The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments Tuesday on a challenge to the legality of the STEM-OPT regulations.

The challenge was brought by the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WashTech), which claimed that the regulations violate the Administrative Procedures Act, discriminate against American tech workers and increase the number of foreign employees in direct competition with U.S. workers for tech jobs. The lawsuit was dismissed in the district court, which found that WashTech lacked standing to challenge the underlying 1992 OPT rule and did not allege sufficient facts to assert their claim against the 2016 STEM- OPT regulation.

The 2016 regulation allows F-1 student visa holders who have degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) fields to extend their one-year Optional Practical Training (OPT) period for an additional 24 months. The 1992 regulation, which WashTech is also challenging, introduced the one-year OPT for certain F-1 students.

BAL Analysis: While the Trump administration is reportedly considering new regulations to limit or eliminate STEM-OPT, the government defended the decision of the district court to dismiss the case on procedural grounds. Observers consider it likely that the court of appeals will affirm the lower court’s dismissal of this lawsuit. BAL will continue to monitor any developments regarding the STEM OPT program and will alert client to any significant changes.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact

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