Since 2008, DHS has permitted F-1 students whose study was in a STEM field and whose employer is an E-Verify participant to have an additional 17-month period of OPT (Optional Practical Training). Thousands of students and E-Verify employers have benefited from this extended period of employment authorization. The work of these students has resulted in a challenge to STEM OPT by tech workers; specifically a suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Washington Alliance of Technology Workers v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
On August 12, 2015, the Judge before whom the case is pending VACATED the STEM OPT Extension program as its creation failed to comply with the notice and comment requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). The court recognized the serious disruption that would result from the immediate implementation of her finding, so stayed the order for 6 months, during which time DHS could comply with the requirements of the APA.
The litigation continues and hopefully, STEM OPT will be able to continue uninterrupted beyond February 12, 2016.