. I already have an approved STEM opt extension with an expiration date later than Feb 12th 2016. According to your post it should be still valid , although rule implementation will not meet the deadline. Do you know whether USCIS have any official update regarding this?

  75. Author

    Check the latest update (Dec 15, 2015) in this blog post. USCIS changed their minds! Crazy!

    1. Thanks for the update. This is indeed frustrating . It is going to be a big hassle to re-issue EAD cards . It seems like that USCIS will not meet the deadline.

      1. I got this email from the Murthy firm

        The original MurthyDotCom article was based on a document published a couple of weeks ago by AILA on its website. Yesterday, AILA was contacted by the USCIS to say that this question is still under review. (It is unclear whether this was an error by AILA, and error by the USCIS, or if the USCIS is simply reconsidering the matter.) AILA, in turn, contacted the Murthy Law Firm to advise us of what had transpired.

    1. Author

      Venkat – Thanks for sharing.

      There’s so much uncertainty around this. It’s better to have a Plan B.
      Just in case.

      1. Hi Raghu

        And what options are available in Plan B? No other visas are available for people on STEM extension. If you can suggest some options it would help (I cannot think of any)

          1. There are 3 kinds of categorizes you will need to address here :

            1. People who are eligible to apply for STEM extension after Feb 12
            2. People whose applications are pending on Feb 12 (If rule does not go through I suspect all pending application status will change to denied on Feb 13 since DHS will lack the authority to approve them thus eliminating the 180 day work rule when the application is pending)
            3. People who are on already approved STEM extension

            Since H1B is the only option which does not come into effect till Oct 2016 – options are very limited to none

    2. This is a rule which is “economically significant” and “major” that went into effect in 30 days. It happened earlier this year.

      http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eAgendaViewRule?pubId=201510&RIN=1651-AA72

      I have gone through the document which explains the rule making procedure i.e. this

      https://www.federalregister.gov/uploads/2011/01/the_rulemaking_process.pdf

      and it says, if the DHS(rule making body) could provide proper justification, even economically significant and major rules can go into effect in 30 days. Might be a good question to pose to Attorny Murali Bashyam.

      1. AJ….great data Raghu please ask Murali if this rule can be brought into effect within 30 days if DHS provides justifications!

        1. Author

          I think only DHS can answer that. I posted analysis on how it requires 60 days period before publishing in a video. We have to wait and see what DHS plans to do. I don’t think any attorney at this point can answer this.

  76. Hi All,

    I believe I got a valid doubt here. I am opt extension too. I have applied my extension after the court judgement. I applied for extension on Aug 31(approved by Laguna niguel CA service center), and my application was approved and extension was given till 25/Feb/ 2017.

    As well my cousin applied in September and got her approval for complete 17 months. And many of our friends too.

    I am surprised if we are the only special ones or those who received are special and making everyone panic.

    1. Author

      As of today your approval is not valid from Feb 12, 2016. Wait for more details from DHS.

      1. Show me an official link which says approval is not valid. Please dont create panic. Just say, no one is sure.

        1. Author

          I posted the link. USCIS reply to AILA is as official as it gets. Only Immigration attorneys who are members of AILA have access to those documents.

          1. Please do not misinform your followers!!! USCIS did NOT say EAD cards will not be valid after Feb 12. They are still reviewing this question, simply because they probably have two options in their heads: 1) Add some kind of a provision in the final rule so that current EAD cards still remain valid. 2) Ask the court for extension. Do you know how many $$$ would it mean to send 30,000 qualified STEM workers to their homes in a day? They will never do that.

  77. Hope you can guide me on the following:
    My OPT extension is expiring in April 19, 2016. I also applied for MBA in University that provide CPT from Day 1. Session starts Jan 19, 2016. I am planning to defer to session II which starts in March 14. I have two scenarios in front of me-
    1. If court order stay and OPT extension is revoked, I will go on CPT.
    – Do you see any problem in transferring my SEVIS from old university to new university, if my OPT is revoked on Feb 12 (for March 14 session).
    2. If court rules not revoke OPT extension, I will apply for 7 month extension-
    – Do I have to ask my employer to create training and mentoring plan before I apply for addition 7 month extension.
    – Do I will be able to file for 7 month extension.

    1. Author

      If STEM OPT ext approved with Mentor and Training plan, then your employer and you have to follow the instructions. For other questions, I will let other memebrs of this gorup comment.

    2. hey shasank, can you provide more details about the university you got admission into. Do they offer classes online?

      Thanks

  78. Hi Raghu,

    Thank you for the fabulous work you are doing. This is my first time commenting and I read the comments policy but it seems like you are answering the questions here, I thought its probably ok to post my question here.
    My OPT (standard) expires Dec 31, 2015. I applied for STEM extension on Sep 8, 2015. I got my card yesterday and its valid for 17 months. For those of you who applied for extension at the TEXAS SERVICE CENTER, it maybe more than 90 days (as in my case) before your case is approved.
    I have a PhD and I work for a state agency. Unfortunately, the agency apparently never hired an international student (probably being a government agency). They have no idea about h1b and STEM but after explaining they understood and they are working with their legal team to figure out the cost. In all probability, they will sponsor my H1B but the issue is time. I have a post doc offer from the university and if I take that up, my boss (university) will file for H1B. Would you happen to have any idea as to when I can decide if I need to go back as a post doc (meaning would it work if I just decide to go back to the university on Feb 1 and they file H1B in a week). Is it a practical time frame? I understand I may not get my EAD but would it help me maintain my status?
    Also, I need to provide my current employer some documentation which says that a government agency is exempted from CAP GAP and can file for H1B any time of the year. Could you please give me a link to any such info (preferably DHS/USCIS). I tried but couldn’t find anything. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Apologies for the long comment/question. Thanks!

  79. My DSO says that even if the STEM ruling does not pass, my STEM is valid until the end of my work authorization. Unless they are sure about it they would not communicate the same to the students. Any comments?

    1. Author

      USCIS is yet to confirm if 17 months Extension is Valid. So, wait for official update from USCIS.

      1. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security asked a Washington, D.C., federal court on Tuesday to prolong its stay of an order axing an optional practical training extension for certain student visa holders, saying the agency needs more time to review the over 50,500 comments received on its replacement rule.

        DHS asked the court to extend the stay of a decision that vacated the rule, until May 10..

        http://www.law360.com/articles/741540/dhs-looks-to-keep-opt-rule-alive-for-3-more-months

        1. Author

          Attorney Murali is on vacation. Pleas what till New Years to get more updates. 😄

        2. Sharadjk,

          Thank you for those links. I had a look at the motion copy and read through it. I saw the reasons USCIS is giving the court for staying the vacatur by an additional three months, but I did not see anything that indicated that they are going to change the rule in its entirety. Are you trying the say that the final published rule is going to be entirely different from the proposed rule that received those 50,500 comments? It might very well be, but I saw no indication of it in the motion copy that you linked to. I might have overlooked it. Could you point to any specific parts that made you arrive at that opinion?

          If I am mistaken and you were saying that the new rule is going to be different from the current rule (the one that is being vacated), then you are of course, right. That was very evident from the time the proposed rule was published.

          1. Hi ASN man I meant to talk about the new rule not that they are making changes to the rules in its entirely again , thats what i meant , my english sucks ..haha , for what i know is DHS has almost read all the comments , because they said that 85% are unique which means they have gone through the comments , they are now preparing the response to the comments , it , the way comment period works is that the –
            The comment period is meant for public participation where in the public can share their own opinion , also sometimes with data to support their claim , the agency should not base its rule on the basis of number of comments received in favor or against it . Its not an voting system , an agency must site that the final rule will overcome the problem cited in the comment section and will address it well , it will also should provide any alternative solution if its more effective , if the comment period however pose serious criticisms to the rule with data or opinion the agency can terminate the rule or can propose the rule rule again entirely , with another comment period ; in this case I suppose that is not the case , because all they said was that they received so many comments and they need time to respond to that comment , good thing is they are moving towards the final step , publishing the rule for OMB review , then putting it in the federal register , then the 60 days delay effect for major rules
            In short I would say they are all prepared to make the final rule go through with some changes , the only thing is that the court shall give them enough time to draft the rule and the status of the students shall be unharmed

    2. Indian students will not go to USA if OPT rule doesn’t go through. It impacts U.S. Economy by multi-billions of dollars.Doing MS in US is not as standard as M.Tech from IIT. Majority of US universities will face finacial crisis for R &D. Obama executive actions shows his vision for future generations, to make USA much more stronger.Truely a leader of the world. His basic aim is to attract best and brightest students to US, use their talent to build the nation as a superpower in all aspects. Unfortunately some US citizens (who were migrated) are making lot of hue & cry for OPT extension.

      I think OPT extension may be through with some changes to avoid illegal immigration.More over,OPT is entirely within DHS limits. They are putting the motion as per the procedure.All Govt. will run as per the procedures not as per the principles.

      What way US citizens are goig to affect by extending OPT?……..

      Real US citizens are least bothered about OPT extension.

      It is a matter of those who are weak,insecured citizens who do not want others to grab their jobs.
      Science and technology is always dynamic.
      Everyone has to work to make the entire globe to glitter…

      1. Gaurisankargaur,

        I think that this new 24 month OPT STEM extension rule is going to go through regardless. I think that the DHS is pretty confident of this rule becoming effective by May 10. I don’t think that’s the most troubling question right now (unless the Appeals court deems OPT illegal in the other case filed by WashTech, and one they have a very slim chance of winning, according to most immigration lawyers.) I don’t think you have to worry about OPT or the OPT Stem Extension going away any time soon. The most troubling question right now is whether the court will grant an extension of the stay of the vacatur of the current rule from Feb 12 to May 10, because if they don’t, students currently on the STEM Extension would have to stop working on Feb 12 and go back to their home countries (unless USCIS decides that students with EAD cards valid beyond Feb 12 can still stay and work, regardless of the vacatur, in which case the vacatur will still affect students with Feb 12 expiration date on their EAD cards, or those with an expiration date between Feb 12 and whatever date the new rule becomes effective on).

  80. I am curious about what would happen to students whose OPT is expiring around Feb end. Mine is expiring around Feb 22nd. Do I have any hope of benefitting from the new rule?

      1. One more sad news….to all OPT students…….we are helpless.
        We are disappointed. Spent lakhs of money for higher education.
        Returning home with MS degree with un known and unwarranted journey.

        DHS Files Last-Ditch Motion to Preserve Improper OPT Rules

        By John Miano, December 27, 2015

        As we have reported previously, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia vacated new regulations for the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program effective February 12, 2016. The court gave DHS a six-month delay to allow it to take some form of corrective action. The deadline for DHS to correct by getting a new rule in place has come and gone.

        (OPT is for foreign workers masquerading as students; the new regulations extend the period of time foreign graduates in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) could work under PT status.)

        As DHS pointed out to the court, once the rule is vacated on February 12, aliens working on the OPT extensions will have to cease work and leave the country.

        We now know how DHS will respond to its failure to meet the deadline. It filed a motion last week with the District Court to seek relief from the judgment, hoping to get a further delay on the vacatur of the regulation. This is a Hail Mary on the part of DHS; the Cowboys have better odds on making the Super Bowl this year than such a motion has to succeed.

        The motion process will extend into the middle of January. Depending on how long it takes the judge to decide, the foreign guest workers will get less than a months’ notice whether they can continue working past February 12. In fact, they may get no notice at all. February 12 could come with no court decision and they would have to immediately stop working.

        DHS could have used the six-month delay the court very generously granted them to plan an orderly transition for when the OPT extensions go away, but did not do so.

        If this sounds screwed up, remember that these are the same folks managing airport line security. ‘Nuf said.

        I found the materials DHS filed in support of the motion highly disturbing. Remember that OPT extensions were created in 2008 for the purpose of circumventing the quotas on H-1B visas; the thinking was, if the aliens could not get an H-1B visa, let them work on a student visa instead after graduation – even though they were no longer students. Microsoft pitched the idea of these regulations to the DHS secretary at a dinner party. DHS then worked in secrecy with industry and academic lobbyists to create the rules and promulgated them without any notice to the public that such rules were being considered.

        That, folks, is government corruption.

        When the court held last August that the regulations were promulgated unlawfully, what was DHS’s response to having a court-imposed deadline?

        In the motion, Rachel Canty, Assistant Director for External Operations for the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said DHS took an “‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach, in which multiple offices from throughout DHS and other agencies helped develop and review the draft regulation on an expedited basis.”

        Hmmmmm.

        Compare and contrast: When Americans are replaced by H-1B workers, DHS does absolutely nothing. Zero. When foreign workers will lose their jobs, DHS summons “all-hands-on-deck” to respond.

        That shows a government with a completely warped sense of priorities.

        1. What is sad about this. That’s from a blog by the person representing the Washington Alliance of Tech workers. What the hell do you expect out of him. Almost all immigration lawyers out there has expressed that the motion to delay by 90 days will go through. This John Miana guy is helpless.

          1. Author

            I don’t want to sound negative. But, he the guys who got this rule vacated.
            So, we can’t say he’s helpless. He knows more than what you and I know.
            It’s not what court would decide. We want the extension. Period. Right?

          2. Well, I don’t feel it’s a coincidence that Obama announced his Executive action regarding OPT Stem last year and court vacates the rule due to ‘procedural deficiencies’ soon. I feel it be a ploy by the government to push through the new rule and the Judge is merely a puppet. That’s why I feel whatever these guys at WA Tech Workers are helpless.

          3. Well, I don’t feel it’s a coincidence that Obama announced his Executive action regarding OPT Stem last year and court vacates the rule due to ‘procedural deficiencies’ soon. I feel it be a ploy by the government to push through the new rule and the Judge is merely a puppet. That’s why I feel these guys at WA Tech Workers are helpless.

          4. DHS still has to respond to the comments and produce a final regulation. The regulation then has to be approved by the Office of Management and Budget. Finally, it has to be published in the Federal Register to go into effect 60 days later.

            Rest is self explanatory.

            Packup.Say good bye to USA.

            Forget about your blunder by doing MS in US.

            We are aliens in US (from India) to earn our bread and butter by studying in USA.
            Unfortunately, we came to know confidentially that, OPT will be vacated.

            No amnesty ,no work permits, nothing but deportation.
            My only worry is that,

            Many innocent students were motivated to do MS in US by consultencies to mint money.This should be stopped.It is a cheating tactic by consultencies and some US universities who are depending on our tuition fees to run some of the universities in their country.

            It seems some universities do not require GRE and TOEFL

            Some students are registering MS and working outside in a remote place.
            Some are doing off the campus illegal jobs.
            Mnay were taken huge loan from Banks.How do they repay?.
            Neither Emily nor Raghuram Sukuamar, or Mr.Obama will help you out to repay your loans.
            They never asked you to study in US universities.
            It is you, with over ambition flew to US without any goals and vision.Blind decision. So suffer….
            Now a days F1 VISA sucess rate is 100% .
            This clearly indicates that, OPT will be revoked in few days or weeks.
            You are asking silly questions such as my OPT expires on so… and so..date..will it or any any hope..like..etc.
            First of all why US should give you jobs/ OPT??????…

            suggestion

            Come back, start own business , develop India like Japanese who believe drop by drop make the ocean.
            Why cann’t Indian students work with same vigour,intelligence,hard work at India?

            Who knows one day India may establish much better companies like….Microsoft etc..We have highly precious brains.Use it …….
            We must give toughest of the tough competetion to USA in IT.
            We have to make India as a supreme nation in the world for IT industry and US should depend on us in IT sector.

            We have worlds best brains.Our strength is our brain, our hard work, our innovations, our team work efforts.

            Forget about this ,think it as a bad dream.Think positively for construction of India as a super power in IT….. like all hands on deck.

            Do not beg.have your own identity. At the most initially we may fail, but it is not an end. It is a new biginning. Change.

            “When we have our own house, why we should live in a rented house with so many restrictions, second class citizen treatment, insults, humiliations, vacate, follow this rule or else vacate, looked low by US citizens,.

            I support Japan, each developing nation should follow Japan.

            Thes are all my opinions.Not intended to discourage young hearts and brains.
            I am sorry if you take in other way.It is for your good only.

  81. According to 1point3acres, a major Chinese immigration forum/blog, the new OPT extension rule has been internally approved by USCIS (http: //www.1point3acres.com/stem-opt-extension-approved/). The screenshot embedded in the article seems to be taken from an email from the visa department of Duke University.

    I have no way to verify the authenticity of the news but thought people might be interested in an update.

        1. Author

          Here the line that I have been saying all along…

          As DHS pointed out to the court, once the rule is vacated on February 12, aliens working on the OPT extensions will have to cease work and leave the country.

          Let’s hope court will respond by then.

          1. Guys…That blog belongs to Mr. Miano, who represents WashTech. Just check his previous blog posts to see how confident he pretends to be for every single case he is working on…

            A lot of immigration lawyers DO believe that the motion will pass. 50,500 comments is the most amount of comments DHS encountered in its’ history, as pointed out in the motion, which is an extraordinary situation. Also, the decision is up to the judge and judge only, the fact that Mr. Miano is making fierce predictions about the outcome of a decision which is only up to the Judge seems quite unethical.

            To add on top of that, Raghuram, at this time, we don’t need to see posts from you like “OMG I’VE BEEN TELLING THIS ALL ALONG, YOU ARE SCREWED!!!” but rather research on it more. The fact is, even if this motion is denied, DHS is NOT out of legal maneuvers to gain time. This post summarizes what alternative legal actions DHS can take :

            http://www.visalawyerblog.com/2015/12/28/update-stem-opt-replacement-rule-delayed/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+VisaLawyerBlogCom+(Visa+Lawyer+Blog)

          2. Author

            Jason,

            Happy New Year to all.

            Lot of immigration lawyers said “DHS has plenty of time to implement this by Feb 12,2016”.

            There was one who predicted they would request extension after analyzing the timeline.

            Here’s my worry.

            Court gave 6 months. Rule was published only in Oct. I hope courts don’t use that as the excuse.

            Most students just want some rule. Impact of this rule would be felt when employer and manager sees the form they have to fill.

            Very reason why I write statements to create fear is not every student is careful enough to read and understand and follow the rules.

            In the backend I’m seeing so many OPT RFE questions to Murali who had more unemployment days due to carelessness.

            Remember there are students from schools like NPU and SVU.

          3. Jason, thank you for linking to that visa lawyer blog. Hopefully, the motion will pass, but it is a relief to know that DHS has other options to stay the vacatur even if the motion does not pass. I am glad that the blog gives examples of what the DHS can do in such a case. The last line of the blog, however, sounds a big ambiguous to me; “CIS has not yet released official correspondence explaining whether students affected will be granted a STEM extension after the February deadline.”

            CIS is Center for Immigration Studies, the anti-immigration organization for which Mr. Miano writes the blog. I think that the blog post meant to say USCIS and not CIS. I am also guessing that the last line probably meant to say that the USCIS hasn’t yet released official correspondence explaining whether students on STEM extension with EAD cards expiring after Feb 12 will be allowed to continue if the motion does not pass, but I could be wrong.

          4. Thanks Raghuram! Will you look into what DHS can do at this point to save OPT STEM? I still hope and believe that they are sane enough to do something to save the program because it has huge implications for US economy. Please let us know when you have more information!

          5. Hi, Raghuram.

            Firstly, I want to thank you for this blog, and for pursuing this particular case, and letting affected students discuss their grievances and options in the comments, and giving us an opportunity to talk to Mr. Murali. Wish you a Happy New Year as well!

            In your last comment, you said: “Here’s my worry. Court gave 6 months. Rule was published only in Oct. I hope courts don’t use that as the excuse.”

            The current rule was vacated (with a stay) on August 12. The new proposed rule was published in the Federal Register on October 18, but DHS had to wait for OMB approval before they could publish it. They sent the rule for OMB approval on October 2, which is slightly over 1.5 months from the date of August 12, when the court decision was handed out. Do you not think that the judge would not consider it a reasonable amount of time to come up with a new rule in its entirety? Is that not the general amount of time needed by DHS to come up with a new rule? I am just curious. What does Attorney Murali think about this? While I know that nobody can say anything for sure, does Mr. Murali think that the motion to stay the vacatur will pass? Are you at liberty to say?

            Thank you, and please keep us posted.

          6. Author

            I will ask Murali about this when we meet next time. It maybe totally non-factor. Considering the changes they have made to the rule, it could have taken lot longer. I would have guess with the resources they have, they would submit the rule in 2 to 3 weeks for Approval. I’m guessing here.
            Who knows the efforts goes on behind the scenes. Maybe this is fastest they could do with resources they have.

          7. Hi

            Any latest information on this OPT STEM issue ?

            Thanks

          8. We have to wait till January 11th as the court has asked Washington workers union to reply on the DHS motion of stay extension. keeping fingers crossed!!

            Quoted form the below link “The District Court has in turn granted a WashTech motion to respond to the DHS request, giving the trade union until January 11 to respond.”

            http://www.studytravel.network/magazine/news/DHS-OPT-STEM

      1. Is it approved or going to be approved.
        Lot of confusion.Hardly 34,900 students are on OPT extension.

        Hope DHS may go ahead with stringent rules to cout down heavy traffic for F1VSA and unauthorized stay in USA

        Dont worry…be happy…..have a wonderful New Year 2016.

          1. Looks like Miano came across that AILA leadership blog that told OPT STEM students that there was still time for DHS to do some legal maneuvering and told them not to panic. He has commented this in response on his own blog: “Several people have written saying that they heard if DHS fails on this motion they have two more chances by filing motions for stay pending appeal in the district court then in the circuit court. The paperwork in the current motion will not be finished until the end of this month, giving the judge just days to make the decision before the end of STEM OPT on Feb.
            12th (and it is entirely possible there will not be a decision before that date). Whoever has coming up with this nonsense has not checked a calendar.
            Even if there were time for DHS to do one or two more motions, DHS would make a motion to stay pending appeal of what? The question of whether DHS improperly denied the public notice comment is not on appeal. I guess DHS could make a motion but such a stay would be really short. Folks, you need to start listening to RELIABLE sources, not any person who can post to the Internet.”

            Also, in response to being asked “Does it mean that people who have already been issued OPT extension well beyond Feb 12th will not be able to work anymore, if judge decides not extend the stay or no decision is being made?”, he commented: “That is what DHS told the Court.”

            Raghuram, could you ask Attorney Murali if that last part is true? Because it seems odd that DHS would tell the court that already issued OPT STEM extensions would also be rendered invalid on Feb 12 if the rule is vacated then, while they are themselves reviewing that question and haven’t made a decision yet. Also, in the new proposed rule, DHS has said: “In the event, however, that a final rule resulting from this rulemaking does not take effect before the vacatur of the 2008 IFR, DHS will lack clear regulatory authority to grant pending applications for STEM OPT extensions. In that case, DHS will evaluate options to address pending applications, such as returning such applications and requiring re-filing upon completion of a final rule”, thus addressing new and pending applications, nothing addressing already granted ones.

            Thanks.

          2. Author

            I will be talking to Murali today. I will ask him his thoughts.

          3. I am also currently on STEM OPT extension with a valid EAD card that expires in November. Now, I have a valid EAD card and I have not received any official statement or update from either my school or DHS that tells me to stop working on February 12th. No one basically has told me to stop working beyond February 12th as yet. So, does this not mean that I am eligible to work beyond February 12th? The way DHS would communicate to the students who will apply for STEM extensions after Feb 12th, in case this rule does not go through, will be by telling them that they cannot get the extension in the first place. For people in similar situation as me, either the DHS or the school should officially tell us to stop working beyond February 12th otherwise our work permit is valid.

        1. Even if the government is unsuccessful on its FRCP 60(b)(6) motion, it has another option to delay the February 12, 2016 deadline: a stay of the court’s injunction under FRCP 62(c). While Judge Huvelle would likely not grant a stay of her ruling after refusing to delay the stay of vacatur, the government must first file a 62(c) motion at the district court level before asking for a stay of the ruling from the Circuit Court, pursuant to Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure 8.
          The upshot of this legal maneuvering is that the government has given itself three bites at the apple to delay the February 12 deadline: (1) Judge Huvelle may grant the government its requested 90-day delay on the present motion; (2) Judge Huvelle may later grant a complete stay pending appeal of the injunction; or (3) the DC Circuit may stay Judge Huvelle’s injunction while it considers the merits of her rulings in the underlying case. Interested parties should stay tuned.

      2. Dear Raghu Your comments on this please:

        I felt that, what the following gentle man arugument is more reasonable:

        By John Miano, December 14, 2015
        We previously reported that the DHS regulations allowing non-student graduates to work on student visas for 29 to 35 months on student visas under the Optional Practical Training program (OPT) were vacated by the U.S. District Court in D.C. vacated for DHS’s failure to give notice and comment. DHS crafted these regulations secretly, in cahoots with industry lobbyists, as a means to circumvent the H-1B visa quotas. Nonetheless, the District Court delayed vacating the rule for six months (until February 12, 2016) to give DHS time to do something to lessen the impact.
        Rather than reexamine the wisdom of allowing non-students to work on student visas for years, DHS decided to use this grace period to double down and put in place a new rule to allow these aliens to work even longer. DHS tried to correct the defect of the original, secret rule-making by going through the motions and giving a sham notice and comment where the agency had already decided (and announced) the outcome in advance.
        The hope among supporters of this misguided policy was that the new rule would be in place by February 12 so that the extended work period could continue seamlessly.
        That ain’t happening folks.
        A major regulation must be published in the Federal Register 60 days before it goes into effect. Today is the day and no regulation has been published.
        Ironically, supporters of the regulation undermined DHS’s efforts here. The purpose of a comment period is to allow the public to raise issues with proposed regulations. DHS has to respond to the comments made during the comment period. Apparently foreign students were led to believe that the comment period is a vote. (In fact, the agency has to evaluate the merits of each issue raised and cannot consider the volume of comments on either side.) DHS was bombarded with useless comments like “I vote to increase the stem Extention (sic) time period,” with titles like “Mass Mail Campaign 28”. DHS received over 43,000 comments on this proposed rule. By spamming DHS with comments, people claiming to be foreign students simply created more work for DHS by forcing the agency to wade through a larger volume of comments.
        DHS still has to respond to the comments and produce a final regulation. The regulation then has to be approved by the Office of Management and Budget. Finally, it has to be published in the Federal Register to go into effect 60 days later.
        In theory, DHS could go to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (which now has jurisdiction over the case) and move for another delay of vacatur. The Court’s granting of such a delay is not certain, especially because the question of whether DHS failed to give notice and comment is not on appeal. Such a motion would be particularly amusing because DHS would have to explain how its mulligan comment period actually allowed the public to influence the decision on whether non-student aliens could work on student visas for more than a year.
        Hopefully, this whole process will be rendered moot in a few months. The question of whether DHS has the authority to allow non-students to work on student visas at all is before the D.C. Circuit Court. That round kicks off on December 21.
        In the meantime, the ending of OPT extensions on February 12 has not been disturbed by new rule-making. Plan accordingly.

  82. If the court decides to revoke the OPT STEM extension, will students still be eligible for the regular 12-month OPT or does the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers have an issue with this too?

  83. Author

    Blog Post is Updated. Check fo the Link to New Video Interview with Attorney Murali ( under Dec 24, 2015 Update Para).

    Question answered in the Video – What happens After Feb 12, 2016.

    1. In the motion it says “If the Court vacates the 2008 STEM OPT Extension rule before DHS can publish a new final rule, foreign students seeking to continue their course of study through extended optional practical training in a STEM field with a U.S. employer will be prevented from doing so during a regulatory gap. See 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(11)(i)(C)”

      8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(11)(i)(C): Applications for 17-month OPT extension. A student meeting the eligibility requirement in paragraph (f)(10)(ii)(C) of this section may file for a 17-month extension of employment authorization by filing Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with the appropriate fee, prior to the expiration date of the student’s current OPT employment authorization. If a student timely and properly files an application for a 17-month OPT extension, but the Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document, currently in the student’s possession, expires prior to the decision on the student’s application for 17-month OPT extension, the student’s Form I-766 is extended automatically pursuant to the terms and conditions specified in 8 CFR 274a.12(b)(6)(iv)

      Do you think DHS is specifically talking only about new and pending STEM applications

      1. Mark, if you watch the latest video with Attorney Murali that Raghu posted today, it is clear that Mr. Murali seems to think that that applies to all STEM students, even those with already approved EADs, and not just new and pending applications.Emily from the ImmigrationGirl blog seems to think the same thing. (However, I think it is possible that DHS is deliberately ambiguous because they haven’t decided what to do with already approved EADs if the rule does get vacated on Feb 12? I don’t know.).

        Raghu, thank you for that latest video. Were you able to ask Mr. Murali if he personally thinks that the judge will grant the 3 month extension? What does he think are the odds of that happening?

        1. Author

          I *think* DHS doesn’t want to announce that and create mass panic.

          1. and what makes you think that there will not be ‘mass panic’ on Feb 12th when students are working are told to stop working right away? Use your head.

          2. Author

            I’m covering immigration news in this blog since 2007. And I’m using my head.

    2. Raghu, thank you for that video. Were you able to ask Mr. Murali if he thinks that the court will grant the extension? After reading the motion, does he think that the reasons given by DHS for asking for the extension are strong enough that that we have a realistic chance of getting the extension? Thanks.

      1. Author

        I didn’t ask him, but we know that answer to that. We should know the courts decision after Wash Tech responds today in next few days.

        1. “we know that answer to that”… I didn’t understand this, what does this mean? Do you imply that we know that it will be rejected!?

          1. Author

            Which means “Only the Federal Court Judge knows the answer”.

          2. Well lets hope Judge sees the economic impact of this and grants the extension!!

            In the meantime, how will DHS proceed if the extension does not go through. I mean its essentially the responsibility of DHS to officially communicate all the employers and students informing about the already issued EAD cards invalidity..Because if there is no official communication from DHS or School, the issued cards are valid according to the dates on it!! We know because we are following blogs and articles.. But most of the students dont!!

            Dont you guys think this process itself is a 2 month mini project from USCIS and DHS??

            Thanks

          1. Raghuram, in both your updated link as well as Prashanth’s link, it says this: ” This action did *not* apply to the approximately 108,000 3-year work permits that were approved and mailed by USCIS *on or before* the Feb.
            16, 2015, injunction date and that have never been returned or reissued by USCIS.” Doesn’t that mean that what Prashanth said in his comment is correct? That DACA EADs issued before the deadline date were announced to be valid? I don’t see anything in your updated link that contradicts this.
            Please, do correct me if I am missing something.

          2. I am not aware of the specifics of the DACA case though. Was there a stay involved in that case too? Why did USCIS issue 3 year EADs even after the court’s decision on February 16, 2015 (which they later recalled and replaced with 2 year EADs)?

          3. Author

            It was complicated mess 🙂 Right now that case is with Supreme Court. We should know of the court is going to take this case this session. If they don’t take up this session. By next session President Obama will not be n the office and this was one of his Milestone. So, people are hoping the Supreme Court will take this case up.

  84. My OPT expires around the 26th of February. I just applied for an extension a couple of days back. So, I am guessing as I am allowed to work for 180 days after my OPT expires, even if the OPT Extension rule is vacated on 12th Feb, I can still work after that right? And maybe the DHS will approve my application once the new rule comes out? Is that a possibility?

  85. Author

    All: Few updates.

    1. I have split the comments into pages (50 per page) and latest comment are displayed at the top.

    2. If you have commented with valid email id (and confirmed your email), you can write/reply to a comment via email and also read the new comments via email. Max 10 emails per hour.

    3. Ask An Attorney: Added 3 new service in addition to Email and Phone Call options. You can hire Attorney Murali for responding to your RFE on OPT Extension ( and few of our readers have hired him to the respond to RFE). and I always recommend you have an attorney respond to your RFE. Stakes are high!

  86. This is from Stony Brook University’s website, so please remember that this is not legally binding, just what Stony Brooks (and many other DSOs from other universities, judging by some of the

    “UPDATE 2: DHS has requested to extend the deadline from Feb. 12, 2016 to May 10, 2016 to allow time to complete rulemaking, train agency personnel, and coordinate with the community. WashTech has until Jan. 11, 2016 to respond to this request. If the court does not extend DHS’ request, the current STEM OPT rule will expire on Feb. 13, 2016. The ramifications of an expiry on both current and pending STEM OPT students are as yet unknown.”

    So make of that what you will, I guess?

    http://www.stonybrook.edu/commcms/visa/current_students/employment/stem_washtech.html

    1. Hello ASN,
      Isn’t that something we know from start.
      What do you mean by “So make of that what you will, I guess?”?
      Its pretty obvious.

      1. Author

        That’s a common expression of speech that Americans use on daily basis 🙂

      2. Sorry, Neeraj C, for some reason, half my comment disappeared. Here’s what I wanted to point out. On the Stony Brook University website that I’ve linked to, it says: “DHS has announced that it plans to issue guidance on the impact of the decision, but there are no indications that it is planning to truncate the work authorization of F-1 students whose OPT has been extended under the current rule. F-1 students who have already been approved for a 17-month extension of OPT on the basis of a qualifying STEM degree should remain eligible to work through the expiration of their STEM OPT employment authorization document (EAD), even if that date falls after the February 12, 2016 deadline. In the unlikely event that DHS were to fail to meet the deadline, we would not expect it to cancel otherwise valid STEM OPT EADs unless the court were to order such an action. Given DHS’s strong incentive to comply with the court’s order, and the court’s desire to avoid causing hardship to F-1 students and employers, we do not expect this outcome.” Of course, this was written before DHS failed to meet the deadline and asked the court for an extension.

  87. Hi raghu the video which you have uploaded and shared information for all the viewers is this was the response given by Washington alliance after hearing to the response from them did The court tell their decision that is what you both explained us ? Could provide the document or link for page no.8 document filed by dhs to federal court ? And you said in the video that dhs said intially current stem opt approved and already who are in stem opt for them it will not be affected after that you said dhs said for everyone one who stem opt they under review so these things are said today in court by dhs or previously it was mentioned
    after dhs ask the court to extend the time to review the comments and court asked Washington alliance to respond did they respond if they have responded what did they tell ? After listening to that what court said ? Or still court has tell the decision after they hear the response from Washington alliance ? Or still Washington alliance has to tell their response to the court and court waiting for their ? Did the court has responded to the dhs request to extend the time limit from Feb 12 2016 to may 10 2016 . If they have responded what they have responded ?

    In the video attorny mr. Murali bhashyam read the motion and in that he told about the US EMPLOYER COULD YOU PLEASE EXPLAIN WHAT IS THAT ?

    AND MOST OF THE STUDENTS ON OPT AND OPT EXTENSION AND MANY OTHERS HAS SIGNED PETITION TO THE WHITE HOUSE TILL NOW WHAT WORK AND WHAT ACTION DID THEY TOOK TO IMPLEMENT THE OPT EXTENSION ?

    AND WITH IN THIS SHORT TIME what can we do to immediately to implement the opt stem extension rule within this short span

    In this short span will the white house will take the action and implement the rule ? If by chance court is in favour of Washington alliance in coming days will the white house has authority to change the decision and make in favour of students?

    1. Author

      Link to the document and link to the video is in the blog post. Check under Dec 24, 2015 section.

      1. Hi Raghu,

        When are we expecting to hear back from Judge Huvelle about her ruling towards the extension motion by DHS? Is there a time frame for the court decision?

  88. Hi raghu what does the white house has done till now after signing the petition and action did they took on petition which we have signed till now if it didn’t take any action in this short span will they going to take any decision and implement the rule ?
    @raghuram sukumar

    1. The honorable judge Huvelle has not ruled yet. Can only wait and watch … for now!

  89. Dec 24, 2015 – Court gave a deadline of Jan 11, 2016 for Wash Teach to respond to Motion to Extend the Deadline.

    What happened after that? did washTech responded on 01/11/2016?

    1. Author

      I have updated the blog post (Jan 2016) update with motion filed by Wash tech.

      1. I read your post…. I am just confused now..
        I am on OPT extension now starting Dec 2015.. and valid through may 2017. Am i still eligible to work after feb 12th?

        Thanks

          1. That is not correct. It is not known yet, DHS is yet to confirm if people with existing EAD can work. The possibility is high that they can when you compare the similar DACA EAD case last year.

  90. Hello Raghu,

    Did washtech say anything against the motion to the court? When do you think we can expect a decision from court?

    1. Hello All,
      Washtech came back with one of the most deterring articles. I am really sorry but that motion is a 32 page attempt of revoking the OPT Stem Extension for good. The motion instructs the court in a daunting way to not grant the extension as DHS hasn’t ran into something unnatural.
      Let’s not reach a conclusion but it looks very gloomy.

  91. I am currently in OPT extension. Is there any updated news for the Jan 11, 2016 deadline extension? Did Federal Course approved this request?

  92. Author

    I read from page 1 to 18 and then the conclusion. Check out the two paragraphs I added in the blog post (above). That’s’ troubling! Let’s wait for court’s decision.

  93. Just in case the court decides to not grant extension. What happens to the new rule? It still goes through right? So for people whose opt is expiring after may, they can still apply to the new stem extension when it gets passed in May ?

    1. Hey Shanks,

      If the court fails to grant extension, DHS/USCIS might not be able to publish the new rule. Significant and major rules are required to have a 60 day delayed effective date. Since Feb 12th is less than a month away, I doubt USCIS will be able to do anything. Having said that, if the agency wants to make the rule effective sooner, it must provide a persuasive reason as to why this is in public’s interest.

      If the rule goes through, candidates can apply for STEM extension. I suppose we’d have to wait and see. Next few days are going to be crucial.

      1. Hi Karthik,
        I meant, if DHS will be allowed to publish later at the date they plan to publish which is somewhere in May. I know if the court doesn’t grant an extension, the old rule will be vacated, but my question is about the new rule.
        If the court doesn’t grant an extension, does it mean DHS has to stop its reviewing of the comments (which is the stage they are in at present) and scrap the new rule altogether? I mean, they can still go ahead and publish the rule in May right?

  94. Hi Raghuram,

    When does the court respond after Washtech’s Jan 11th response?

    -Thanks

  95. As negative as the WashTech motion may sound it raises some points:
    1) Fed court cannot grant an extension
    2) DHS did not do enough to communicate the vacatur news. I am sure there are many who are unaware of this drama altogether.

    1. Yes I agree. A lot of points in the document are valid arguments. As much as I want to think “Something will work out”, the fact that the deadline is next month is now scaring me.

    2. Sahil,

      1) If the Federal (district) court cannot grant an extension, wouldn’t DHS have filed the motion with the Appeals court instead of the district court?
      Furthermore, wouldn’t Judge Huvelle have told them that they were filing the motion with the wrong court and that she didn’t have jurisdiction on the case any more, instead of asking WashTech for a brief opposing the motion, like she fully intends to make a decision on the case? Emily, the attorney who runs the ImmigrationGirl blog, seems to think that the DHS can ask the Appeals court to remand the case to the district court for Judge Huvelle to implement her decision. Raghu, I am curious about what Attorney Murali thinks about this, and WashTech’s motion as a whole. Would you be able to ask him?

      2) DHS’ lack of communication is an extremely valid point, but I don’t know if it would/should have a bearing on the judge’s decision on whether or not to grant the requested extension. I mean, it would have been really nice if DHS had updated the USCIS website and been better at communicating developments in the case and “what if” scenarios to students, but I think they can argue that they have been communicating with school DSO’s and the DSO’s need to communicate with the students. They can also argue that they were waiting to ask the judge if already granted EADs would still be valid even if the rule is vacated on February 12, before they are able to communicate that information to the students. While not ideal, it is completely legal for DHS to let students know as late as February 12 that they would have to stop working the next day and make plans to leave the country. Judge Huvelle had given DHS 6 months to come up with a new rule and DHS has spent all that time trying to follow her order. I don’t think it was legally binding on them to update their website and keep communicating to students.

      3) I don’t think that the DHS can just ignore the court’s order, but the AILA leadership blog had published an article recently that said that DHS has a couple of options more even if the court doesn’t grant the extension, one of them being appealing this decision to the Appeals court and requesting a temporary stay on the vacatur while the Appeals court reviews the decision.

  96. Raghu,

    Could you advise or search on the possibility of DHS ignoring court ruling altogether ?

    And in case court denies DHS’s motion, what other tricks DHS may have left to save the rule ? I am pretty sure they cant communicate things like returning EAD cards at this point by Feb 12.

  97. thing is even if the rule gets vacated , DHS has to provide that information to us via an official email or letter that your EAD card is invalid , it is DHS who has to inform us , well in that case you can work unless or rather until DHS tells you your application for opt extension is not valid anymore , or say your EAD card (opt extension ) is not valid anymore , I suppose that will take time , atleast 2 weeks , you can work little more earm extra cash , we have to all wait and see , best way is just wait and see , there is no point of any discussion , time is the only thing that will tell us how this drama will eventually end .Best way is to not act unless you have been told by DHS OR the DSO that your EAD is invalid , i Suspect that can take atleast few days to even weeks , unless you are not given a notice or something you can continue working , i mean how many people know this is happening ?? think about them how will they know …?lol they have to be told . The fastest way is email or telling by DSO but that wont be so rapid too ,,thats my opinion ..just wait and see

    1. We have been waiting since past 5 months without any guidance. I was wondering if it is possible for a student to contact USCIS directly and ask about the validity of current EAD? Has anyone tried this and heard anything back?

    2. I think, DHS can let affected students know through a notice on their website.

      But that is not my concern, the problem is as it cuts close to deadline , I and my company have less time to act on alternatives. I am sure new rule will come by May 10 or before that. But the window between Feb 12 and May 10 is of great concern. Problem being how to maintain status in that time ? I am sure no one will be asked to leave the country on Feb 12, just stop working. But what would be the period to prepare to go home would be defined by DHS., and could be at the most 60 days, taking you to April 12th. If in that time rule comes back those with existing EAD cards which were nullified and returned to USCIS on Feb 12th would not have time to apply for new ones.

  98. Wash Tech DID NOT file a motion. Wash Tech responded to DHS’s motion to the court to extend the deadline.

  99. Today I received an email from my University (which is a top US university) stating that my employer will need to terminate my employment by Feb 12th if the court deadline isn’t extended. Looks like things are not going well for us

    1. Can you please also share how much grace period your email has mentioned you could stay before leaving the country. Plus any relevant details.

    2. Rubbish. Either your Univ is not top or they have idiots working in the international students department. Even reputed law firms helped scare everyone with miscommunication and rumors in this case until DHS clarified. At least as of now there is no communication to universities from DHS on taking any action. I am in touch with international student offices of all universities in Philadelphia, and nobody has received any such direction from anyone…

      1. And I can support Sujit on this for Univ of Maryland. No communications at all. The university said I have nothing to worry about as the DHS or USCIS has not informed them about this matter.

        By the way univ rank really has nth to do with this at all. If you have an email share here else stop raising false alarms.

    3. well Unless you dont recieve any information from uscis or your case status shows valid , donot quit the job

    4. If it is Purdue that sent that email, then disregard it. Purdue students called up their ISS yesterday after receiving the email and confirmed that they were just guessing. They have received no official communication from USCIS about this. We had this discussion on the immigrationgirl blog.

    5. Yes, it was Purdue University.Text of the email:

      Dear ***:
      Our records indicate you currently have an active or pending STEM Extension of OPT.
      As you may be aware, in response to a lawsuit filed against the United States Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Rule that introduced the STEM Extension of OPT in 2008 was vacated (eliminated) in August 2015 by the Judge in the District Court of the District of Columbia who was presiding over the case. To give employees and employers an opportunity to make arrangements to pursue other options, the Judge provided for a 6 month Stay (delay) of the vacature of the Rule; that Stay is scheduled to expire on February 12, 2016.
      You can learn more about the case, the court ruling, and the most current information by visiting our website at: http://www.iss.purdue.edu/PracticalTraining/STEM.cfm
      If the Stay of the vacature is not extended by the Court before February 12, 2016, you will no longer be eligible for employment under the OPT STEM Extension employment category, and if you are employed and you are using your STEM OPT Employment Eligibility as the basis of your employment eligibility, your employer will be required to end your employment on February 12, 2016. If you have questions about your options, you may contact our office via email, telephone, or walk-in (during walk-in hours).
      If the Stay is not extended, and if your initial 12 month period of OPT has expired, you must end your employment on February 12, 2016. You will have a 60 day “grace period” from February 12, 2016 in which to consider other options or prepare to exit the United States.
      You must also inform your employer regarding your eligibility for employment so they are aware and can advise you of your options within the organization.
      In our effort to insure you receive this information, you might receive it twice. If you do, we apologize for the extra message.

      With our best regards,

      1. Even I’m a Purdue grad. Yes, all of us got an email from the university.. Got this email yesterday evening . I think they are just giving a heads-up or just want to cover them on whatever happens, that they are not responsible at the end.

      2. I still dont believe this , we will have to wait and see if my university gives me a similar kind of information , DHS has not said anything regardsing this matter specially to leave the country , this looks more like a self opinionated opinion rather than an official update , as long as you put your case status online and it shows its valid , you are good to go , the court gave 6 months to make arrangements ? i dont think so ? the court gave six months to frame the rule by regular public comment period

  100. The system should at least care for those students who came here with this rule intact (that includes me). If I have to go back now, forget about American dreams, with such a huge bank loan even my Indian dreams will be shattered. OPT expiring in March.

    1. Well bank loans cannot be the reason. US Govt or colleges never told you to take a loan and come here. You have provided enough evidence that you can pay the college fees and support your living.

      1. Bank loans specifically cannot be a reason. But in general, hardship to students (namely having to suddenly end employment and leave the country) can be. It was the reason the initial 6 month stay was granted in the first place. It’s why DHS mentions this in their motion requesting the extension.

      2. Hi Andy , warm regards ….. your point is true…. they never told that , you have to understand how the system works , in my field I applied for nearly 200 jobs under OPT to get the training , I got call for 2 interviews , why so many rejections ? I am sure , because many applications straight away rejected me because I was not a local person or a PR holder , I was told ,i repeat I was told that all though I was really really good enough skill wise , they would wait and prefer someone who is local and will not have to apply or renew the work visa , no company wants that …if you apply for internships or training its the same story , at least in my field , I am from Electrical engineering. Point is many of my colleagues are in the same boat too. Now the company that I am working with , they are really happy with me , I increased the productivity , created more jobs because of me they hired 3/4 CAD people , all were locals , point is they hired me inspite of my temporary status is because they could not find a guy as skilled as I was ,they did interview 11 candidates before me, 10 were from Michigan area (local) and one was an international student, i was the 12th one in the line. They have to find the right match ..thats the most important point , Andy … it is not the quanlity of STEM workers but rather the quality that matters . I do understand the illegal practices that has been going on some of the IT firms or consultancies but you cannot generalize the entire OPT program because of that , we do set the standard of any company high , make them more competitive , so what will happen if you completely ban this , fine , companies will start outsourcing people from outside , will they hire more local population as a substitute ? I highly doubt that , they did not meet the requirements in the first place. The skill gap is the cause for that . Its very easy for you to say go away , get out but if you work in a technical sector , you will really understand the contributions that we make to the job market as in whole , I mean america has 100’s and thousands of problems , there are illegals everywhere , but you are just targeting the wrong set of people that’s all I have to say , Wash tech workers are from IT field , they are only seeing what happens in IT field under opt , they are not seeing how the situation is in non-IT fields , in any case you will not understand but in the long run economy will feel the consequences in the tech sector , for years to come . A bunch on immigration lawyers can jump in the air for which they think is the victory for american workers , what they dont understand is that they are doing their economy more harm than good in the long run. PS my employer doesnot do cheap labor , it does not do any illegal activity , I dont understand what the problem is ….. wasn’t that the part of the american constitution to give chance to highly skilled talented technical people to spearhead American tech sector of course without harming the local workforce , which in my case I have given plenty of prove that we don’t , in my field this shit does not happen

        1. Beautiful answer !
          I am not in IT but I do understand the problems caused by malpractices in IT companies specially with regard to twisting the immigration rules. Frankly I am in this situation because of the inability of H1B to tackle “quality vs quantity issue”. Harsh as it may sound even after getting H1B most IT professionals still “work from home” (which can be done from India as well, they dont need to be in the lab to do research and experiments !).

          Still, Washtech needs to spend more energy in tackling the illegals than discouraging the legal ones. They may not fully understand but there will be harsh consequences if foreign students stopped coming to US for research and study due to unfriendly immigration rules.

          1. @Rodrigues, @SDpd : Amazing replies guys. Rodrigues, you nailed it. With their limited vision, WashTech does not understand the tremendous long term impact driving out international tech professionals will have on US economy. There is already some churn in the economy due to international stock markets and oil markets since last 2-3 weeks. Imagine the condition of US economy if 34000+ skilled workers were to leave the country.
            All said and done, we should remain positive no matter what ! May the odds be ever in our favour !! 😀

          2. @ CN

            Well Said! Never give up home, always there is a chance!

        2. US policy makers and citizens should know that STEM is not equal to IT.
          F1 OPT and H-1b is dramatically skewed by IT graduates and cheap IT laborers who come to USA.
          The greedy Indians and the dumb US policy makers are making the day of all the Non-IT STEM graduates!

          Reza

      3. Yeah! agreed bank loans cannot be the reason, but if one is capable enough then why would one need a loan. Does that mean a poor guy who has no money but wants to do masters, has no right of education from good institute.

  101. Don’t worry guys everything will be okay. We are 34,000 + strong. We have to stick together, communicate and share ideas to overcome this hurdle.

    One strategy would be a change of status if the worst case happens on 02/12/2016.
    Because the law states that,
    ” As long as a foreign national files for an Extension of Stay or Change of Status or Adjustment of Status before the period of authorized stay expires, the foreign
    national will be considered to be maintaining status until a decision is made on the application or petition, even if the decision is after the date on the I-94 expires.”

    1. True. Just cannot imagine 34000 + individuals being taken out of the US economy . It would certainly add have a cascading effect. Additionally imagine the thousands of projects that would stall if you take so many skilled workers out of the workforce.

      1. Yes, you are correct Wayne. I am also worried about what will happen to my project if something bad happens after February 12th.
        However my supervisor is a very helpful, he is aware of the STEM OPT situation and told me he would do everything to support me for the H-1B, hopefully by submitting application by the end of February.

        1. @Harsha: Your employer might complete the H1B process by end of Feb. But the filing would not be done till April 1st.
          Plus, as far as I know you will be needed to maintain your status anyways till your H1 period starts (with an assumption of it being picked).
          So, though its a positive sign in a way but its handicapped for now.

        2. @ Harsha,

          Are you working for an IT company or is it different? It all depends on your employer. Provide more details if possible.
          For example, I am working for a museum as an artifact restoration expert, it is a highly skilled profession. The museum is run by a state university and the museum director has instructed HR division to hire me on H-1b. This is cap exempt, NO lottery, NO April 1st filing date!

          Ask from your supervisor if employer is CAP EXEMPT! If so you hit the jackpot!

          Abbas ( PhD in Archaeology 2014)

          1. Dr. Abbas Sir,

            Thank you for the reply.
            My project is done in a state zoo, I work as entomologist ( M.S in Animal Science ). My project, all members including myself is paid by a university. Supervisor said, it is cap exempt and he got the green card using that method. He said he will totally support me. Will I be okay?

            Thank you!
            Harsha

          2. @ Abbas Karim

            Hi Abbas- I have a PhD in water resources engineering and I work for a state agency. My agency never hired an international student on F-1 before and they have no clue if they are exempt from cap-gap. Would you happen to know a database where I can find if my employer is exempt from cap-gap? Any help will be greatly appreciated. I am at a loss here because our HR never did this for anyone. Thanks!

          3. Dr. Abbas,

            My boss said that they will file cap exempt H-1b this week through the university. Boss has instructed the HR to do the process ASAP, since I am an important member of the project done at the zoo and losing me would mean the whole project would be jeopardized!

            Thank you for your guidance sir!

            Harsha

    2. Hey Harsha,

      Thanks. If it could be done, then I think problem is solved for everybody.

  102. Please forgive me if this offenses any of you. I just can’t understand why some people keep emphasizing they haven’t heard anything from DHS or DSO? Does that make people feel more secure? I personal don’t think so. Literally, they do can inform everyone at the last minute. It wouldn’t take DHS more than a day to informal all the schools and it wouldn’t take each school more than a day to informal all its international students. Even if schools don’t keep track of which students are affected, they just need to send a massive email to all the international students and ask people to identify by themselves. At this moment, no news is actually bad news. Isn’t it?

  103. People who are working at non profit universities/community colleges/ high schools affiliated with non profit higher education institutes, research institutes affiliated with non profit higher education institutes should encourage the respective HR division about the option of H-1b cap exempt quickly to keep oneself employed and in status!

    Abbas ( PhD in Archaeology 2014)

  104. The only way of communication that has to be legal is MAIL.
    Because as per STEM OPT requirements, you are required to update your physical mailing address with your University or SEVIS database.

    DHS putting a note on its website cannot bar students from saying already issued EAD is invalid – there is no rule anywhere that a student has to keep checking DHS’s website.

    DSO sending an email is also not a valid means of communication – because there is no rule you have to keep checking your email.

    BUT There is a rule that says you have to provide your most updated physical mailing address – so if you get a mail in your mailbox saying your EAD is invalid – ONLY then its invalid. (If you say you didn’t receive the mail because you moved, then its your fault because as per OPT requirements you are required to update your most recent address)

    So DHS/USCIS will HAVE TO send physical mail to inform the students.
    OR the employer itself has to tell the student that his/her work auth has been revoked.

    UNTIL one of this happens – do not quit jobs or panic.

    1. ImmigrationDon, that is not quite true. An immigration attorney on another blog has opined that DHS just needs to update their website and have the DSO’s send out emails to affected students that their EADs are no longer valid and that they need to stop working. They don’t have to send a physical mail to each and every one of us. Let’s hope that it does not come to it though.

      1. ASN
        If you look at the DACA case where EAD’s were revoked, The USCIS site posts the notification but also says everyone was sent the notice in MAIL.
        Yes – USCIS will post it on the website – they have to. But every affected student whose EAD was approved must be notified via MAIL asking them to return it.

        1. @ImmigrationDon: Although your point is not completely wrong, very recently (last week) I received an email from my DSO which states that Sevis requirements were updated recently and I need to provide the DSO my most recent and valid email address and phone number. She also asked to re-check these details before providing since it is going in Sevis database.

          That counters your argument, somehow. They do have our emails and phone numbers now.

  105. With in a Month this is gonna Happen now i have to think if i have to convert to H4EAD which will take more than 3 months and my job would be in stake

    1. Moulika,

      No offence, but your situation is like a baby crying when someone is going to take a shoe from it. However, here there are people who are going to lose both their legs! At least you have an anchor, in terms of your H-1b spouse.

  106. Just so you know, all employers (even cap-exempt) have to go through 2 rounds of paperwork before they can make the H1B petition to USCIS – and even premium processing takes 3 weeks. All in all, even the fastest H1B takes 6-7 weeks from initiation to completion.
    So even if employer starts to push papers today, we’re looking at a month of unemployment and no medical insurance!

    1. @ Debasish Boral

      Say something bad happens on 02/12/16, still you have 60 days to leave country. During that time if you have initiated change of immigration status then you are okay.
      One should have saved some money for emergencies like this! At least ALL the international students/scholars I know are frugal, saving savvy people. They will overcome hardships!!!

      1. I completely agree with you.
        Its just that I am stating how this thing is going to affect us – for no fault of our own and a complete lack of concern from the DHS. One has to agree with WashTech in that DHS has taken no step whatsoever to keep the 34000+ students informed (though that is no ground for judge Huvelle to deny the motion!) of their options and choices – in time to look for alternatives. Its as if everyone wants to believe “oh were 34000+ – the mighty DHS WILL find a way”! And now with less than a month left, we are left to scramble for ourselves!
        Shame on DHS

        1. I have seen a post in another blog which states that DHS has submitted its reply brief in support of the request for extension.

          Below is the summary

          Reject Washtech’s brief in its entiriety because it is “editorializing on a myerid of immigration policy and other matters that fall outside the scope of DHS’s motion”.

          DHS reiterates that this court has jurisdiction to grant extension.

          DHS asks court to confirm that if the vacatur occurs on Feb 12th that it will not affect the legal status of F-1 students holding unexpired EAD’s granted under 2008 rule.

          DHS asks the court to act as quickly as possible on extension motion.

          Any one with the same update?

          Raghu can you please shed some light here on the DHS’s reply to WASH TECH’s motion?

          1. Author

            Thanks. Why couldn’t DHS asked this since August about what happens from Feb 13, 2016 for those with valid extension. Looks like they don’t know the answer.

          2. Hi Raghu,

            Can we take the DHS’s reply in a different view, like below

            DHS might have thought that they can bring a new regulation before Feb 12th and that is why they don’t want to create a havoc by dealing with all the possible situations like what happens to students in STEM, What happens to students applying STEM from the day of vacatur to Feb 12th time frame, etc.,?

            Why can’t we take DHS is re-confirming the fact that students with approved STEM extensions remain valid even after Feb 12th.

          3. Author

            Then they should have come out with.

            Yes, its valid.. Wait, we take that back. Now, they are asking the Judge 🙂

      2. I got the H-1B premium processing done (I am a post doc in Physics) through my department and the case was approved in 11 days (Date submitted: 12/18/15 — Date approved: 12/29/15).

        There is a preliminary Labour certification approval (step 1) to be obtained before the final forms are submitted to USCIS (step 2) and that typically takes about 7 business days. So if all goes well with your department expediting the paperwork, it will take at most 30-35 days to receive the H-1B approval notice. It is not 6-7 weeks. I hope this helps.

        1. @John,

          You are correct! The community college I work has a Special education unit,. They hired me as a teacher on H-1b visa last week. There was no lottery, no April 1st filing date. It took around two weeks for the paper work to get approved. I have B.S. in Special Education. Good luck every one!

          Sapna

  107. FYI, DHS replied to WashTech’s arguments against the motion yesterday. The most important news is that DHS believes that students with OPT extension today shall remain lawful after the February deadline and asked the court to confirm that.

    1. Author

      DHS is asking the court to clarify that. DHS is not yet confirming EAD’s are valid.

      1. Raghu, I think what Aowoo means is that the DHS wants the current EADs to stay valid even if there is a vacatur on Feb 12, and has posted arguments in favor of this in its brief. The final decision is, of course, up to the judge.

      2. Raghu
        My OPT Extension expires on 1st February 2016. Even if court grants the extension, i believe it won’t help me anyways, right?. Any comments will be greatly appreciated

        1. Author

          You should have backup plans. Like finding other ways to stay in status. Plus, your employer should be doing H1 this April.

          1. Hi Raghu,

            I know we have 60 days to leave the country after the rule gets vacated. However, if the employer files your petition for cap-based H-1b petition on April 1st, can you stay here until a decision is made on the H-1b petition?
            I am evaluating the options if the DHS doesn’t get the extension and already approved STEM gets invalid. Sincerely appreciate your inputs.

            Thanks,

          2. Author

            I don’t think you can stay, since you don’t have status.

    2. Debashish, please remember that though Judge Huvelle ruled that WashTech had a legal ground to challenge the 2008 OPT rule, nine months later, she actually stood by DHS’ right to issue the rule and also found no problem with the rule itself, just the way it was implemented. WashTech actually lost that case (that’s why the went to the Appeals Court), but found a minor victory because the judge vacated the rule (but put a stay on the vacatur) because it was passed in 2008 without comment. I know this doesn’t mean that the judge will definitely grant the extension now, but remember that she could have just vacated the rule back in August without a stay, but she didn’t. Disruption to students and the tech sector was a concern to her then and there is no reason why it wouldn’t be a concern now, especially since DHS has does exactly as she asked and come up with a new rule, and just need a little more time to make it effective.

  108. DHS has reponded to Washtech’s opposition to grant extension, check immigrationgirl blog for updates. DHS asks court to confirm that EAD cards will remain valid after Feb 12 if the extension is not granted. DHS puts in 3 strong points to demolish Washtech arguments and asks court to grant extension and decide as quickly as possible!

  109. If someone OPT expires May 31st, can he/she apply for extension based on the current situation ??

    1. My case is the same. My OPT is expiring on May 31st. Will I be able to apply for OPT extension in the month of February?

  110. DHS has drafted a pretty strong statement for the court and asked for clarity on a pressing question. Late but a job well done !
    Also they may have intentionally not asked for clarity on this to keep issuing cards for as long as they can. They have issued a pretty decent number even after aug last year.

    1. Author

      That could be one reason. In the end we want extension and implementation of the rule.

      1. What if the DHS comes out of the rule after Feb 12th? Will the students with OPT expiring later, say July, be granted the extension then?

      2. If I join in school before or after STEM starts then my F1 status remains valid or not valid after Feb 12th?

  111. I already submitted my application in Nov 2015 when I was eligible to apply for STEM extension. The status of my application on USCIS website says” we have received the application and a receipt has been sent”. The fee has already been withdrawn from my account. Should I be worried?

  112. I applied fro OPT extension in October, 2015
    Still no update, my original opt expired on January 8, 2016.
    What will be the impact on me ?
    Although ,I got 180 days extension by Default.

    1. Hi Deepika,

      My STEM OPT application was received by USCIS on 09/23/2015, got RFE in November. After submitting evidence got the EAD card with 17 month extension on 12/02/2015.

      Did you ask by calling the USCIS phone number ?

      Good luck!

      Rahul

  113. Hi

    Any comments or updates on recent DHS response to Wash-tech opposition on OPT STEM ext motion which got requested for a stay up-to 3 months ?

    Thanks

  114. It’s unjust and betrayal on part of US government. I think if you want to cancel a rule you should have proper timeline to phase it out. It shouldn’t be on a whim. The OPT and STEM extension was the reason most of the students chose US over Australia/Canada. I think if the rule is vacated mid way, then US universities and US itself will take a hit in terms of its credibility and reliability. Vacating a rule all of a sudden and making STEM students suffer is irresponsible and cruel. On top of that it feels really sad that we don’t have a voice, we are totally dependent on DHS and have become mere spectators. I was optimistic that 100,000 signatures on the petition to white house for STEM extension would make US government do some good, at the least they could have cancelled the STEM extension in future, so that those coming to US for studies would have made a well informed decision. But it seems in the end it’s all business ;(