Update August 16th: Late yesterday, I received further confirmation that the provisions regarding FMLA were withdrawn entirely from the proposed Democrat-led budget bill. Moreover, the General Assembly early this morning voted on a Republican version of the budget implementer, which now goes on to Governor Malloy (who has indicated he will veto the bill). That
Today, I’m delighted to bring you what I hope will be the first of several updates for employers from the immigration law perspective. One of my newest colleagues, Ashley Mendoza, along with my law partner Brenda Eckert, have been tracking some of the newest rules for employers coming out of the Department of Homeland Security. These rules will have a particular impact to employers who recruit from the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) areas. For employers that rely on foreign workers to help supplement their ranks, this is crucial to understand.
But a cautionary note: It’s a bit technical. There’s really no way around that. Immigration laws are just filled with technical requirements. Indeed, that’s one reason why a qualified immigration lawyer is often needed to help employers navigate these rules. Brenda and Ashley are leading the way here at my firm and I thank them for this detailed update.
Yesterday (May 10, 2016), the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) implemented major modifications to Optional Practical Training (“OPT”) extensions for students on F-1 visas enrolled in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (“STEM”) degree programs.
The new regulations, published at 8 CFR Parts 214.2(f) and 274a, authorize a 24-month STEM OPT extension period, replacing the previous 17-month STEM OPT extension period.
While at first glance, the new STEM OPT extension regulations may seem a cause for celebration, there are a number of added requirements and oversight provisions and, for some U.S. employers, the benefits may not outweigh the burdens.
What is OPT?
OPT is a form of temporary employment available to students holding F-1 visas that directly relates to a student’s program of study. The employment is often paid, and may take place during and/or after completion of the degree program.
The overarching idea is that OPT will afford eligible international students and new graduates the opportunity to gain hands-on practical experience to supplement what they learned during their degree program. Students may be authorized for a total of 12 months of full-time OPT at each educational level (e.g., undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate).
The application process is relatively straight forward. The student must first request approval from his or her designated school official (“DSO”), who will then make a recommendation to the electronic Student and Exchange Visitor and Information System (“SEVIS”) by endorsing a Form I-20.
Thereafter, the student must file the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, supporting documentation, and a filing fee of $380.00 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”).
The extension & the changes to it
Since 2008, eligible students who graduate with a qualified STEM degree and are presently engaged in a period of approved post-completion OPT may have the option to extend their OPT for a period of 17 months.
This is the existing STEM OPT extension, and this is what the new regulations modify. These changes will affect all parties involved in the STEM OPT extension process. This includes the students and the U.S. employers with whom the students will train during the course of the approved period of STEM OPT.
Not to be forgotten, however, are the DSO’s who perform pivotal work with students behind-the-scenes to recommend them for OPT and extensions and maintain student records in SEVIS.
So, what’s new?
The better question, really, is what isn’t new.
The new regulations provide a comprehensive overhaul to the STEM OPT program.
Back in June, I talked about a new district court case on restrictive covenants. My law partner, Joshua Hawks-Ladds, follows up today with results of the appeal. For employers who have a non-compete agreement, this decision emphasizes the need to seek an injunction quickly to protect the employer’s interests.
Suppose a former employee has breached your company’s covenant not to compete after she left employment. Are you, the employer, entitled to get the non-compete period extended as a remedy for the breach?
Great question. And one that differs depending on the state.
Late Thursday night, President Obama signed a measure that extends the COBRA premium subsidy for another two months — to May 31, 2010.
The subsidy had expired on March 31, 2010 when Congress failed to act on this measure before its recess. However, yesterday, Congress approved a bill that covers all those who have…
Late Tuesday night, the Senate approved and the President signed a bill that , among other things, extends the COBRA subsidy (that had expired on February 28, 2010) to March 31, 2010 and applies that extension retroactively. That means that any terminations on Monday and Tuesday this week that would have been subject to the…
Several weeks after the passage of an extension of the COBRA subsidy provisions, the United States Department of Labor has finally released its model notices for employers to use.
All of them are available here.
The United States Department of Labor this morning updated its website to include brand new information about the COBRA subsidy extension that was passed at the end of 2009.
Among the new documents:
- Updated Fact Sheet (useful for employers)
- FAQs for employees and employers
- A new job loss poster
- A new flyer for employees
Twas the night before Christmas
With a whole bunch of laws,
A new COBRA was stirring,
with a health bill (and flaws?)
Congress sure has been busy the last few days. This Christmas Eve morning, the Senate passed a landmark health care bill. No doubt, it will continue to be tweaked and modified…
So, President Obama signed a bill that extends the COBRA subsidy. No big deal, right?
Well, not exactly.
First, let’s go over what’s in the final provision:
- The eligibility period to receive the COBRA subsidy has been extended two months — to February 28, 2010. That means that individuals who have been laid off