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“STEM OPT February 12th Deadline Extended – DHS Now Has More Than Enough Time to Ensure Future EAD and Status Validity”

By Peter F. Asaad

To those tens of thousands of students on STEM OPT who have feared their EAD and status validity may expire February 12, 2016, there is good news; the judge just ordered an extension to May 10, 2016 giving DHS more than enough time to finalize the new regulation which the judge has required DHS to pass to cure the defect.  The rule has already been proposed and is on its way to being finalized.

Although the Plaintiff Washtech had sought an order from the judge to end STEM OPT as ultravires, the judge ruled simply that a new regulation confirming the the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) must be passed to cure the noncompliance with the Act.

Ultimately, not only will this new regulation soon be passed that will ensure students’ continued EAD and status validity, the new regulation DHS is passing will give current OPT STEM students an opportunity to apply for an additional 7 months and future OPT STEM students a full 24 months (in addition to the general OPT 12 months).  This will be of great impact to STEM OPT students applying for an H-1B this April who may not get randomly selected under the cap lottery.  Indeed, some students did not get lucky enough last year and have been feeling that this is their last chance to get elected under the lottery.  The additional 7 months will give them another bite at the apple should they not get selected.