Optional Practical Training 2016 Extension: The Facts
On May 10, 2016, a new rule published in the Federal Register will allow students who have studied a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) field in the U.S. to apply for a longer Optional Practical Training (OPT) period. An OPT period is the designated amount of time international students are legally allowed to work in the U.S. to receive hands-on experience in their fields of study.
Of the almost one million international students currently studying in the U.S., over 40% are pursuing a college education in a STEM field. This means that over 400,000 students will be eligible to work in the United States for an additional 24 months after graduation. This is seven months longer than the previous STEM OPT period.
This is significant news for many international students. These two years will give them more opportunity to refinance private students loans (allowing for a lower loan interest rate), continue building a credit score, actually pay off student loans, and, of course, gain invaluable professional experience that will be useful throughout their careers.
The basics of what this extension means are outlined in the Optional Practical Training 2016 Extension Infographic.