Augustana College President Steve Bahls has joined 150 other college presidents in signing an amicus brief to support a federal program that allows international students to work here and extend their student visas.
International students seeking to remain in the U.S. to gain further experience in their chosen fields use Optional Practical Training (OPT), a long-standing federal program.
“OPT is incredibly important to Augustana and our international students,” said President Steve Bahls. “It allows them to continue benefiting from their education in the U.S. and seek additional experiential opportunities post-graduation.”
Graduating students can seek employment in their field of study and benefit from a 1-3 year extension of their student visas.
The Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (Washtech) filed suit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security claiming the department is not authorized to grant work authorization (the basis of OPT). The case is before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
If this challenge succeeds, OPT would no longer exist as an option for international students.
Augustana was made up of 10.8% international students for the 2020-2021 academic year. The college anticipates more than 130 new international students this fall.
“OPT has been absolutely vital to me in my career,” said Augustana graduate and international student Chris Wilson ‘18. “OPT allowed me to take the first step in securing employment in my field and opened doors that would have otherwise been closed to myself and fellow international students.”
Wilson works at Monmouth College and assists international students seeking U.S. higher education.
“Augustana is proud to be a second home to international students from across the globe,” said President Bahls. “We readily support the protection of OPT and are devoted to helping our international students navigate the next steps after graduating from Augie.”