More international students decide to stay and work in the US under OPT, but this could change soon

More international students decide to stay and work in the US under OPT, but this could change soon
The number of international graduates from U.S. colleges, who stay in the country to work, has steadily increased in the past few years, American fact tank Pew Research revealed.
According to its latest study, the federal government approved at least 700,000 Optional Practical Training program (OPT) applications from the fiscal year 2008 through to 2014.
The OPT is a program designed by the federal government of the United States to allow international students who have completed a degree in any US university to work in the country on a temporary basis. All international students with F-1 visas are eligible to apply for an OPT. An approval makes them qualified to work anywhere in the US for one year, providing that they will only work for jobs that are related to their field of study. International students majoring in a STEM field can work in the country for three years.
Leading the top sources of foreign graduates under the OPT is India, which has supplied a total of 72, 151 students since 2012 until 2015. China ranks second at 68,647, followed by South Korea at 14, 242. Taiwan, Nepal, Canada, Vietnam, Japan, Turkey, and Mexico complete the top 10, supplying at least more than 3,000 students (but not over 8,000) each during the aforementioned period.
“Foreign students from India (72,151) and China (68,847) accounted for more than half (57 percent) of all those who were approved for OPT and found jobs from 2012 to 2015, and graduates in STEM fields accounted for at least 70 percent of OPT approvals from India, Iran, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka over the same period,” the study explained.
India remains the top source of students with STEM degrees, as 84 percent of Indian graduates under the OPT program pursued roles in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. The remaining top 10 are shared by countries across the Middle East, Asian and African regions. Iran comes in second at 79 percent, followed by Bangladesh (74 percent), Sri Lanka and Rwanda (70 percent), Libya (66 percent), Syria (65 percent), Ethiopia (65), Jordan (62 percent), and Egypt (60 percent).
Possibly a short-lived growth
It must be noted, however, that these numbers were collated during the Obama administration.  As the new government’s crackdown on immigration continues, fears of seeing a less accessible OPT program ensue. Today, it’s harder to apply for a student visa, especially if you’re from an Islamic nation, and this could lower the number of F-1 visa holders in the near future.
The anxiety among students and universities is also affecting the viability of the US as a favorite destination for study. The migration embargo will discourage international students to even look at US universities however popular they are and push them to pursue their dreams with educational institutions in friendlier countries such as Canada, Germany, France, Ireland, or New Zealand.

Thus, the repercussions will be felt perhaps only after Trump’s reign. The shortage of promising students who are willing to work for US firms could drastically affect the future of its economy. 

Talk to one of our US immigration lawyers for more updates on US immigration policies. You can also take our free online assessment to see if you are eligible to apply for a Student Visa to the US.

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