ICE to monitor OPT compliance

The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has announced that it is creating a unit specifically to monitor employer and foreign student compliance with the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. The new unit will also be able to recommend the investigation of employers and students thought to be in violation of the OPT work limits.

The OPT program provides an opportunity for eligible international students and recent graduates to gain on-the-job learning that supplements knowledge gained in their academic studies.

For much of the last four years, many U.S. federal agencies have charged that international students and workers have taken spots that should be given to Americans. In creating the new unit, the OPT Employment Compliance Unit, SEVP says it is currently unable to monitor the impact that OPT has on U.S. workers and foreign students. The announcement of the creation of the unit says that the first report will be released to the public by July 31, 2021.

It is unclear how this new unit will be used, especially at a time when ICE itself may be undergoing significant changes as a result of a new administration. If used properly, its ability to evaluate the program could be useful. There is concern, however, that it could be one more arrow in the quiver of an agency that has developed a bad reputation in the last four years because of its heavy-handed enforcement of immigration laws.

About the Author:

Kevin M. Wilson serves as Director of Public Policy and Media Relations for The American Society for Cell Biology. He's worked as the Legislative Director for U.S. Congressman Robert Weygand (D-RI) and as a Legislative Assistant for U.S. Senator Claiborne Pell (D-RI). He has a BA in Politics and American Government from the Catholic University of America. Email: