Weighing in on the proposed changes to the STEM OPT Extension
MIT is home to a large number of international students on F-1 student visas. In the 2014-2015 academic year, 42 percent of the graduate student body was composed of international students. Most of these students apply for the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program after graduation in order to work in the U.S. in their field of study. Every international student who completes a post-secondary degree in the U.S. on an F-1 visa is eligible for 12 months of OPT. Since 2008, those who complete a degree in a STEM field have also qualified for a one-time 17-month extension of OPT. This extension, however, was recently challenged in court by the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, and this August, the District Court for the District of Columbia vacated the STEM OPT Extension on the grounds of procedural deficiency. The court order is set to take effect in February 2016.