On March 11, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced final rules amending optional practical training (OPT) regulations for students with F-1 nonimmigrant visas. The new immigration law, which goes into effect on May 10, 2016, allows F-1 visa-holding students pursuing an education in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math who are currently engaged in the 12-month OPT program to extend their training by an additional 24 months. As the immigration attorneys at Berd & Klauss, PLLC in New York explain, the new rules allow greater opportunity for F-1 students while increasing government oversight of the program.
Under existing immigration law, certain STEM students may apply for a 17-month extension to their OPT program. All extension applications submitted before May 9 will be considered under those rules, unless an additional 7-month extension has also been requested.
The rule changes place additional restrictions on employers, who must now submit formal training programs for all employees who are in OPT programs and must report any changes in the student's employment status. The new rules also include wage protections for nonimmigrant workers, as well as provisions enabling site visits from DHS agents to ensure compliance.
The new rules, which bring considerable opportunity to students, also place new burdens on applicants. As of May 10, the OPT program will only be available to STEM students with degrees from fully accredited institutes of higher learning within the United States, who must now submit regular evaluations to USCIS.
The frequent rule changes make navigating the immigration law process difficult and overwhelming. For years, people around the world have relied on Berd & Klauss, PLLC's expertise in dealing with even the most complex matters. Visit their website to learn more about their reputation and legal services, or just call (212) 461-7152 to schedule a consultation today.