Immigration Reform for Foreign Students

On November 21, 2014, the President issued two Presidential Memoranda setting forth additional directives for modernizing and streamlining the visa system and integrating immigrants and refugees into the fabric of our society. 

Reforming “Optional Practical Training” for Foreign Students and Graduates from U.S. Universities
DHS Secretary Johnson has directed USCIS and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “to expand the degree programs eligible for OPT and extend the time period of STEM extension (from current 17 months to 29 months) and use of OPT for STEM students and graduates consistent with law.” 

Some of the changes under consideration are:
- Allowing STEM OPT extension post-master’s degree where only the first degree is in a STEM field. This is to be done by regulation. No timeframe has been provided.
- USCIS and ICE have also been directed to evaluate and improve the OPT program and ensure that it sufficiently safeguards the interests of U.S. workers in related field. Ties between the student and the degree-granting institution must also be strengthened.