Student Visa – Immigration Law: Extension of Optional Training Period for certain foreign students extended- new rules take effect May 10, 2016
An immigration benefit for students has recently been expanded. Certain foreign nationals with student visas who earn degrees from US institutions of higher education in the fields of science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) may remain in the country for Optional Practical Training (OPT) after completing their studies. Students with student visas who have been granted permission to remain in the United States for twelve months of OPT may now extend their stay for an additional 24 months, pursuant to rules set forth by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and which go into effect on May 10, 2016. This replaces the prior 17-month extension that was already in effect. In order to qualify, the OPT must be in same field as the student’s primary area of study.
Along with the additional immigration benefit, regulations and oversight have been put into place along with this extension. For example, employers must provide a formal training plan, DHS may conduct announced and unannounced site visits, and US full, part-time, permanent or temporary workers may not be replaced by students in OPT programs. Students and employers will also be required to complete evaluations and report their progress to DHS throughout the period of training. They must also report any changes to the training program or employment status.
These regulations may benefit many current students and recent graduates of Penn State. If you are a student or an employer and have a question about a student visa or other immigration law matter, call The Mazza Law Group to speak with an immigration lawyer who can explain your rights and the benefits for which you may be eligible.