Caroline May reports: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is proposing an expansion to a program that allows foreign students with science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degrees to work in the U.S.
The changes were first announced in conjunction with President Obama’s executive actions on immigration reform in November and aims to increase the amount of time under the Optional Practical Training program that foreign students may work in the U.S.
The OPT program allows foreign students in certain fields to extend their stay in the U.S. by working to attain “practical training.” The rule up for consideration, would allow hundreds of thousands of foreigners in the STEM fields to work in the U.S. via the OPT program for three years, expanding the program from the current 29 months to 36 months.
Critics of the proposal point out that the students are likely to end up being less expensive than American workers and increase the already stiff competition for STEM jobs among Americans with STEM degrees looking for work or Americans with such degrees employed in non-STEM fields.
Center for Immigration Studies expert David North highlights, for example, that since DHS defines these foreign workers under this program as “students” they are largely not required to pay social security and Medicare taxes. Read the rest of this entry »