US lawmakers introduce bill to end guest worker program for foreign students on F-1 visa
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, Optional Practical Training (OPT) provides for temporary employment in the area of study of foreign students on F-1 visa.
A group of House Republicans has introduced a bill to eliminate a programme that allows foreign students on an F-1 visa to stay in the United States after their completion of studies under certain conditions. Congressmen Paul A Gosar, Mo Brooks, Andy Biggs and Matt Gaetz introduced the ‘Fairness for High-Skilled Americans Act’ in the House of Representatives to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, Optional Practical Training (OPT) provides for temporary employment in the area of study of F-1 students. They can apply to receive up to 12 months of employment authorization before completing their academic studies and/or after completing their academic studies. If passed, the law would affect thousands of Indians studying in the United States on F-1 student visas.
“What country creates a programme, but not a law, that rewards its businesses to fire citizen workers and replace them with foreign labour to pay the foreign labour less? The United States. The programme is called OPT and it reflects a complete abandonment of our own workers,” Gosar said.
About 80,000 Indian students are employed in the US through OPT and Gosar alleges that the programme circumvents the H-1B cap to allow over 100,000 foreigners working in the US after graduation. He argued that the F-1 visa holders are exempt from payroll taxes, making them at least 10-15 per cent cheaper than a comparable American worker.
“At a time when American college graduates are struggling to find a job and many are saddled with student loans, our government should not be incentivizing foreign employees over Americans. This badly flawed government programme should be eliminated,” he added.
The bill has to pass through the House and the Senate before it can be sent to the president to sign it into law. Since Democrats control both the Chambers of the US Congress, it would not be easy for the Republicans to eliminate the programme.
“Landing that first job out of college will only become more difficult for young Americans as our universities formalise the role they play in crowding out opportunities once reserved for American graduates. For this reason, the OPT must be eliminated,” stated Kevin Lynn, Founder of US Techworkers, a non-profit pushing Congress to “protect” American workers.