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Expansion of the OPT Program Expected

As part of the President’s administrative action on immigration, the administration announced a program to reform the Optional Practical Training (“OPT”) program. OPT is a program for F-1 student visa holders to seek an additional 12 months in status to seek temporary employment in their field of study.

Secretary Johnson has asked USCIS and ICE to develop a program to extend benefits and expand programs eligible for OPT, as well as extend the time available in the OPT program. In particular, the Secretary has placed STEM students as a priority to enhance study benefits in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (“STEM”) programs. However, he has also cautioned USCIS and ICE to be aware of how this will impact local labor markets and create protections for the interests of American workers in these fields.

Expanding the OPT program will help educated foreign nationals remain a part of the American economy following their education here in the United States. This has proven to be difficult in the past due to a severe shortage of visas available for educated workers. The result has been that America was losing these educated workers to other countries with more open immigration policies targeting educated workers in the STEM fields.

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Kolko & Casey, P.C. is a full service immigration and naturalization law firm providing professional legal services to individuals and businesses throughout Colorado, the Rocky Mountain West, the United States, and the World. Our professional staff speaks English, Spanish, Korean, and Portuguese and we can arrange for translators in any other language.