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Subject: Reed College Joins Amicus Brief to Defend Optional Practical Training

November 25, 2019 

Last week, Reed College joined with more than 115 institutions of higher learning in filing an amicus brief in the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers Union vs. U.S. case in U.S. District Court in D. C. to defend the long-standing immigration program known as Optional Practical Training (OPT).

OPT and the more recent expansion STEM OPT permit international students on F-1 visas to pursue training with U.S. employers in positions that are directly related to their course work. These programs provide temporary employment authorization to international students so they may gain practical training.

Removal of this program would reduce America’s competitive advantage when recruiting top international students. Countries like Australia and Canada have similar programs that will draw students away from the United States. At a time when there is increased global competition for international students, the impact of losing programs such as OPT would threaten the United States’ role as the leader in international education.

At Reed, we want to welcome every qualified student who is dedicated to intellectual inquiry and wants to be a part of a community in which everyone can fully participate regardless of identity or nationality. International students, and scholars bring tremendous diversity and new perspectives to Reed. They contribute to our community and to the nation’s workforce. Removing these students would be a tremendous loss.

Reed is proud to support international students, and it is absolutely vital to protect the continued existence of OPT and STEM OPT. Rolling back OPT will harm the 325,000 current international students supported by the program, and would harm the future of American higher education. As many of these students participate in post-graduate OPT, American businesses, corporations, organizations, schools, and communities that benefit from their presence will suffer.

If the court decides to end OPT and STEM OPT, it would potentially affect more than 170 current Reed students and undoubtedly many alumni as so many Reed graduates go on to earn advanced degrees, especially in STEM fields. We joined the amicus brief to help persuade the court to make the right decision.