Judge’s Order Will Save OPT For International Students

By Stuart Anderson | Forbes | December 1, 2020

In a victory for employers, universities and international students, a lawsuit aimed at preventing foreign students from working on Optional Practical Training (OPT) is over. A federal district court judge announced he plans to issue an order against the group that brought the lawsuit and grant motions for summary judgment to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and trade associations that intervened in the case on behalf of international students. The order is timely: A recent survey found in Fall 2020, “new enrollment of international students physically in the United States declined by 72%.”

Some context will help better understand the order by U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton. The plaintiffs, the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WashTech), asked the court to declare Optional Practical Training to be unlawful. The defendant was the Department of Homeland Security. Optional Practical Training allows international students to work for 12 months, and 24 additional months in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, based on regulation. The ability to work on OPT after graduation is considered crucial to many international students.

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