On Jan. 23, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia granted the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) additional time–until May 10, 2016–before the court’s vacatur of the 2008, 17-month Optional Practical Training (OPT) STEM Extension rule would go into effect. DHS requested this additional time to review more than 50,000 comments it received in response to the proposed rule. As previously reported, WashTech opposed DHS’ request arguing that the District Court did not have jurisdiction. However, the District Court found that because an extension of the stay would not have any effect on the issues currently on appeal, it retains jurisdiction over defendant’s motion, and need not seek remand.
Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle stated in her decision:
“… the equities that warranted a stay in the first place—undue hardship to STEM OPT participants and employers—remain the same. The significance of that hardship cannot be overstated. According to DHS, there are approximately 23,000 STEM OPT participants; 2,300 dependents of STEM OPT participants; 8,000 pending applications for STEM OPT extensions; and 434,000 foreign students who might be eligible to apply for STEM OPT authorizations.”
As the annual H-1B cap approaches, the anticipation of the implementation of this new rule remains strong, as the new ruling could affect many students whose cases are chosen in the lottery selection.