International Educator - May/June 2017 - 4

|

FRONTLINES
By Stuart Anderson

OPT: A Vital Policy for America
Concerns about a regulatory rollback under the Trump administration have pushed optional
practical training (OPT) to the front line of concerns for employers, universities, and students.
OPT is a vital part of the U.S. immigration system because it can represent the only immediate
way an international student can remain in the United States to gain practical experience-typically when his or her studies are completed. Although more than 147,000 international students
used OPT in the 2015-16 academic year, surprisingly little information is known by policymakers or the general public about OPT, its history, and its importance.
A Little History
Since 1947, the federal government has recognized
that the law permits international students to work
in the United States after completing their studies. An August 12, 2015, U.S. District Court opinion
explained this history: "For almost 70 years, DHS [the
Department of Homeland Security] and its predecessor, the Immigration and Naturalization Service
("INS"), have interpreted the immigration laws to
allow students to engage in employment for practical
training purposes. See 12 Fed. Reg. 5355, 5357 (Aug.
7, 1947) ("In cases where employment for practical
training is required or recommended by the school,
the district director may permit the student to engage
in such employment for a six-month period subject
to extension for not over two additional six-month
periods...)" The opinion also noted, "Congress has
never repudiated INS or DHS's interpretation permitting foreign students to engage in post-completion
practical training."
During the George W. Bush administration, concerns
escalated among policymakers and the business community that the 12-month time period for OPT had proven
insufficient for international students. H-1B status is typically the only practical way for an international student to
work legally long-term in the United States, particularly
given how long the employment-based green card process can take. The annual limit on H-1B visas is reached
every year. That means the student's 12 months of OPT
would almost certainly expire if an employer is unable
to secure an H-1B for an international student during
the first months he or she is eligible for filing. Once OPT
4  

INTERNATIONAL EDUCATOR M AY + J U N E .17

status ends, the student would need to leave the country.
In an April 2008 interim final rule, the Bush administration sought to solve this problem by allowing F-1
students with (qualifying) science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) degrees to receive an additional
17 months of OPT, for a total of 29 months of OPT
employment. On March 28, 2014, the Washington
Alliance of Technology Workers (WashTech) filed a
lawsuit alleging that the "OPT program exceeds DHS's
statutory authority" and "lacked good cause to waive
the notice and comment requirement" when issuing the
April 2008 rule.

New OPT Regulation
The district court issued an opinion that allowed the
Department of Homeland Security to resolve claims
about the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) by
issuing a new regulation. As a result, on March 11, 2016,
following a period of notice and comment, DHS issued
a final rule that became effective on May 10, 2016. The
final rule makes a number of significant changes to
STEM OPT and addresses many of the concerns raised
by critics, but not critics who think all international
students should leave the United States after completing
their studies (or not come in the first place).
The key elements of the March 11, 2016 STEM OPT
regulation include:
■■ F-1 students can receive a 24-month extension
beyond the initial 12 months of OPT if their degree is in
a qualifying STEM field.
■■ Employers must implement a formal training
program.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of International Educator - May/June 2017

From the Editor
Frontlines
In Brief
Global Spotlight: Middle East
Quick Questions
High Tech, High Engagement
Principled, Pragmatic, Impactful
What Happens to Study Abroad Students
Campus Profi le: Internationalization at the University of Tampa
Campus Spotlight: Internationalization at East Carolina University
Education Abroad
International Enrollment
International Student Affair
Partnering
A View From Out Here
Forum
In Focus
International Educator - May/June 2017 - Cover1
International Educator - May/June 2017 - Cover2
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 1
International Educator - May/June 2017 - From the Editor
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 3
International Educator - May/June 2017 - Frontlines
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 5
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 6
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 7
International Educator - May/June 2017 - In Brief
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 9
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 10
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 11
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 12
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 13
International Educator - May/June 2017 - Global Spotlight: Middle East
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 15
International Educator - May/June 2017 - Quick Questions
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 17
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 18
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 19
International Educator - May/June 2017 - High Tech, High Engagement
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 21
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 22
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 23
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 24
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 25
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 26
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 27
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 28
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 29
International Educator - May/June 2017 - Principled, Pragmatic, Impactful
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 31
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 32
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 33
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 34
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 35
International Educator - May/June 2017 - What Happens to Study Abroad Students
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 37
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 38
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 39
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 40
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 41
International Educator - May/June 2017 - Campus Profi le: Internationalization at the University of Tampa
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 43
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 44
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 45
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 46
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 47
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 48
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 49
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 50
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 51
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 52
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 53
International Educator - May/June 2017 - Campus Spotlight: Internationalization at East Carolina University
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 55
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 56
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 57
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 58
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 59
International Educator - May/June 2017 - Education Abroad
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 61
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 62
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 63
International Educator - May/June 2017 - International Enrollment
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 65
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 66
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 67
International Educator - May/June 2017 - International Student Affair
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 69
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 70
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 71
International Educator - May/June 2017 - Partnering
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 73
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 74
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 75
International Educator - May/June 2017 - A View From Out Here
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 77
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 78
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 79
International Educator - May/June 2017 - Forum
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 81
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 82
International Educator - May/June 2017 - 83
International Educator - May/June 2017 - In Focus
International Educator - May/June 2017 - Cover3
International Educator - May/June 2017 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20191112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20190910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20190708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20190506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20190304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20190102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20181112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20180708gfclone
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20180910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20180708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20180506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20180304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20180102_supp
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20180102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20171112_supp
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20171112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_2070910_supp
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20170910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20170708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20170506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20170304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20170102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20161112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20160910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20160708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20160506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20160304_fr
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20160304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20160102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20151112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20150910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20150708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20150506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20150304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20150102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20141112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20140910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20140708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20140506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20140304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20140102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20131112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20130910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20130708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20130506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20130304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20130102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20121112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20120910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20120708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20120506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20120304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20120102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20111112
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20110910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20110708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20110506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20110304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/nafsa/ie_20110102
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com