STEM” extensions of F-1 OPT work authorization invalidated by D.C. federal court

News Release from Jewell & Associates, PC On August 12, 2015 the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia invalidated the 2008 interim final rule of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that created eligibility for a 17-month extension of F-1 OPT work authorization for graduates whose F-1 OPT work authorization was based on a degree in a “STEM” field. The court found that DHS failed to provide the legally required notice and comment period that must accompany any significant new rule, and failed to show sufficient justification to bypass the normal notice and comment requirement and issue the rule via emergency rulemaking.

Although the court invalidated the 2008 rule and its amendments, it placed an immediate six-month stay on the vacatur, until February 12, 2016. Practically, this means that existing F-1 OPT STEM extensions remain valid through February 12, 2016. It is not yet clear what the court ruling means for USCIS’s action on pending or new applications for STEM extensions. If DHS reintroduces the 2008 rule with a proper notice and comment period, and it takes effect before February 12, 2016, there should be no disruption to STEM OPT processes or employment.

© Jewell & Associates, PC 2015