A new rule is going to be issued by the federal government which is all set to change the future of many international students for the better! In all likelihood, the period of Optional Practical Training (OPT) which was extended from 12 months to 29 months for non-immigrant students who were on F-1 Visa and pursuing a STEM degree (Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics) will now be 36 months.

As a result, of this new rule which will come into effect on May 10, 2016, foreign students who have earned degrees in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics will now become eligible to stay for three years for on-the-job training, i.e., seven months longer than the 2008 rule. This new rule is sure to bring a new light of hope for those students who wish to work in the US. Apart from offering graduates more experience in their respective fields, this extension will also aid students who aspire to work within the country. If their work visa (H-1 visa) gets denied, they still have the opportunity of applying again and at the same time, they can continue to work within the country.

This new regulation, however, has given rise to a boiling controversy. It is no doubt a cause of celebration for international students, but it has also sparked an outrage amongst American workers. Many American workers view the training program’s extension as a threat to their work rights. However, the new rule clearly states that a STEM OPT student will not replace a full or part time, temporary or permanent US worker and also the terms of the pay package for the US and a foreign worker will be based on a common measure and divisor.

The motive for introducing this new rule is to enhance the training sessions and not to unfairly disadvantage any US workers. This new rule is indeed in favour of skilled talent and has no intention of taking away any opportunities for American workers. It is an opportunity for ensuring innovation and economic growth. This rule will ensure that the foreign students who come to the U.S. and receive degrees in sought-after STEM fields, do not leave soon after finishing their programs due to visa restrictions but instead continue to contribute to the economy.

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