H-1B: Foreign-student work permit OPT, often a visa stepping stone, upheld in court – Pacifica Tribune

A federal judge has ruled that a controversial work-permit program for foreign students will survive a challenge from a union representing U.S. technology workers that wanted it killed.

A who’s who of Bay Area tech giants including Google, Apple, Facebook, Uber, Tesla, HP, Oracle and Salesforce had joined the fight, seeking to protect the Optional Practical Training program — which is often used as a path to an H-1B visa. In a court filing last year, they argued that the program, which gives foreign students and graduates up to three years to live and work in the U.S., expands job opportunities for American workers by spurring economic activity.

The Washington Alliance of Technology Workers sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2014. It claimed the agency used the OPT program to get around the numerical cap on H-1B visas, which are intended for jobs requiring specialized skills, and that OPT workers gained an unfair advantage because employers don’t have to pay Medicare and Social Security taxes for them. The lawsuit sought a court order declaring the program illegal and ending OPT work immediately.

On Monday, Washington, D.C. U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton ruled against the union, also known as WashTech, saying he would provide reasons within 60 days.


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