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Critical Developments in Trump Administration’s Fight to End OPT

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a program that originated during the Bush administration, and which all administrations have supported, at least up until now. OPT permits international students to work in the U.S. for a specific time following graduation from a college or university. Under this program, international students can work in the U.S. for 12 months after graduation. Students may be able to work for an additional 24 months in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. As the number of international students attending school in the U.S. has continued to decline, often in favor of countries that offer more generous post-graduate work opportunities, OPT is an essential tool for attracting and retaining this demographic.

Critical Developments in Trump Administration’s Fight to End OPT

The Trump Administration reportedly intends to propose a rule that will significantly modify the OPT program. The federal government’s stance on this issue allegedly stems from a desire to protect American jobs for American workers, rather than for international students. However, economists have found no correlation between the OPT program and a reduction in job opportunities for American workers.

Additionally, the OPT program is currently the subject of a lawsuit filed by the Washington Alliance of -Technology Workers, which is arguing that the 70-year-old program is unlawful. Three different trade associations have intervened in the suit to protect OPT and the international students who regularly take advantage of the opportunities that it presents. Ironically, DHS also has defended the program, despite the Trump Administration signaling its inclination to end the program. A decision is expected in this court case in the coming months, as both sides have filed cross-motions for summary judgment.

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