OPT — Trump’s Next Target?
After Trump implemented his 60-day ban on immigration of specific categories, Optional Practical Training for international students may become the next administration target.
Optional Practical Training is a program where international students are given 12 months to work in the United States (24 months for STEM-related jobs). Students usually utilize this program to stay in the country after graduation. Chad Wolf, Acting Homeland Security Secretary, mentioned this possibility during a radio interview on April 27, 2020. He reminded the audience about how some programs have been “potentially abused in the past” and expressed the Department’s concern about Chinese students who plan to stay and work in the U.S. after they graduate. Senator for Arkansas, Tom Cotton, also said that to prevent them from returning to China with technical skills and knowledge, Chinese students should not have access to studies in STEM subjects when they are in America.
A report from Forbes speculates that efforts to create new immigration policy restrictions, including Trump’s immigration ban, are acts of seizing the COVID-19 outbreak to achieve long-standing immigration policy goals. A White House-designed bill rejected by the U.S. Senate in February 2018 contained almost identical provisions on legal immigration as those contained in the presidential proclamation regarding Trump’s 60-day ban on immigration.
Similarly for OPT, Stephen Miller, who is now the Trump administration’s senior advisor, drafted a bill in 2015 to eliminate OPT and prohibit almost all international students from working in the U.S. after graduating until they have worked outside the country for at least ten years.
A Politico report also interpreted this potential restriction as the administration’s method to redirect the public’s focus from its poor performance during the COVID outbreak to targeting Chinese international students. The “retaliation” against China after the global pandemic outbreak may be used as a strategy in the 2020 election. This strategy may take form in restrictions aiming towards Chinese students studying in the United States. As early as 2018, the Trump administration already considered banning all Chinese students from the United States.
No actual policies have been established or announced regarding Optional Practical Training. We will closely monitor news regarding this issue and update you when any changes or announcements are made.
Optional Practical Training（可选择实习训练项目）让留学生拥有在美国工作十二个月的机会（STEM领域的工作可以获得额外的24个月）。通常留学生会在毕业后申请这个项目，让他们可以在美国继续合法工作并居住。
美国国土安全部长Chad Wolf在4月27日的电台采访中提到了这一政策变动的可能。他提到了此项目“以往的潜在滥用”，并表达了部门对中国学生留在美国工作的担忧。阿肯色州的参议员Tom Cotton也表示，为了避免中国学生将科技方面的技能及学识带回中国，中国留学生应该被禁止学习STEM相关专业。