Lawmakers support the OPT program during pandemic

The pandemic generated strict changes in immigration policies

The US has always been a country known for receiving thousands of foreign students annually.

They come to the country yearning to obtain a professional degree and many of them want to legally reside in the US after completing their studies.

In light of the health crisis caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, thousands of foreign students decided to return to their countries to avoid being stranded in the US.

However, many of these students currently reside in the country and have the option to apply for a temporary work permit called Optional Practical Training (OPT).

Due to the current economic crisis, the US government wants to reduce the number of OPT work permits for foreign students, at least until the risk to public health decreases.

The Trump administration ensures that these permits reduce job opportunities for legal citizens and that local businesses must offer their resources to the American population rather than foreigners.

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OPT- Brief explanation

The OPT program gives foreign students the opportunity to legally work in the US for a minimum period of one year.

To be eligible for this program, a local company must offer employment to newly graduates or they must apply for jobs related to their study areas.

In order to apply to the OPT program, international students must reside in the US at the time the application is submitted.

21 lawmakers unite against reducing business immigration

The Trump administration received a letter from 21 members of Congress on June 2, 2020.

The official statement declares that members of Congress request urgent help from the government to protect the OPT program for international students during the health crisis.

The arguments presented by the lawmakers are the following:

  • International students only use 5.5% of the university enrollments available annually, therefore, they are not taking away opportunities from legal citizens.
  • Between 2018 and 2019, foreign students contributed $ 41 billion to the country’s economy and the government has the duty to return that income by offering them more job opportunities.
  • In light of the current juncture, it is in the best interest of the US to keep the brightest foreign students to work in local companies.
  • It is well known that the processes of the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) are delayed and the local government must offer help to foreign students who have a residence permit soon to expire.
  • The OPT program is one of the most striking aspects for foreign students. If the government reduces or removes this program, the income of the student sector will be affected considerably.
  • Local companies give great recognition to the quality of work of foreign students.
  • Foreign students who want to work legally with OPT could be a key player in overcoming the current economic and health crisis.

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