The United States District Court sitting in D.C. ordered that the lawsuit regarding the 17 month STEM OPT extension be stayed further until May 10, 2016. This means that foreign nationals on STEM OPT may continue to work and their work authorization will remain valid and not impacted by this lawsuit until at least May 10, 2016.
At present, students who graduate with a qualified Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) degree, and are currently in an approved post-completion OPT period based on their designated STEM degree, may apply for a 17-month STEM extension of their post-completion OPT. Subsequently, a proposed rule by the Department of Homeland Security sought to extend the available STEM OPT time to a total of 36 months. However, this past year a lawsuit was brought against the Department of Homeland Security alleging that the original 17 month STEM extension was invalid because the rule was proposed without going through proper notice and comment rulemaking. Because of this lawsuit, countless foreign nationals working pursuant to their STEM OPT have been unsure if their work permission will continue to be valid and if so for how long. Additionally, potential STEM OPT applicants have been unsure if they are able to gain work permission under STEM OPT in the future. Stern & Curray will continue to monitor the status of the STEM OPT lawsuit and will post the most up-to-date information on our blog. Stay tuned!