United States: The New STEM OPT Program: What Employers Need to Know

The new program, which takes effect May 10, 2016, means increased work authorization for qualifying F-1 STEM students and new obligations for students, employers and schools.

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A substantially revised STEM optional practical training (OPT) program will take effect on May 10, 2016. The new program expands OPT to 36 months for F-1 students with a qualifying U.S. STEM degree - 12 months of initial OPT plus a 24-month extension of OPT - but imposes significant new obligations on students, employers and schools.

The new requirements will apply only to those seeking a grant of STEM OPT under the new regulations. The standard 12-month OPT program will remain unchanged. F-1 students granted a 17-month STEM OPT extension before May 10, 2016 will remain subject to the prior STEM rules unless they file for an additional seven months of OPT under the new rules.

Fragomen has prepared preliminary answers to employers' frequently asked questions about the new STEM OPT program and its transitional rules . In the weeks leading up to May 10, we expect the Department of Homeland Security to issue guidance on how the new program will be implemented. These FAQs will be updated as DHS provides further clarification about the new rule.

If your organization has questions about the new STEM OPT program, please contact your designated Fragomen professional. This alert is for informational purposes only.

© 2016 Fragomen Worldwide


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