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Extensive Slowdown of International Graduates Growth on Optional Practical Training Program

Aug 01, 2018

Extensive Slowdown of International Graduates Growth on Optional Practical Training Program

According to a Pew Research Centre analysis of the government data, growth in the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program for foreign graduates in the US has extensively slowdown over recent years. The past two years has shown extensive slowdown of foreign graduates obtaining temporary work permits in the US compared to recent years, due to the toughening of the regulations that governs the Optional Training Program-- temporary employment that is directly related to an immigrant student's major area of study; although the maximum length of employment increased from 12-36 months. Previously, graduates working under the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program were allowed to work at third party sites but now with the new regulations, graduates working under Optional Practical Training (OPT) program must work at their employers place of business and this has led to the largest decline in annual growth of enrollees since 2004 and follows a long period of rapid expansion for the program in previous years.

2017 shows a record of 276,500 international graduates, revealed to have received work permits under the OPT program, up from 257,100 in 2016; but according to the latest Pew analysis of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement data revealed growth has slowed considerably, with an increase of just 8% in international students participating in OPT in 2017 compared to a 34% growth rate in 2016. Pew Research Centre reveals that OPT enrollment growth slowed substantially in 2017 among foreign students from India and China, the program's two largest countries of origin. In fact, only France, Nepal and Nigeria saw their annual growth rates increase in 2017 (among nations with 10,000 or more foreign students enrolled in OPT from 2004 to 2017).

As the slowdown in growth of foreign graduates obtaining temporary work permits in US; India is increasingly going up. Indians continue to top the overall number with more than 122,000 Indian graduates receiving OPTs in 2017, as against 104,600 in 2016 and just 61,000 in 2015. The growth rate of Indian graduates getting Optional Practical Training (OPT), declined by 55% in 2016-2017 as compared to the 2015-2016. Growth in the number of foreign graduates under OPT slowed in 2017 across all degree levels and was most pronounced among master's degree holders. About 188,600 foreign students held master's degrees in 2017, which shows a 9% increase over the previous year.

Source: Business standard

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