DHS proposes changes to OPT period
Foreign students and graduates, take note: you may be able to work in the U.S. for longer. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is aiming to improve the optional practical training program (OPT), which allows foreign students or graduates to temporarily work in the U.S. This program gives them the chance to further their education by gaining experience in their field of study. OPT is available before and after completion of an academic program to some students holding an F-1 Visa.
As it stands, foreign students and graduates can work up to 29 months in the U.S. if they receive certain STEM degrees (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). On October 16, the DHS published proposed changes to OPT, including an extension of the time limit from 29 to 36 months. DHS explained that this extension would increase the academic benefits of the program and have advantages for American universities and employers as well, attracting international students in STEM fields and increasing an employer’s ability to rely on these students’ skills.
Other proposed changes include adding wage protections for students and workers, and “more oversight” of the OPT program extensions. Employers would be required to provide formal training and mentoring plans.
This proposal is part of President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration. The administration was considering the extension of the OPT time limit and wanted a way to keep track of the students and graduates using the OPT program.
How does one apply for OPT? First, a designated school official must recommend the OPT program. Then, the student must apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) using Form I-765. If the application is approved, the student will receive an EAD. It is important to only start working after the EAD is received. According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, performing work without an EAD can negatively affect immigration status now and in the future.
Berardi Immigration Law always helps you cross the border with confidence. If you are interested in immigrating to the United States, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with of our attorneys today!