Legal Win for Foreign Student Work Program

The OPT program was widely seen as under threat under the Trump administration, which at various points signaled a desire to overhaul the program so as to limit competition with American workers. In the waning days of the administration, on Jan. 13, ICE announced the creation of a new unit to ensure compliance with OPT, citing a need “to take bold action to ensure that the Optional Practical Training (OPT) programs operate in a manner that does not harm U.S. workers or foreign student employees.” On Jan. 26, less than a week after President Biden took office, ICE rescinded the announcement of the new unit, saying that compliance efforts were already happening and a new unit was not needed.

Miriam Feldblum, executive director of the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration, an association of college leaders focused on immigration policy, said the ruling is important both because it provides “a clear, coherent, strong opinion that makes clear the government’s authority to develop and implement OPT and STEM OPT programs,” and because it comes “within the context of a new administration that has already signaled that they’re going to support practical training.”

“The decision not to roll out the OPT compliance unit was, I think, a really good indication that this administration is going to be supportive of opportunities for international students to apply their learning and to engage in practical training,” Feldblum said.

Read the full article from Inside HigherEd here.