Without OPT- What Will The US Lose?
“Without the OPT, higher education is not attractive in the US. Because it is expensive and the education does not amount to much without the work experience,” said Varun, who came to the US in 2011 for his higher studies.
Varun’s story echoes the dreams of thousands of Indian students who come to the US to study and hopefully get to work in the country, even at the risk of having to take education loans worth lakhs.
So for these students, who spend years repaying the loan — or at times decades if they do not get a job — higher education in the US might not be attractive without the prospect of a job.
Amid speculation over OPT suspension for foreign students, higher education in the US might lose its sheen.
The DHS (Department of Homeland Security) and the Labour Department are reviewing the temporary visa workers' program, including curbs on H-1B and OPT as per the executive order of US President Trump to save American jobs. So far, over 30 million Americans have lost jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
What is OPT?
The USCIS (US Citizenship and Immigration Services) defines OPT is temporary employment that can be availed by foreign students (F-1 visa) before or after the completion of studies
The period of OPT is 1-year. However, if you are a Science, Technology Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) student, you can get an extension of an additional 24 months.
According to a report by Open Doors, international students contributed $44.7 billion to the US economy in 2018. That was an increase of 5.5 % from the previous year.
A Businessroundtable.org report suggests: “If the administration introduces policy changes, that would lead to a 35 % reduction in the issuance of foreign-born student visas and a 60% decline in OPT participation by 2020, the effect on the US economy would be negative.”
The reports further add that International students are young and perfectly contribute to economic growth.