On November 18, 2015, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and the American Immigration Council (AIC) submitted comments to the Department of Homeland Security regarding the proposed 24-Month Stem Extension Rule, Improving and Expanding Training Opportunities for F-1 Nonimmigrant Students with STEM Degrees and Cap-Gap Relief for All Eligible F-1 Students. AILA is a voluntary bar association of more than 14,000 attorneys and law professors practicing, researching and teaching in the field of immigration and nationality law. The American Immigration Council is a non-profit organization established to increase public understanding of immigration law and policy, advocate for the fair and just administration of our immigration laws, protect the legal rights of noncitizens, and educate the public about the enduring contributions of America’s immigrants. The highlights to their comments are as follows:
- Automatic Cap-Gap Extension Language – amend the regulations to provide for a cap-gap extension that is valid through October 1, or the date of the decision on the H-1B petition, whichever is later.
- Definition of STEM fields – amend the definition to provide greater flexibility in the selection of qualifying CIP codes.
- Definition of Employment – amend the definition to address self-employment and non-salary compensation during the STEM OPT extension period, such as to join a fledgling incubator project, to incorporate a business, or to engage in other entrepreneurial ecosystems.
- Mentoring and Training Program Plan – amend the regulatory language with Form I-910 to reconcile whether the employer or the employee bears the primary responsibility for preparing the Mentoring and Training Program.
- Role of the Designated School Official (DSO) – amend the regulatory language to clarify whether the DSO’s role is limited to a simple technical review of the form to ensure completeness or is responsible for guaranteeing the substance of the plan.
We should see a final rule published by DHS within the next 2 weeks. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, has changed from the proposed rule. Immigration in Plain English will be following this closely.