The ABCs of Immigration: The New OPT Rule


On April 4, 2008, USCIS released a new interim regulation that makes two major changes:

a. students with degrees in certain STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) may apply for extensions of their optional practical training time by an additional 17 months if their employers participate in E Verify, the electronic employment verification system; and

b. any student on OPT seeking a change of status to H-1B status may receive an automatic extension of their status and employment authorization until H-1B time starts on October 1st or when the H-1B application is denied.

The two rules are expected to dramatically improve the prospects of students with STEM backgrounds graduating from US universities since they will be able to continue employment long enough to have two additional opportunities to be selected in the H-1B annual lottery and potentially receive employment authorization tied to a permanent residency petition. For other students seeking to change to H-1B status, the ability to continue working without a “cap-gap” will reduce disruptions significantly.

Please see full alert for more information.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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