The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released an interim final rule on April 4, 2008, extending the period of Optional Practical Training (OPT) from 12 to 29 months for qualified F-1 non-immigrant students. The extension is available to F-1 students with a degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) who are employed by businesses enrolled in the E-Verify program.
The rule also addresses situations in which an F-1 studentís status and work authorization expires before he or she can begin employment under the H-1B visa program. The interim final rule addresses this by automatically extending the period of stays and work authorization for all F-1 non-immigrant 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.