Previous week the Homeland Security Department had proposed the expansion of OPT program for the college students who are in the US on the non immigrant F-1 visa.
The OPT program allows the college students to work in their study field in the US for a year initially, after which the STEM students can apply for extension of extra 17 months for continuing their jobs.
The changes that are proposed by the DHS will enlarge the extension to two years for the graduates with degree in STEM streams, which will allow them to work in the US for minimum of three year period.
The extension which is proposed can help many STEM students who may not quickly be able to qualify for the work visa. In last three years the total number of H-1B visas has exceeded the limit of 85,000 visas every year which is set by the Congress. Around 65,000 of them are allocated for the petitioners with the degrees from the universities all around the world and 20,000 was set aside for the degree holders from US College and universities.
The proposal was placed on the Federal Register on 19th October, and the DHS is accepting the comments on this matter till 18th November 2015. The universities will be informed as soon as the proposal gets the approval.
In this year, the USCIS has got around 2,33,000 H-1B petitions, compared to 1,72,000 that were received in the year 2014. Effort was made for increasing the limit that was set by the Congress to 1,10,000 was failed in the year 2013, and the USCIS then started choosing the applicants using lottery system for reviewing.
Almost 90% of the students apply for the OPT by the time they become graduate. The window of application is open for 90 days before the graduation, and the students are given 60 days after the date for completing it.
The extension can benefit the latest graduates by granting them the permission to work as well as the employers by providing them more time to take a decision on retaining the talented students by sponsoring them for the visa and also providing them the permanent residency.