Bill introduced in House to eliminate Optional Practice Training (OPT)


Last month a group of US lawmakers has introduced a bill aiming to remove the Optional Practice Training (OPT) program, if passed would have a direct impact on thousands of international students on F-1 visas.

According to the press release, on July 23, Arizona’s 4th district Representative Paul A. Gosar, along with Alaska’s 5th district representative Mo Brooks, Arizona’s 5th district representative Andy Biggs, and Florida’s 1st district representative Matt Gaetz introduced the Fairness for High-Skilled Americans Act calling OPT a flawed program and should be eliminated.

The Open Doors study, which monitors international student numbers, shows over 81,173 Indian students were enrolled in the OPT program in November 2020. 

The OPT program, first started in 1994, was implemented by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) organization and, though not approved by Congress, was further developed during the Obama Administration. Bypassing the H-1B quota, the program permitted over 100,000 foreign or immigrant students to find employment in the nation between the first three years after they graduate. Since they are exempt from payroll taxes, these workers’ wages will be around 10-15 percent less than an average American worker.

Initially introduced in the 116th Congress, the Fairness for High-Skilled Americans Act has received twice signed amicus briefs, siding with American employees in a lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security to remove OPT. 

“At a time when American college graduates are struggling to find a job and many are saddled with student loans, our government should not be incentivizing foreign employees over Americans,” said Rep. Paul Gosar in the press release. “This badly flawed government program should be eliminated.” 

Director of Government Relations for NumbersUSA, Rosemary Jenks stated in the press release that the OPT has “undercut Americans workers, particularly higher-skilled workers and recent college graduates, by giving employers an actual tax incentive to hire compliant, inexpensive foreign labor under the guise of ‘student training.’ ”

Director for the Center for Homeland Security and Immigration from the America First Policy Institute John A. Zadrozny expresses his support during the press release, stating that the American First Poly Institute sides with Gosar, believing in the prioritization of American citizens’ careers. He believes that they “owe it to current and future generations of Americans to stop treating them like second-class citizens and fight for a domestic economy that always puts them first.”

Founder of U.S. Techworkers Kevin Lynn, according to the press release, brings up the issue of young Americans who recently graduated from universities and colleges, actively looking for employment, stating that the OPT program contributes to the challenges young individuals face searching for employment.