(Patriot.Buzz) – Revealing a costly scheme funded by American taxpayers, the State Department’s latest report discloses that nearly 200,000 foreign individuals classified as students are employed without paying Social Security and Medicare taxes.
During the 2022-23 academic year, American universities hosted over one million international students, including graduates working under the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, offering a cost advantage to employers over hiring American workers.
This data, part of the annual Open Doors report from the Institute of International Education (IIE), a State Department agency, shows a total of 1,057,188 international students in the U.S. Of these, 858,395 are enrolled in college, while 198,793 participate in the OPT program, reflecting an increase from the previous academic year and more than doubling the number from a decade ago.
The IIE explained the rationale behind including OPT participants as students. “International students on OPT remain on a student visa as their work experience is practical training related to their studies,” stated Trevon James from IIE. He noted that U.S. colleges and universities still oversee student visas and can track those pursuing OPT.
Initially, OPT permitted international students in STEM fields to work with an American employer for 12 months. The program was extended first under President George W. Bush. Then, under the Obama administration, STEM graduates were given a total of 36 months of OPT as “students.”
Critics like David North from the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) argue that the Open Doors report downplays the tax break associated with OPT, estimating a cost of around $1 billion to American taxpayers.
Robert Law, another CIS researcher, emphasized that the F-1 visa, intended for education, should not be converted into a work permit, with OPT functioning as an extensive, congressionally unapproved guest worker program.
China remains the leading country of origin for international students and OPT participants, followed by India and South Korea. The Biden administration has broadened OPT eligibility, adding various majors and proposing extensions for those awaiting H-1B visa approval.
Despite legal challenges, the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear a case against the program’s expansion means the 36-month rule for OPT remains intact.