Excerpts that affect international students:
Obama’s most significant actions affecting higher education directly, though, relate to international students.
The administration announced several actions that have direct or indirect implications for international students seeking to stay in the U.S.
Citing the need to strengthen and extend job training for international graduates of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs at U.S. universities, the White House announced that the Department of Homeland Security would propose changes to “expand and extend the use” of the Optional Practical Training program, which provides temporary work authorization to international students for 12 to 29 months post-graduation. The White House also said that it would “require stronger ties” between students participating in OPT and the colleges and universities from which they graduated. No further details on this were available on Thursday night.
The president’s plan does not call for increasing the cap on the number of H-1B visas, which provide a path to permanent residency for international students seeking to remain in the United States and for which there are currently 85,000 slots per year (about a third of which go to former international students, according to a recent Brookings Institution analysis). The administration is, however, finalizing regulations first proposed in May that would allow spouses of certain H-1B visa holders to work, and on Thursday it announced plans to ease some employment and travel-related restrictions for individuals waiting to obtain lawful permanent resident status.
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