- The U.S. Supreme Court will not take up a legal challenge against a visa program that allows foreign students who graduate from U.S. colleges to work in the country for up to three years.
- The high court, in an order Monday, indicated it will not hear a union’s lawsuit against the Optional Practical Training program, which last year benefited more than 117,000 students with F-1 visas.
- Washington Alliance of Technology Workers, or WashTech, had in part argued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security didn’t have the authority to create the program without express congressional approval. The union also said the program creates unfair competition among workers.
Optional Practical Training, or OPT, gives graduates a chance to get practical employment experience in their industries for one year, which can then be extended for an additional 24 months for those in certain science, technology, engineering and math fields.
The union first went after Optional Practical Training, or OPT, in 2014, when it sued over a related federal rule.
A federal court in 2015 found that Homeland Security had not properly followed regulatory proceedings to create the rule. But the court decision allowed the agency to go through that regulatory process, resulting in a rule codifying the current OPT program that took effect in May 2016.
WashTech sued over that regulation shortly thereafter, and the lawsuit had worked its way through courts. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit upheld the program in 2022, and the Supreme Court’s decision to not hear the case effectively ends the union’s challenge.
This could draw some conservative ire. Four Republican senators wrote to the Trump administration in 2020, when COVID-19 had started to spread, asking that the then-president use executive power to suspend OPT to protect the U.S. economy.
Those lawmakers included Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas, and Sen. Chuck Grassley, of Iowa.
“While the merits of such a program are subject to debate, there is certainly no reason to allow foreign students to stay for three additional years just to take jobs that would otherwise go to unemployed Americans as our economy recovers,” the senators wrote.
The Supreme Court will, however, hear oral arguments Tuesday in a separate lawsuit that could affect higher education policy.
It’s considering a case challenging the legality of how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is funded. A ruling in favor of the plaintiff trade groups would curb the power of CFPB, which has served as a watchdog on federal policies related to issues like student loans.