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US DHS Proposes Six Years Work Authorization for International Students

June 2015, 11
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Students on F1 visas may be permitted to work
The Barack Obama’s administration is striving hard to ease the immigration norms and open US shores for skilled professionals from across the globe. It has all set to provide more benefits as well as work permits that would be more supportive for all legal residents. On the other hand, it is also putting its efforts in opening up more avenues for skilled professionals who possess special skills and qualifications and have a strong intention to work for the nation’s economy. 

Besides granting work permits for H-4 visa holders who meet the minimum eligibility criteria, the DHS (Department of Homeland Security) is moving ahead with a proposal to extend work authorization duration for overseas students undertaking their higher education in United States on F1 visa. It has all set to increase the OPT (Optional Practical Training) duration to six years. Currently, OPT for foreign students whoever completes their under graduation or graduation from the DHS certified institutions is 12 months for non-STEM programs and 17 months for STEM programs. 

The Department of Homeland Security has offered six years OPT period for students undertaking their STEM courses.   During this tenure, an international student is permitted to work in their field of study. Proponents added that would be a crucial time for students willing to stay in United States, as one can easily prove their ability and can easily get a sponsorship for H-1B during their OPT period.  

A new proposal put forth by the DHS will benefit all Indian Students who are aspiring to move to US fro undertaking their higher education in the streams of Science, Technology, Engineering as well as the Mathematics courses. However, the proposal has to be submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee. As per the new regulation, an international student with STEM degrees can work in the province for a total period of up to six years under OPT i.e. three-year years after the successful completion of undergraduate program and remaining three years after a graduate program. 

And students with the non-STEM US degree along with a STEM degree under the belt will be permitted to work in the province for a minimum duration of three years. Notably, the time-frame for OPT of non-STEM related programs would remain for 12 months. 

Few of the concerned sources have also noted that this new proposal may create lot many issues for international students, thus they have planned to set new rules for employers to treat the students with OPT status as a trainee or a part-time student for few years.

The final word on proposed reforms has not yet come to effect. But in case these proposals come into force, the OPT would develop as new H-1B with a different set of norms in place.

Have any plans to pursue your higher studies in US on USA F-1 Student Visa? If you are interested in moving to USA for higher education contact MoreVisas for reliable information and Visa Assessment to see if you are eligible to apply for USA F-1 Student Visa.

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