On January 23, 2016, the federal district judge that ruled on STEM OPT in August of 2015, granted the Department of Homeland Security an additional 3 months to prepare a final regulation for STEM OPT.  The decision to vacate the existing STEM OPT rule has thus been delayed until May 10, 2016.  This ruling means that:

  • Students with existing STEM OPT authorization can work beyond February 12, 2016, as long as they have a valid EAD and continue to abide by existing STEM OPT rules (employment with a E-Verify employer, updating employer and address information with their schools, etc.)
  • USCIS can continue to accept new applications for STEM OPT extensions and may approve them under the existing regulations which allow 17 month extensions

This ruling does not constitute an approval of the proposed replacement rule, which was published in October, 2015 and which received more than 50,000 public comments.  The Department of Homeland Security is expected to publish the final rule on STEM OPT this spring. 

Students are reminded that there could be significant differences between the proposed and final rules on STEM OPT.  Use caution when making decisions based upon assumptions on what might be contained in the final rule.  OIS will provide more information as we receive it but we also remind you that we do not receive information on government regulations before they are made public.

In the meantime…be sure that you have kept the Office of International Services informed of your current employer and address, and that if you are on an existing STEM extension you have made your required 6 and 12 month reports.  This may be done via an eform in iHopkins (www.ihopkins.edu).  You can access iHopkins with your JHED ID and password, if still active, or through “limited services” with your alpha-numeric university ID, date of birth, and iHopkins PIN.  (If you have forgotten your iHopkins PIN, you can obtain this through a link on iHopkins.)  If you have troubles with reporting your information in iHopkins, send an email to ois@jhu.edu including “OPT Reporting” in the subject line.

We realize the H-1B filing season will be coming soon and with that, requests for Cap Gap extensions.  We will be in touch with you on that process when details are available.