Trump to bring restrictions on the foreign student work program

indica News Bureau-


For long it has been anticipated that there will be restrictions on the student visa that allows international students to work in the U.S. after graduation.

On Saturday, the Wall Street Journal confirmed, that optional practical training (OPT), the work program for international graduates, are expected to be among new visa and immigration restrictions imposed by the Trump administration.

Currently, the visa allows students to work in the US for three years after graduation.

This restriction is specifically designed to aid American graduates looking for entry-level work during the coronavirus-fueled downturn, the newspaper said, citing the officials. The limits are likely to come in a package of new immigration restrictions Trump has said he would issue in an executive order, probably in the next few weeks.

In fact, for many, this news isn’t a surprise at all. After all, the acting homeland security secretary said a couple of weeks ago that the administration has argued that curtailing OPT, along with other skilled-worker programs like H-1B, is needed to preserve jobs for Americans during the coronavirus-related economic downturn.

While this seems like a clever strategy to secure jobs for the native population, it can have significant implications on the long-term economic growth of the country. Because international students are an asset not only to the American labor market but also educational institutions, as they bring in huge revenue.

“The opportunity to get practical work experience that is aligned with their course of study is a huge draw,” said Brad Farnsworth, vice president for global engagement for the American Council on Education. “The market for international students is a global market, and students who are coming from major source countries, China and India, have really attractive choices. For example, the U.K. just restored its equivalent to OPT.”

While many statesmen are voting for the passing of this restriction, many big businesses have been highly supportive of the OPT program.

More than 300 employers and business groups signed on to a May 21 letter to Trump urging him not to restrict the OPT program or other visa programs for high-skilled workers. The letter cites research published by the Business Roundtable in December 2018 that found that reducing OPT participation by 60 percent would negatively affect the U.S. economy and result in the loss of 443,000 jobs over a decade, including 255,000 jobs held by native-born workers.

Doug Rand, who worked on immigration policy in the Obama White House, said that “The nightmare scenario that a lot of international students are worried about is some kind of bolt-from-the-blue suspension of the program where everybody who’s applied is out of luck and everybody who’s on the program has to leave the country.”

But on a relatively positive note, he added, that while the president has expansive powers to deny entry of foreign nationals to the US, presidential powers are much more limited when it comes to the immigration statuses of individuals already in the US.

According to Farnsworth, even if nothing is done to temporarily restrict OPT, an active discussion of suspending OPT has an impact on the students.