Large technology employers appear pleased as punch with the new DHS final rule authorizing an extension of up to 24 months of optional practical training for F-1 student visa holders with STEM degrees published in the Federal Register of March 11, 2016.  As finalized, the new rule provides insurance  against the loss of the F-1 STEM student’s services should the  employer’s H-1B sponsorship petition on behalf of  the worker fail to be selected by DHS in the annual H-1B lottery.   The availability of the STEM OPT 24-month extension buys not only continuing employment authorization but the opportunity to participate in two more annual H-1B lottery drawings.  It may also provide sufficient time, depending on the circumstances, to sponsor the worker for permanent resident status.  

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