A federal judge in the district court for the District of Columbia concluded Monday that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has legal authority to allow foreign students to work in the U.S. after graduation under Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Key Points:

  • The judge granted summary judgment to DHS and the parties that intervened in the lawsuit in support of OPT, the National Association of Manufacturers, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Information Technology Industry Council.
  • This means the judge has validated the government’s authority to allow OPT, and has rejected the plaintiffs’ challenges to the program, without a full trial.
  • The judge cancelled the status conference that had been scheduled for Dec. 1 and will issue a memorandum opinion and final order confirming these conclusions, “absent extraordinary circumstances,” in the next 60 days.
  • The Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (“WashTech”) first filed suit challenging the government’s authority to allow OPT in 2014 and litigation has been ongoing since then.

BAL Analysis: This is a significant victory, as it upholds the validity of the OPT program and the STEM extension. Current rules governing these programs remain in place. The judge is expected to issue a final ruling explaining his reasoning in the next 60 days. WashTech will likely appeal the ruling. BAL will continue to provide updates on important developments relating to OPT.

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

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