The interim final rule regarding the extension of optional practical training (OPT) for certain foreign national students was published in today’s Federal Register, meaning the rule is now in effect.
The final rule will be issued after the Department of Homeland Security reviews public comments, which must be submitted by June 9, 2008.
The rule extends OPT for two categories of students. The first is for pending H-1B applicants who are caught in the cap gap caused by the limited annual availability of visas. Those applicants with a start date of Oct. 1, 2008, when the new H-1B visas become available, but whose OPT period will expire before Oct. 1, 2008 will receive an automatic extension of their OPT to cover them through Oct. 1, 2008, assuming the H-1B application is approved.
If the application is denied, the student has 60 days to leave the country from the date of notification of the denial.
The second category of students to benefit from the new rule are those who hold degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics and whose employers are enrolled in the controversial E-Verify program. OPT for these students is being extended from 12 months to 29 months, a 17-month increase.
The published rule in the Federal Register is available here: http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/pdf/E8-7427.pdf
For more information about this new rule, please see our earlier article OPT Extension to Benefit H-1B applicants and STEM students.