Back in October 2015, when the much-anticipated proposed STEM OPT rule was published, it was expected that the government would be able complete its rule making and publish a final rule before the February 12, 2016 deadline.
It is now apparent that the government could not complete the rule making process due to the unprecedented number of comments received in response to the proposed rule.
As a result, on December 22, 2015, the government filed a motion to extend the current STEM OPT rule for 90 days, until May 10, 2016. Given the 50,000+ comments received by the government, the court may grant the government’s motion due to exceptional circumstances.
If the court grants the government’s motion, validly issued STEM OPT EAD will continue to be valid, and USCIS will continue to accept STEM OPT EAD applications before May 10, 2016.
If that motion is denied, the government may still delay the February 12, 2016 deadline by filing a motion to stay the court’s injunction while the court considers the merits of the rulings in the underlying case.
If both motions are denied, STEM OPT will cease on February 12, 2016. In that scenario, questions remain whether STEM OPT EAD cards that were issued with validity beyond February 12, 2016 will be valid beyond that date. USCIS indicated that this issue is currently under view.
Immigration Law Group will continue to monitor and post updates on this evolving issue.