In a surprise twist to the political drama over potential new immigration restrictions, 21 House Republicans sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf urging support for Optional Practical Training (OPT) for international students. Sources have confirmed some Trump officials hope to use the recent economic downturn due to Covid-19 to impose new restrictions on H-1B visa holders, international students and others. Deliberations on specifics continue inside the administration, which has prompted members of Congress and others to weigh in.
“We write to request your help in ensuring our nation’s ability to attract, educate, and engage with the best and brightest students and scholars from across the world,” begins the June 2, 2020, letter from House Republicans. “In furtherance of the goal, we ask your agencies adopt appropriately streamlined processes to ensure international students can enroll in the fall and preserve the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, which allows our country to globally compete for market share of international students.”
The letter urged the State Department and Department of Homeland Security to ensure international students can make it to U.S. campuses in the fall. “To that end, we urge your respective departments to communicate and share plans to address the expected increase in demand for visa services, including how U.S. consulates will be able to prioritize and process applications that include F-1 and J-1 visas,” requested the House members. “We believe several options are available to your agencies including the ability to waive certain interview requirements, prioritize the rescheduling of appointments that were canceled during Covid-19, and create a timely application and renewal process for professors, researchers, scientists, and those that are needed on U.S. campuses when instruction is expected to resume.”
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