Colleges and Universities Step Up to Defend OPT Program

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Colleges and Universities Step Up to Defend OPT Program

The Optional Practical Training (OPT) program is a very popular initiative that allows international students the opportunity to work in the United States after graduation.  A lawsuit brought by the labor union Washington Alliance of Technology Workers seeks to end OPT by arguing that the program flouts immigration laws.  They argue that because OPT was not approved by the United States Congress, it is not valid.  OPT or similar programs allowing international students to temporarily work in the U.S. have been around for decades and is currently managed by the Department of Homeland Security.

Late last year, 118 colleges and universities from 29 different states and the District of Columbia of different sizes and curriculum filed an amicus brief arguing that OPT helps American schools attract the best students, researches, and professors from around the world.  Under OPT, international students can work in the United States for up to one year after graduation while remaining on their student visa.  Graduates with a degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM degree) can extend the OPT period on their student visa for two additional years.  Upon the completion of the OPT eligibility period, graduates will need to have secured an employment-based visa or nonimmigrant visa to continue working in the U.S.

Read the full amicus brief here.

The Washington Alliance of Technical Workers union originally filed a successful lawsuit against the original STEM extension in 2014.  However, the lawsuit ultimately backfired, leading to the current two year extension for STEM students.  Prior to the lawsuit, the STEM extension was only 17 months.  The 24-month STEM extension went into effect in 2016.  The union sued again, leading to the current challenge to the entire OPT program.

The Law Offices of Scott Warmuth has been helping international students attend school in the United States for decades.  Upon graduation, we’ve helped those same students pursue the appropriate visa or green card to live and work in the U.S.  To speak with an immigration lawyer, call our offices today at 888-517-9888.  We offer 100% free immigration consultations.

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