On Jun 02 2017 by William A. Stock

Post-Graduate Work Program For Foreign Students Skyrockets

On May 22, 2017, Bloomberg Law Daily Labor Report published an article talking about the federal program that allows international students to remain in the U.S. and work on their students visas after graduating.

It’s called optional practical training (OPT) and the federal government approved over 130,000 applications in fiscal year 2014. The article included numerous quotes from Klasko’s, William Stock, commenting on how this program is necessary for keeping jobs in the U.S. and how the programs maintains jobs for Americans with more experience. Here are some highlights:

  • The OPT program allows foreign graduates of U.S. colleges and universities work for 12 months while still on their student visas.
  • In 2016, DHS lengthened the STEM extension from 17 to 24 months, allowing for a total of 36 months possible under OPT.
  • It is a program that is dominated by STEM graduates, and of those employed, most are from India or China. There is a high level of competition for H-1B visas. 
  • Many employers see H-1B and OPT programs as vital to their operations, and as Bill points out, if they don’t have access to these workers in the U.S., they might move their operations overseas.
  • Opponents to the STEM extension argue to program’s growth has gone unchecked and does not provide any protections for American workers with the same skills.
  • In the article, Bill points out the data can be misleading to argue that companies are taking advantage of the programs for cost-savings. This comes from misunderstanding how talent moves through companies in the STEM industry.
  • It actually allows for more experienced U.S. workers to get promoted and earn higher wages in the STEM field, because these roles are not eligible for the OPT and H-1B programs.
  • Not only are the programs keeping U.S. companies competitive, it’s also keeping the U.S. colleges and universities competitive as well. 
  • When the talent moves, or stays, overseas the companies and universities will too. 

Click below to read the full report.

PDF - Bloomberg Law - Daily Labor Report: May 22,2017