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Nearly 1.6 million foreign students studied in the United States in 2017, according to new data released by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Of those, 328,205 participated in the Optional Training Program (OPT), which allows foreign students to work jobs in the U.S. for purposes of gaining real-world experience in their fields. The OPT program has been used as a bridge to H-1B visas for high-tech employers.

The data dump is part of the Trump Administration's effort to improve the transparency of federal immigration statistics and is based on information recorded by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP).

Of the 1.6 million foreign students, 481,106 came from China and 249, 763 came from India. Those two countries alone accounted for nearly half of all foreign students in the United States in 2017. They were followed by South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and Japan.

The data show a massive expansion of the OPT program under the Obama Administration. In 2014, Pres. Obama included an expansion of OPT is a number of immigration executive actions, including the DAPA executive amnesty that was later struck down by the courts. OPT authorizations increased from 3,077 in 2007 to 219,635 in 2017.

Amazon employed the most OPT recipients, hiring 3,655 foreign students through the program in 2017. Integra Technologies, Intel Tellon Trading, Google, Deloitte, and Microsoft all employed more than 1,000 OPT workers. Tech giants Facebook, IBM, and Apple employed 798, 633, and 587, respectively.

You can see all the data here.

Updated: Fri, Nov 9th 2018 @ 2:50pm EST