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OPT Extension for STEM Students Could be in Jeopardy

Back in 2008, Optional Practical Training (OPT) was extended from 12 to 29 months for STEM students but a ruling by a court last week puts this extension in jeopardy. OTP is available to students on F-1 visas who have graduated or have been working towards a degree for nine months. OPT allows students to gain a practical working experience that is related to their field of study. The OPT extension is only for students in STEM (science, technology, engineering or math).


Last week a court ruled that this extension was invalid because the governmentfailed to seek public comment before extending the OPT period. The court decidednot to outright declare the OPT extension invalid but instead gave the governmentsix months to cure the problem and submit the extension for public comment.

Fortunately this means the problem could be fixed in six months, but if the courtisn’t satisfied upon further review it could mean that students working on OPT maybe forced to terminate their employment and leave the US.

Although the OPT extension program requires public comment as of now, theextension period is still valid up until February 12, 2016, the court given expirationdate. Also, F-1 students may still apply for an OPT extension and be granted theextension until the six months has run.

The OPT extension is important to many students as US schools enrolls hundreds of thousands of international students each year. According to the Institute of International Education over 800,000 international students were enrolled during the 2013-2014 school year. This represents an 8% growth from the previous year and puts international student enrollment at an all time high. The highest percentage of international students is from China, and the second highest percentage is from India.

Ending the OPT extension program would be a disservice to the many students who benefit from the program and the US economy that benefits from the skills brought into the workplace. OPT allows foreign students to exercise and hone the skills learned in school in a practical workplace environment. The US economy benefits by bringing in specialized skills to the workplace and bettering US companies.

The most popular majors among international students are engineering, math,computer science and business. Foreign students are studying areas that US companies need to advance. Engineering and computer skills bring innovation,product creation and efficiency into the workplace. The OPT extension program allows these skilled graduates to better US companies and create successful products and which can lead to job creation and high sales. As the program stands it ensures graduates can bring these important skills into the workplace, hopefully foreign students and the US can continue to benefit from this program.

Any questions about OPT extension program or F-1 student visas can be answeredby an immigration attorney. Contact the Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal to discuss OPT extension, F-1 visas or any other immigration issue. Attorney Khandelwal is animmigration attorney located in the Silicon Valley.

Cited Sources:

Federal Court Rules on OPT Extension, August 14, 2015, The National Law Review

Institute of International Education, 2015


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How to a Renew Green Card

A green card is the documentation granted to lawful permanent residents (LPR) by the USCIS which demonstrates that the holder is authorized to legally work and live in the United States. Green cards generally expire after 10 years. If the green card expires, it must be renewed for the holder to continue to receive the benefits of lawful permanent residence.

avvo-1Things to watch out for
Expiration dates: The expiration date on the green card will determine the time tofile for renewal.

Helpful Tip
The expiration date is printed on the front of the green card and is easily found.

Timelines to keep in mind
– The type of green card dictates the timeline for renewal. Conditionalpermanent residents have different timelines for renewal than LPRs.
– Instead of 10 years, conditional permanent residents have green cards thatare only valid for 2 years. Conditional permanent residents should begin therenewal process 90 days before the green card expires.

– LPRs have green cards that are valid for 10 years. LPRs should begin therenewal process 6 months before the green card expires.

Process for Renewal
When it’s time to renew the green card, the applicant must first file an applicationfor renewal. This can be done online or by mail. The form for this process is Form I-90.

Replacing a green card
Sometimes green cards can be misplaced or stolen. In this case an application should be filed to replace the green card. The form for replacing a green card is the same form for renewing a green card, Form I-90. Replacing a green card should also be filed if it was issued to the LPR before the age of 14. Once the LPR reaches 14 years old, the LPR should file form I-90 for a new green card. However, if the LPR turns 16 years old before the green card expires, then the applicant does not need to file for a new green card upon reaching the age of 14.

Denials of green cards can occur. In this case a motion to reconsider the case or toreopen the case can be filed, which asks the USCIS to reconsider the denial. Thisprocess can be complicated but is an effective way to deal with a renewaldenial.

A green card is the LPR’s proof that the LPR is legally authorized to work and live inthe US. It’s important that the green card be renewed timely and kept current. Production of a currentvalid green card is the LPR’s proof of ability to live and work in the US on apermanent basis and receive other benefits given to permanent US residents. Todiscuss renewing a green card, filing a motion to reopen a green card case or anyother issue surrounding green cards, contact the Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal.Attorney Khandelwal has 10 years experience as an immigration attorney and canassist with any green card issues.

Cited Sources:

Renew A Green Card, March 30, 2015, USCIS


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