NACE Logo NACE Center Logo
National Association of Colleges and Employers NACE Center for Career Development and Talent Acquisition®
mobile menu
  • Update: STEM OPT Extension Final Rules Published

    March 31, 2016 | By NACE Staff

    Legislation & Regulations
    STEM students apply their knowledge on the job.

    TAGS: public policy, advocacy, STEM

    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released final rules around STEM OPT extension on March 9, 2016. The rules were published in the March 10 issue of the Federal Register.

    The rules will go into effect no later than May 10, 2016.

    The complete rules are available in PDF format.


    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 employers 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.

    Note: In fall 2015, NACE joined with NAFSA and other higher education associations to provide comments on the proposed rules.