Though Trump has suspended H1B and other visas through 2020, it leaves OPT unharmed.
Since the last 60 days, there have been hundreds of articles circulating in various platforms on ‘Restrictions on Optional Practical Training’, with fist-clenching headlines like Trump might restrict_____, Trump is likely to suspend_____, Trump administration is expected to_____, US might make tighter norms_____, Is trump mulling _____, Trump admin weights suspending_____, Four senators urge Trump_____, Trump reportedly wants to_____, Will Trump opt to restrict, Restrictions expected soon_____ & more.
Finally, on June 22nd, there is a pipe down for all those speculations, and here comes the real Executive Order which has zero impact on Foreign students, OPT, and STEP OPT.
What’s in the Executive Order:
Citing the pandemic, Trump imposed limitations on Foreign workers and also expanded the previous restrictions imposed on April 22, 2020.
Why: The restrictions will prevent foreign workers from filling 525,000 jobs, according to the administration’s estimates. The measures will apply only to applicants seeking to come to the United States, not workers who already are on U.S. soil.
Altogether, the order is expected to free up about 600,000 American jobs for the more than 30,000,000 Americans who are jobless mostly due to the coronavirus crisis.
That includes about 287,000 U.S. jobs freed up for Americans that would have otherwise been taken by H-1B, H-2B, and L-1 visa workers, according to Cuccinelli.
Halting the J-1 visa program through the end of the year is set to free up about 97,000 U.S. jobs that would have otherwise gone to foreign workers.
Whom does it impact:
The executive order applies to H-1B visas, which allow U.S. employers to temporarily hire nonimmigrant workers in specialty occupations; H-4 visas for spouses of H-1B workers; L visas for temporary workers and most J and H-2B visas. J visas are for work-and-study-based exchange visitor programs and their spouses and dependents; and H-2B visas for temporary non-agricultural workers.
Who are exempted:
Also exempted are H-2B visa workers taking U.S. jobs in the food industry, J-1 visa workers taking U.S. jobs in coronavirus-related medical research or treatment, and the Optional Practical Training (OPT) visa program, which delivers foreign graduates to multinational corporations at discounted wage rates.
For Students :
International students won an unexpected reprieve as the Trump administration backed off plans to curtail OPT, The Optional Practical Training program has been called an engine of the economy, a job creator not only for foreign nationals but for domestic workers as well.
Seems Silicon Valley and Academic teams have loudly called for OPT preservation.
A group of lawmakers has introduced legislation proposing major reforms in H1B work visas. The new system would ensure the best and brightest students being educated in the US receive preference for an H-1B visa, including advanced degree holders, those being paid a high wage, and those with valuable skills.
When skilled foreign workers are needed to meet the demands of our labor market, we must also ensure that visa applicants who honed their skills at American colleges and universities are a priority over the importation of more foreign workers.
The EO limits only the foreign workers for now with zero impact on incoming foreign students. Hoping to reform the H1B at the earliest to prioritize foreign students in the USA over importing workers from abroad.
Many are breathing a sigh of relief at the preservation of OPT. Companies that hire OPT graduates will continue to get the tax breaks that come with those hires. But international students and alumni will be the most comforted. Under the program, eligible students can work for 12 months in the U.S., and those with a degree in a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics field can extend their work period by another 24 months. That latter fact is one of the drivers behind B-schools’ move en masse to designate as STEM all or part of their MBA programs — a movement many feared would be undermined by Trump’s anticipated executive order.
Trump’s Administration opinion:
Under the extraordinary circumstances of the economic contraction resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak, certain nonimmigrant visa programs authorizing such employment to pose an unusual threat to the employment of American workers.
I hope everyone needs to understand that the suspension on visas is temporary in order to protect the jobs for locals and also a soft touch to win the elections. Near the start of the election campaign, an EO limiting foreign workers and making Americans in the first place is a clever step by Trump to bag the maximum votes.