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Working STEM students may be forced to leave U.S. next year, says court

Patrick Thibodeau | Aug. 17, 2015
A federal judge made a ruling this week that could force tens of thousands of foreign workers, many of whom are employed at tech companies on student visas, to return to their home countries early next year.

The court's timeline for fixing the OPT program is going to be "very challenging," Macdonald said, because of various government 30 and 60-day notice periods. "I think everyone is getting ready for DHS to push this rule within the six-month period," he said.

There could be political problems as well. By restarting the regulatory approval process, Macdonald said that new challenges will emerge in Congress, as well as in the courts.

Political fallout seems possible. One GOP aide for a Senate Judiciary Committee office, who wasn't authorized to speak, and could only comment anonymously, said in response to the court ruling: "The Administration's abuse of the OPT program is extraordinary. American workers are paying the price daily."

It was the administration of President George W. Bush that pushed through the OPT extension. President Barack Obama's administration supported it, and has extended the definition to STEM to include a broader range of college degrees.


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