Obama pumps up OPT visa scheme for foreign students
The scheme, dubbed the “Optional Practical Training” (OPT) programme, had permitted students to be employed in the United States with no work visa for up to one year until the George Bush administration bumped up the time limit in 2008 to 29 months.
Now, President Obama’s administration is keeping the 29-month OPT limit, but has also expanded the amount of eligible work industries by about 90, taking the total number to 400.
Daniel Costa, who is an immigration policy expert at the Economic Policy Institute, says he is not too concerned that the amount of eligible OPT fields of study was boosted. His primary concern is that the eligible fields were chosen based on proven labour market shortages. He is also worried that there are zero salary guards for OPT workers, which lets employers undercut wages due to US workers.
According to Costa, in a few of the industries, there might be shortages, but in others, it is unlikely that there is full employment. The US government has not taken the effort to check, he added.
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