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Amid H1B Woes, US Employers Utilize OPT Program to Hire Foreign Workers

Over the past decade, more than a million foreign students in the US have been employed temporarily under the optional practical training (OPT) program, providing an alternative to the controversial H1B visa.

The OPT program “has become a more popular pathway” for foreign students looking to remain and work in the US, according to a new study released by Pew Research. These students are also given the chance to adjust their status and obtain an H1B visa.

The OPT program was expanded twice in the past decade — in 2008 and 2016 — as the federal government wanted to address the ‘concerns of losing students’ that were unable to obtain an H1B visa, according to Pew Research.

The previous US administration established the “cap-gap extension”, which extends the OPT period authorization for US foreign student graduates whose work authorization has expired. This extension allows foreign graduates to continue residing in the US if they are attempting to change their immigration status to obtain an H1B visa.

However, the news comes at a time that US universities are seeing the number of foreign student enrollments declining rapidly, amid the Trump administration’s anti-immigration policies.

The Institute of International Education found that the number of new college students coming to the United States from overseas fell by 7% since Donald Trump was elected president.

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The US issued visas to less than 400,000 international students in fiscal year 2017. That’s a 17% decline from 2016, and a 40% drop from 2015.

Narayan Ammachchi

News Editor for Nearshore Americas, Narayan Ammachchi is a career journalist with a decade of experience in politics and international business. He works out of his base in the Indian Silicon City of Bangalore.


  • I’m aware of “University Programs” that recruit students from India and are set up so that the students complete the last 1-2 years of their college in US. These are all but mediocre students with the only qualification that their parents have to money to afford such programs. The US part of the curriculum is set up to include one or two STEM courses so that these students become eligible for STEM OPT even if the college program as a whole has little to do with STEM, nor do these students have any particular aptitude for STEM. Once in the 3 year OPT program, these students inevitably find an employer who sponsors a H1-B and perhaps also a Green Card. Abuse of the system all around!!

  • They come because once they get F1s they never show up for classes but go and work. It is just a way to get into the country. There are plenty of “fake” educational institutions that will give you F1 in exchange of minimal tuition. USCIS investigated a number of these.

  • Why didn’t these Hindus get jobs in “Bangalore the Silicon Valley of India”? Sounds like just another immigration scam to get to the Good ol USA have a bride/ cousin or the ones that there families deliver to marry a man that has a way/scam to get into the USA drop as many Anchor Babies as possible then start sponsoring the whole clan. Said it once and will keep saying it same as the Mexicans, El Salvadoreans, Haitian, etc. just better/devious at doing the paperwork!

  • I wonder why no one raises questions on this. Your healthcare costs soar, utilities costs soar,all other costs soar but an american citizen who is eligible to get a job is not considered for the Job. Multiple H1B and Opt postings are announced and their details and salaries put up on office notice boards as a disclaimer, their salaries will be deliberately half of what a US worker will get, where should the US worker go? piece by piece all US workers get replaced by Indians. Are US engineers not that Good? If only you want talent why not pay the US worker and H1B or OPT the same salary? why delegate it to companies like TC, infosys,Wipro? Does an american worker need to starve to support an Indian worker.
    Will an american worker get a chance to compete with workers who work for a fraction of their wage, in the united states, yet using the products of the same companies who sell it to them at higher costs? So are companies telling Amerians are useless? Can some one answer this? USCIS must take a note of this, are you telling US citizens that we are of no use? when H1B and OPT salaries are deliberately half of a legal US resident’s salary, how do you expect a citizen or Green card holder to even have a chance? we are cheated plainly.

  • OPT is being abused.
    It has turned into another scam for importing Cheap Slave Labor.
    This is especially a problem when it involves “Green Card Colleges”, which were totally fake to begin with.