The Optional Practical Training (OPT) program for foreign graduates of American universities harms all American and legal immigrant graduates, but it harms STEM graduates the most. Currently, all foreign graduates are eligible for a 12-month OPT visa to work in their fields of study after graduation. To make matters much worse, foreign STEM graduates are eligible for an additional 24-month OPT visa.
The OPT program incentivizes the hiring of foreign graduates over American and legal immigrant graduates. Employers do not have to pay payroll taxes and the OPT employees do not have to pay FICA withholding, making these employees significantly less expensive to hire. The OPT program is responsible for the inability of most American STEM graduates to find jobs in STEM fields — fewer than 50% of STEM graduates are finding STEM jobs.
The OPT program is harming American STEM grads by giving companies a financial incentive to hire temporary foreign workers, even though the government is actively encouraging American students study for STEM degrees. I hope you cosponsor H.R. 4644, the Fairness for High-Skilled Americans Act, to end the OPT program.
Greg Raven, Apple Valley, CA