On October 4, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia affirmed the judgment of the district court sustaining the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) current Optional Practical Training (OPT) rule’s authorization of a limited period of post-coursework OPT, if recommended and overseen by the school and approved by DHS, for qualifying students on F-1 visas. OPT includes an extension for students in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) fields of an additional 24 months beyond the OPT period of 12 months.
Among other things, the court held that authorizing foreign students to engage in limited periods of employment for practical training as their schools recommend according to the terms set out in the rule is a valid exercise of DHS’s authority. The court also noted that “practical training not only enhances the educational worth of a degree program, but often is essential to students’ ability to correctly use what they have learned when they return to their home countries. That is especially so in STEM fields, where hands-on work is critical for understanding fast-moving technological and scientific developments.”
The court noted that more than 100,000 of the roughly 1 million international students who come to the United States complete a period of practical training.