On Saturday, January 23, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted DHS's request for an extension of time to implement new STEM OPT regulations. Originally, the Court stayed the invalidation of the current STEM OPT regulations and gave DHS until February 12, 2016, to implement the new rule. On October 19, 2016, DHS published the new rule as part of the required notice and comment period. On December 22, 2016, DHS requested an extension of this deadline in light of the large amount of comments (over 50,000) the agency received during the notice period. This weekend, the District Court granted DHS's request for an extension to May 10, 2016, giving the agency almost three additional months to review the comments received during the notice period and publish a final rule.
This extension comes as a welcome relief to STEM students given the uncertainty surrounding their status and employment authorization if DHS did not meet the original February deadline. DHS will hopefully provide clarification as to whether individuals with STEM extension requests pending at the time the new regulation takes effect will be eligible for a 17-month extension under the old regulation or a 24-month extension under the new regulation . Students who will become eligible to file a STEM extension between now and May 10 should contact immigration counsel to discuss the timing of the filing prior to submitting their extension request.
D&S will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as they become available.