DHS Announces OPT Revocations
The Department of Homeland Security announced on October 22, 2020 that over 1,100 Optional Practical Training program work permits may be revoked in the coming months, consistent with the agency's priorities to crackdown on allegedly fraudulent permits and working arrangements. The OPT program permits F-1 non-immigrant students to work beyond the terms of their program of study for up to 12 months with a qualified U.S. based employer. Certain F-1 non-immigrants in the STEM fields are able to further extend this program for an additional two years, allowing some non-immigrant students to remain in the United States on the same visa for a decade, considering the length of certain PhD programs.
This move follows a series of actions from the Executive Branch to limit the amount and scope of such non-immigrant student visas. Presidential Proclamation 10043 revoked visas granted to Chinese non-immigrant students affiliated with the CCP, the proposed rulemaking discussed in our September 28 post seeks to remove the Duration of Status designation provided to F-1 students upon their entry to the United States, and ICE recently announced a slew of arrests throughout the country of non-immigrants suspected of fraudulently using the OPT program to remain in the United States. Taken together, these actions suggest an intense level of scrutiny towards the F-1 non-immigrant visa program, at least within the current administration. F-1 non-immigrant students are encouraged to remain in close communication with the international office of their educational institution. Taking action now to ensure that any applicable reporting or filing requirements are met can help prevent a visa revocation or removal action from occurring. As such actions can impact any future petition or application filed with the USCIS, taking proactive steps now can prevent disastrous, long-term effects moving forward.
F-1 non-immigrant students in the United States are encouraged to closely review, and comply with, the DHS guidance for maintain their status in the United States, found here.