Visa Crunch

US Court rules against lawsuit demanding OPT to be deemed ‘unlawful’

Recently, the Trump administration adopted an aggressive stance towards Indian immigrants in the USA, by bringing into force several controversial rules such as the H1-B ban that raised quite a lot of uncertainty in the minds of students wishing to study in the USA, and their parents.

On top of that, The Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WashTech) filed a lawsuit against the United States Department of Homeland Security, to declare the practice of Optional Practical Training (OPT) as unlawful. The OPT programme is one of the most enticing factors about undertaking study in the USA, especially for STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) students, as it allowed them to gain vital on-hands training and experience in the USA.

The WashTech has challenged earlier changes in the OPT programme as well, as the Department of Homeland Security has at two instances increased the number of months that can be undertaken as OPT. However, in both instances, its case was dismissed by the district court. WashTech has alleged that students on these OPT programmes are harming American job prospects and taking away jobs from Americans.

The court’s ruling favoured students, allowing them to breathe a sigh of relief. OPT, as mentioned above, is a crucial component of education in the USA, and therefore many students felt that their future was in jeopardy because of this lawsuit.

Apart from the students, the ruling also allowed universities to breathe easy, because international students account for quite a large proportion of the student body at many universities, and without the OPT programme, universities would lose out on this revenue-generating source.

“The STEM OPT programme is an important tool that helps US universities attract top students from across the globe…the last thing this country should be doing is training the next generation of STEM workers, only to then kick them out of the US to go work for employers overseas,” said Joel Yanovich, Immigration Attorney, Murthy Law Firm in the USA.

While the judgement is likely to be appealed, the new Biden administration has promised general stability in visa and immigration rules, and prevention of polarising laws such as the H-1B ban brought about by the Trump administration.

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