There is a panic spread all over the International student community in the United States that OPT is going to be shrinked to 12 months from 29 months cutting down the 17 months OPT extension.

Here are the must know things about the OPT Extension and its Future:

Its a rule from DHS implemented in 2008 to help STEM Students and Technology Companies.

  • In 2008, U S Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has brought into implementation the STEM extension which would give an additional 17 months of work authorization for the students graduating in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics ( STEM ) courses.
  • DHS moved this regulation very fast so as to help the thousands of students who haven’t got the H1B Visa and were in a situation to leave the jobs and move back to their respective countries.  This move from DHS has helped the students and the technology companies giving an opportunity to file for H1B more than once within the 29 months increasing the time and possibility for the talented resource to stay in US and work.

Its a rule that changed the face of Masters Education in USA:

  • This STEM extension gives the students 2-3 opportunities to apply for H1-B visa and work for 29 months with OPT Extension.
  • This makes the students to work for 29 months making it financially viable for the International students to move to USA and study in the STEM courses. Also helped the Technological companies to hire the talented students without going through the complex process of H1B visa for a period of 29 months.
  • This made the STEM courses a go to destination for the international students in USA.


President OBAMA and the Technology Leaders are Pro STEM:

There are enough figures which clearly make any sensible leader from politics of technology makes them pro- International STEM students.

  • “STEM jobs are growing at 1.7 times the rate of non-STEM jobs, and the U.S. is simply not producing enough candidates to fill them. Only 16% of high school seniors are interested in pursuing STEM careers, according to the Department of Education.The Obama administration is investing millions of dollars to produce an additional one million STEM undergrads by 2022. But that would barely fill the projected shortage in STEM jobs.” – CNN
  • This deficit in the STEM resources needs huge increase in International STEM resources moving to USA to help US economy grow.There are also proposals to increase STEM OPT to 45 months and process green card thereafter getting rid of the H1 B.
  • India ranks 2nd in International Students of USA, who contributed a total of $ 5,22,45,02,884 ( 5.2 Billion Dollars)  in the period of 2008-2012.

Indian Students in USA

Data Source:


The case against the OPT extension and the Judgement:

  • Court felt that the immediate cancellation would be disruptive putting thousands of F1 students with work authorization to leave the employment immediately and move back to the respective countries and will also impact the companies.
  • Court agreed with the violation and cancelled the 2008 ruling of OPT Extension. While making the judgement, court took into consideration the thousands of employees and the companies who would be effected by the judgement if they have to be implemented immediately.
  • HMS argues that there was an emergency need and the rule had to bypass the Notice and Comment requirement. Court felt that the reasons where generic and not specific enough to consider as emergency.
  • Plaintiff Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, and organization representing STEM graduates has sued US Department of Homeland Security saying that it has violated the Notice and Comment requirements while passing the regulation in 2008 to extend the OPT extension from 12 months to 29 months.
  • STEM graduates from various countries and the H1 B visa holders are the employees all the major technology and engineering companies depend on to meet their human resource needs. They stand as backbone to the Innovation and Entrepreneurial growth of USA.
  • Court has looked upon the case as a rule that can be fixed, which is to comply with the notice and comment which it to keep the regulation in public domain and take the feedback from the people before making it a rule.
  • Court gave a time duration of 6 months for DHS to come up with a rule that would comply with the regulations and kept the orders on hold until Feb 12th, 2016.

Complete copy of Ruling 

As a summary, Court cancelled the STEM extension as the rules weren’t following in the implementation of the ruling by DHS but agreed that it can be fixed and is important for the students and companies to have better rule in place.  


Growing support for the Pro-OPT extension move:


  • Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Reid Hoffman ( Co founder, Linkedin) , Drew Houston ( CEO, Drop Box )  and many other technology leaders came together to support Immigration for the H1B and the Technology resources and found Fwd.US  which fights for various immigration reforms including the increase of OPT term, Increasing the existing H1 B quota by 3 times, Entrepreneur Visa and other reforms.

Major Supporters of organization: 

fwd immigration


The Students and the Pro-STEM community has also responded in huge numbers in an online petition to support of timely introduction of a new rule for OPT Extension.

Its the 5th most popular active Petition on the White House Website.  

The petition has 72,122 signatures so far and you can add more to it by signing the Petition here

USA is the most powerful country for the technology and the economic impact it has, in which they international students come contribute a major part.

Any progressive step would only increase the OPT extension and the flexibility for the international technology community to contribute to US economy.

Well, all that needs to be done to maintain the Status Quo is that the DHS has to pass the same ruling that it passing in 2008 with a Notice and Comment procedure which has to be complete by February 12th 2016.

Get the facts right and stay focused on your Career.

Wishing the students Good Luck on their career path.!  – South Report.

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