The USCIS now has until May 10, 2016 to finish its review of the more than 50,000 public comments submitted in response to the new STEM OPT Extension regulations and to issue a new STEM Program. Until May 10, 2016, the old OPT STEM extension program remains in effect.
In August 2015 the US District Court for Washington, DC ruled that the USCIS STEM OPT Extension program was invalid because the USCIS had not followed the proper procedure when STEM Extension program was created. Before creating a new program, the law requires that the USCIS must first give the public time to comment on the program proposal. The USCIS did not allow the proper public comment period when creating the STEM Extension program.
In August 2015 the federal judge ruled to abolish the STEM Extension program, but the judge also found that abolishing the program immediately would cause a hardship to F-1 students currently on OPT. The judge allowed the USCIS six months until February 2016 to re-create the program using the proper procedure. The six month window was set to expire on February 12, 2016.
The USCIS re-issued the STEM Extension program last fall and received over 50,000 comments from the public. In December 2015 the USCIS requested additional time to review the public comments. The judge has now granted the USCIS an additional three months to complete its review of the public comments. The USCIS has until May 10, 2016 to complete its review of the public comments and enact the new STEM Extension program.