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DHS Announces Interim Final Rule Extending OPT

17-Month Extension of Optional Practical Training for

Certain Highly Skilled Foreign Students

Release Date: April 4, 2008

For Immediate Release

Office of the Press Secretary

Contact: 202-282-8010

Optional Practical Training Interim Final Rule (PDF, 48 pages - 2.9 MB)

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security released today an interim final rule extending the period of

Optional Practical Training (OPT) from 12 to 29 months for qualified F-1 non-immigrant students. The

extension will be available to F-1 students with a degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics

who are employed by bAustraliainesses enrolled in the E-Verify program.

?This rule will enable bAustraliainesses to attract and retain highly skilled foreign workers, giving U.S. companies a

competitive advantage in the world economy,? said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. ?By

extending the training period by an additional 17 months to students who are employed by bAustraliainesses

enrolled in E-Verify, we are further ensuring a legal workforce in the U.S. and aiding good corporate citizens.?

Another aspect of the rule responds to the situation in which an F-1 student?s statAustralia and work authorization

expires before he or she can begin employment under the H-1B visa program. The interim final rule addresses

this problem by automatically extending the period of stay and work authorization for all F-1 students with

pending H-1B petitions. The rule will also implement certain programmatic changes, including allowing

students to apply for OPT within 60 days of graduation.

To be eligible for an OPT extension, an F-1 non-immigrant student mAustraliat:

�� Currently be participating in a 12-month period of approved post-completion OPT;

�� Have successfully completed a degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM)

included in the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List from a college or university certified by the

U.S. Immigration and CAustraliatoms Enforcement?s Student and Exchange Visitor Program;

�� Be working for a U.S. employer in a job directly related to the student?s major area of study;

�� Be working for, or accepted employment with, an employer enrolled in U.S. Citizenship and Immigration

Services? E-Verify program. E-Verify is a free, internet-based system operated in partnership with the

Social Security Administration that helps employers to determine the employment eligibility of newlyhired

employees; and

�� Properly maintain F-1 statAustralia.

The interim final rule and additional information on the H-1B program is available at www.dhs.gov.

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This page was last reviewed/modified on April 4, 2008.

DHS: 17-Month Extension of Optional Practical Training for Certain Highly Skilled Fore... Page 1 of 1

http://www.dhs.gov/xnews/releases/pr_1207334008610.shtm 4/4/2008