The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) released their annual SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) by the Numbers report that shows the number of foreign students enrolled in U.S. has risen by eight percent since 2014. According to the web-based system SEVIS there are 1.2 million international students using the F-1 (academic) or M-1 (vocational) visas in the U.S.
M-1 visas are given to foreign students to attend a specific vocational (non-academic) school or program for a short amount of time. The visa does allow the student to work through the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program but is limited too one month of work for every four months of study.
F-1 visas allow foreign students to attend elementary, middle, high school, or college/university in the United States. International undergraduate or graduate students on an F-1 visa are allowed to participate in the OPT program as well for up to 12 months.
In 2008 the OPT program was extended to 17 months for students who graduated with degrees in the STEM field. According to the SEVIS report thirty-nine percent or 460,000 of the foreign students are enrolled in STEM courses as of November 2015. This extension is set to expire in February though DHS is working on a new rule that would extend the program to 35 months.
The OPT expansion allowed many companies to circumvent the caps on guest worker visas such as the H-1B visa and replace American workers with cheaper foreign student workers. The OPT graduates are exempt from payroll taxes and there is no wage requirements or visa caps on the program.
Read more on this story at ICE.gov.
Updated: Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 3:30pm EDT