MIT Joins Amicus Brief in Support of Optional Practical Training for International Students

November 2019

On November 21, 2019, MIT joined together with over 110 other colleges and universities, to file an amicus brief in support of Optional Practical Training (“OPT”) and STEM OPT in a case pending in federal court in Washington, D.C., Washington Alliance of Technology Workers Union v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

In the case, the plaintiff is asking the court to find that the federal government does not have the authority to grant work authorizations to international students under the OPT program. If successful, the OPT and STEM OPT programs could end. 

In the amicus brief, we explain the vitally important role that OPT and STEM OPT play for the continued education of international students in the United States.  OPT and STEM OPT provide temporary employment authorization to international students to allow them to gain practical training related to their field of study in the United States.  Between 2004 and 2016, nearly 1.5 million international students and graduates participated in OPT, including many at MIT.  The programs recognize the importance of experiential learning as a key component of higher education.

As the amicus brief states:

[OPT] is a longstanding government program that permits international students to continue, and deepen, their education by applying the skills and knowledge they learn in the classroom to a professional setting. OPT provides untold benefits for these international students. But, just as critical, being able to provide international students with the opportunities facilitated by OPT gives American institutions of higher education an edge in an increasingly competitive global education market.

Amici explain that without OPT, the education that international students will receive in the United States will be less robust and the ability of American colleges and universities to attract talent from around the world will diminish. 

A copy of the amicus brief can be found here.