theodp writes: In August, Federal Judge Ellen Huvelle called BS on 'emergency' changes made by the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security in 2008 to Optional Practical Training (OPT) that extended the amount of time foreign STEM graduates of U.S. colleges could stay in the country and work ("to alleviate the crisis employers are facing due to the current H-1B visa shortage," as Bill Gates explained it in 2007). "The 17-month duration of the STEM extension appears to have been adopted directly from the unanimous suggestions by Microsoft and similar industry groups," said the Judge in her ruling, which threatened to invalidate STEM OPT extensions in February. But the DHS fired back Monday with a new proposed rule — Improving and Expanding Training Opportunities for F-1 Nonimmigrant Students With STEM Degrees and Cap-Gap Relief for All Eligible F-1 Students — that will extend STEM OPT to as much as 60 months (a standard 12-month OPT period, plus two 24-month extensions). Foreign students demand it, explained the DHS, as do public colleges and universities, who "particularly benefit from the payment of tuition by foreign students, especially in comparison to the tuition paid by in-state students." DHS estimates that the proposed rule will affect 634,464 foreign STEM students over the next 10 years.
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