International students choose to study in the U.S. for many different reasons, and many choose to stay and work after they graduate from U.S. colleges and universities. The Pew Research Center analyzed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) data and found that more and more high-skilled foreign graudates find jobs in the United States under the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. The OPT program provides an important opportunity for foreign graduates to work in the U.S. for up to 12 months or 36 months, depending on their field. Many students choose to take advantage of the OPT programs to utilize the skills they learned.
The Pew Research Center found that the federal government approved nearly 700,000 OPT applications between 2008 and 2014. Below are the interesting findings:
The annual number of OPT approvals rose from 28,497 in 2008 to 136,617 in 2014.
Many of those working in the U.S. under the OPT program go on to apply for H-1B visas to stay longer in the U.S.
Those with STEM majors had a higher employment rate (73%) than non-STEM majors (57%).
Foreign students from India and China accounted for more than half (57%) of all those who were approved for OPT.
International entrepreneurs who are ready to file for parole status will now be delayed until March 14, 2018. DHS further believes the IE final rule may be rescinded.
The International Entrepreneur Final Rule (IE final rule) was initially published at at 82 Federal Register 5238 on January 17, 2017 with an effective start date of July 17, 2018. Unfortunately for the ones who really want to take advantage of this new opportunity, the effective date is now delayed until March 14, 2018. The Department of Homeland Security cites President Trump’s January 25, 2017 Executive Order to improve border security and immigration enforcement as the reason of the delay. DHS is required to exercise parole authority with caution.
The IE final rule provides USCIS with a case-by-case discretionary parole authority. International Entrepreneurs who can demonstrate their parole to the U.S. would provide a significant benefit to the U.S. will be allowed an initial stay of 30 months (with the option for extension for 30 months).