The case involves a challenge to the government’s longstanding program called Optional Practical Training (OPT). OPT allows international students and recent graduates to gain work experience in the United States in their fields of study. Hundreds of thousands of international students and graduates participate in this program each year, and it is critical for US institutions of higher education to maintain their position in an increasingly competitive global education market. Written on behalf of 118 colleges and universities, the firm’s brief details the benefits for students, schools, and the country in maintaining OPT.
“If WashTech has its way, OPT will cease to exist,” the brief says. “And if it ends, so too will the myriad benefits of OPT to international students, American colleges and universities, and the national economy. If OPT is eliminated, international students will have fewer opportunities to continue their education beyond the walls of the classroom – something that research shows is often required to master complex fields such as those in the STEM area.”
The brief explains that OPT participants are critical to maintaining amici’s research excellence: “International graduate students are integral to many departmental research initiatives that attract outstanding faculty in STEM fields, and by teaching undergraduates, they allow amici to maintain large and diverse course offerings.” It also details at length the important educational benefits of experiential learning, particularly in the twenty-first century.
The case is Washington Alliance of Technology Workers v. Department of Homeland Security.