Optional Practical Training (OPT) Out of Control

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kitchen_trainingThe Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report last month (2/14) that takes to task the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) branch of Homeland Security for not adequately monitoring foreign students that it authorized to work in the United States during and after their studies on student visas. It notes that there are about 100,000 foreigners currently working in OPT status.

The report ostensibly was about the possibility that those students represented a national security threat. But the report, as redacted for public release, focuses on the issue of whether ICE is monitoring the foreigners compliance with the OPT regulations.

The regulations require that the foreign students be working in a job related to their academic studies, that they have not been unemployed for more than 90 or 120 days, depending on their OPT program, and that they have not overstayed their authorized OPT status (which can be as many as 29 months). The GAO found that ICE has no capability to monitor whether the foreign workers are in a job related to their studies and does not even have information that identifies the employer. Similarly, there is no procedure in place to capture whether an OPT grantee has become unemployed and has become required by regulation to leave the country. Finally, GAO found that ICE is not collecting information as to when a former international student began working in the OPT program, and, consequently, it is not able to identify whether the foreign worker has departed the country at the end of the authorized OPT status.

The GAO recommended changes to correct these deficits including a requirement that the foreign-student tracking system (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System – SEVIS) that collects data furnished by the schools that host foreign students be modified to collect information on place of employment of OPT grantees and on any period of unemployment. It also recommended that ICE provide guidance to school officials on the necessary relationship between the field of study and the field of work and require school officials to certify that the work is related to the academic field.

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Jack, who joined FAIR’s National Board of Advisors in 2017, is a retired U.S. diplomat with consular experience. He has testified before the U.S. Congress, U.S. Civil Rights Commission, and U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and has authored studies of immigration issues. His national and international print, TV, and talk radio experience is extensive (including in Spanish).

5 Comments

  1. avatar

    How does this even qualify as news? The current administration is not monitoring immigrants that come in on a student visa to make sure they are really enrolled in a school so why is it a big surprise when they don’t monitor those who have completed their studies? I know of one immigrant that came in on a student visa yet never enrolled in school and worked illegally for three years (all the while never paying taxes). Ofcourse she then was able to acquire a green card through marriage and, although racking up 5 charges of theft (before AND after the green card), remains in this country, travels in and out of the country with not so much as a blink from CBP. Obama’s people have been quite successful in mis-directing our attention to the southern border while they stack the democratic vote through the “legal entry” process.

  2. avatar

    Excellent post, Leland. As a lifelong Independent, I can say without hesitation the Republicans DON’T GET IT with regards to legal and illegal immigration, and will soon be a minority party.

    That said, Jeb “Open Borders” Bush will be the next president, amnesty will happen, chain migration will increase, birthright citizenship will continue, refugee resettlement will go on, and America’s middle class will so fade away.

    All this with automation and robotics taking over 45% of the jobs over the next 20 years. Nice.

    So what will we be left with? An America with far fewer jobs, lower paying jobs, and, hey presto! About 500 million people in it! Yay!

  3. avatar

    It’s beyond obvious that the Obama administration has its own agenda regarding immigration, and it’s not the same as what i believe it is for the majority of Americans. They obviously aren’t interested in anything like actually enforcing the laws but rather choose which laws they like and don’t–immigration is definitely in latter category.

    Really believe that Obama’s view of illegal immigration is that it’s really a GOOD thing, because 1. It produces new voters nearly all of whom will vote Democrat and 2. It empowers a lot of Muslims to come here, who Obama is permitting into the country by the hundreds of thousands on “humanitarian” grounds.
    Check it out.

    P.S.: To Jack the article author: It’s “foreigners’ compliance…”–you omitted apostrophe. Doesn’t anyone proof their material any more?

  4. avatar

    Buffoons or Criminals Run ICE?

    Here’s my proof for that question from a clip from the article above:

    “….The GAO found that ICE has no capability to monitor whether the foreign workers are in a job related to their studies and does not even have information that identifies the employer. Similarly, there is no procedure in place to capture whether an OPT grantee has become unemployed and has become required by regulation to leave the country. Finally, GAO found that ICE is not collecting information as to when a former international student began working in the OPT program, and, consequently, it is not able to identify whether the foreign worker has departed the country at the end of the authorized OPT status….”

  5. avatar

    I was watching The Herd on ESPN the other day and he was saying that the GOP better get with it because Romney only got 27% of the Hispanic vote. Gosh, sounds convincing, huh? Except it’s been proven a thousand times over that Hispanics do not vote Republican anyway. Reagan signed the 1986 amnesty, which was sponsored in the Senate by a Republican, Alan Simpson. Bush Sr, who fully supported it, got 31% in 1988. McCain, who probably clutches his pro amnesty teddy bear when he goes to bed at night, got about 30% on 2008.

    One more time. The Republicans are never going to get the Hispanic vote because:
    A] Hispanics in poll after poll favor the big government programs of the Democrats, and,
    B] The Democrats will always raise the ante in their pandering to Hispanics. Always. If the Republicans should declare they favor open borders, the Democrats would say we will meet you at the border and hand you a check for ten thousand dollars.

    One more time. Stop the rightward religious tilt in the GOP. Fine, believe what you want, but it’s not playing with women and younger people. There are far far more votes there than another million or so votes they might be able to get from Hispanics. A lot of people are socially liberal and economically conservative. Go after their votes.