US OPT rules confirmed: Foreign STEM grads can now stay and work for up to three years


  • New regulations were introduced in the US earlier this month to govern post-study work rights for foreign students studying in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields
  • STEM is a major area of study for international students in the US, accounting for roughly 40% of all international enrolment in American higher education
  • Scheduled to come into effect on 10 May 2016, the new rule allows a 24-month extension of Optional Practical Training (OPT) for foreign STEM graduates, meaning that, in addition to an initial one-year OPT period allowed all foreign graduates in the US, that those completing a STEM programme may stay and work for up to three years after graduation
  • However, the STEM extension for OPT remains under a pending court challenge that currently rests with the US Court of Appeals, and observers anticipate the possibility of additional legal action against the regulations in the future