The Department of Homeland Security has submitted its final rule on the Optional Practical Training (OPT) extension for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students for review by the Office of Management and Budget.

This step means that the rule is in the final stages of approval. The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) within OMB will now review the rule prior to its final publication in the Federal Register. OIRA is responsible for coordinating interagency executive branch review of significant regulations before publication.

DHS proposed the new regulation, “Improving and Expanding Training Opportunities for F-1 Nonimmigrant Students with STEM Degrees and Cap-Gap Relief for All Eligible F-1 Students,” on Oct. 19 after a federal judge concluded that the previous rule authorizing the extension must be invalidated for procedural deficiencies. When DHS received more than 50,000 comments from the public on its proposal, the judge allowed the agency until May 10 to finalize the new regulation.

BAL Analysis: Current rules on the STEM OPT program remain in place at this time. DHS is expected to issue the final regulation with a 60-day delayed effective date, meaning the rule will become operative 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register. The agency’s submission of the final rule to OMB indicates that it is on track to meet the court’s deadline. BAL continues to monitor the regulatory process, as well as the lawsuit challenging OPT that continues in the appellate court.

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