NEW YORK: A recent US court ruling has made it amply clear that the US government’ OPT stem policy is due to be overhauled and the recent expansion, may soon be rolled back altogether. The recent ruling could well impact tens of thousands of overseas workers, currently employed at IT firms on a student visa and may well result in them being repatriated back to their home countries.
Currently, the department of Homeland security or DHS made it possible for undergraduates currently on F1 visas and graduating with certain STEM degrees to get Optional Practical Training (OPT) work licenses, valid for a period as long as six years, equal to H-1B visa holders. This has come into effect after on February 12, 2016, and while the current court ruling does restrict OPT extension it nevertheless makes it possible for certain STEM undergraduates to obtain a work permit and to remain in the US for a longer period of time…
The decision by U.S. Area Court Judge Ellen Huvelle of the District of Columbia, on August 12, was an exemplary instance of a one-two punch for the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WATW). They really won the claim they had sought against permitting F1 visa understudies graduating with STEM degrees extra OPT time – but with DHS making it amply clear that they want the OPT on par with H 1 visa program, they are bound to argue against the current court ruling and may even appeal the same.
That is on account of the fact that undergraduates bring in more work, are more productive and contribute more to the host country and if the current OPT programs are scrapped, this would lead to students seeking opportunities elsewhere.
The judge, because of the WATW claim to cut short the extra seventeen months of Optional Practical Training for those undergraduates who graduate from certain disciplines, and to restrict it to only twelve months, decided that Government must abandon the current expansion which became effective from last February.
The judge confirmed that the standard used by the Department of Homeland security was inadequate on the grounds that the office neglected to distribute guidelines, and follow official process as mandated by Federal laws, as indicated by Seyfarth Shaw, an immigration law firm.
Recognizing that rolling back the expansion right away would be problematic and hurtful to the nation as a whole the judge decided to give the government some time to come back with a proposal, a period amid which DHS may present the guideline for legitimate open notice and remark to “cure the imperfection”. Meanwhile, DHS has petitioned the court to extend the time for a few more months, by which time they would present arguments in support of their position regarding OPT policies. At the moment, any undergraduate on F I visa, and who have completed one of the disciples shortlisted for STEM, can apply for the OPT program, with a year for non-STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) related projects – or 29 months, for STEM-related projects.
Recently, the DHS began to give work licenses to certain H-4 visa holders who meet the required criteria, as set out by DHS. It’s additionally vital to recall that opposition for H-1B visas has expanded considerably. In 2016 H-1B met its cap within a few months itself, about 65,000 H-1B visas for gifted laborers from abroad and 20,000 visas for F1 undergraduates. The USCIS got roughly 233,000 H-1B petitions, about three times the quantity of accessible visas.