USCIS Publishes Rule Eliminating the H-1B Cap-Gap and Extending OPT

The following is from a DHS press release of April 4, 2008: 

“The U.S. Department of Homeland Security released today an interim final rule extending the period of Optional Practical Training (OPT) from 12 to 29 months for qualified F-1 non-immigrant students. The extension will be available to F-1 students with a degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics who are employed by businesses enrolled in the E-Verify program. … Another aspect of the rule responds to the situation in which an F-1 student’s status and work authorization expires before he or she can begin employment under the H-1B visa program. The interim final rule addresses this problem by automatically extending the period of stay and work authorization for all F-1 students with pending H-1B petitions.” 

There are still questions about petitions filed requesting consular processing, as opposed to change of status, for beneficiaries in OPT status whose 60-day grace period will end before October 1, 2008.  Hopefully, USCIS will allow these beneficiaries to change the requested form of processing to “change of status.”