NACE Journal, April 2016
New Rules: STEM OPT
In November 2015, NACE joined with NAFSA and 10 other higher education associations to support proposed rules for STEM OPT extension. On March 9, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released the new rules, which were subsequently published in the March 10 issue of Federal Register. The new rules go into effect no later than May 10.
Among other changes, the new rules:
- Lengthen the STEM OPT extension period, from 17 months to 24 months. The rules also make F-1 students who subsequently enroll in a new academic program and earn another qualifying STEM degree at a higher educational level eligible for one additional 24-month STEM OPT extension.
- Provide a definition for STEM and CIP categories: The rules define which fields of study (CIP categories) may serve as the basis for a STEM OPT extension.
- Require employers to implement formal training programs.
- Expand eligibility to previously earned STEM degrees.
- Require employers to guard against adverse impacts on U.S. workers; these include requiring employers to attest that the student will not replace a full- or part-time, temporary, or permanent U.S. worker.
- Improve the integrity of the STEM OPT extension by limiting eligibility to students with degrees from schools accredited by an accredited agency recognized by the Department of Education; clarifying DHS discretion to conduct employer site visits; and instituting new employer reporting requirements.
- Alter the number of days an F-1 student can remain unemployed during the practical training period from a total of 120 days to 150 days.
For more information and a link to the complete rules, see www.naceweb.org/public-policy-and-legal/legislation-and-regulations/update-stem-opt-extension-final-rules-published/.
Overtime Pay: New Rules Proposed
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is proposing rules for overtime pay for executive, administrative, and professional employees—“white collar” workers.
Under existing rules, those deemed “white collar” workers who earn less than $23,660 annually are classified as nonexempt and qualify for overtime pay. Under the proposed rules, the salary threshold would be raised to include those who earn less than $50,440.
Final regulations are not expected until summer.
WIOA: Final Regulations Slated for Summer 2016
The Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) went into the effect in July 2015, but final regulations are not expected to be released until summer 2016.
Designed to transform federally funded job training programs, WIOA:
- Mandates cooperation among U.S. Department of Education, DOL, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- Aligns DOL and Rehabilitation Act programs.
- Strengthens and streamlines business-led state and local work force development boards.
- Emphasizes including employers so that training is aligned with needed skills.
- Improves services to individuals with disabilities.
For more about WIOA, see www.doleta.gov/WIOA/