by Mike Masnick

Filed Under:
immigration, science, technology, visa

Looks Like Visa Program For Science & Tech Grads Isn't Really Being Used For The Best & Brightest

from the unfortunate dept

theodp writes in to let us know:
"By enacting a controversial 'emergency' rule in 2008 allowing foreign students who earn degrees in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) in the U.S. to work for American employers for 29 months of Optional Practical Training (OPT) without the need for an H-1B visa, Department of Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff boasted he was 'giving U.S. companies a competitive advantage in the world economy.' Microsoft applauded the move, saying the program would allow U.S. companies to recruit and retain the 'best' science and tech students educated at the top U.S. universities. And last April, the DHS quashed a legal challenge to the program, telling the U.S. Supreme Court that 'the public interest would be disserved' without the program.

Noticeably absent from the DHS brief, however, were any details on the two-year old program's participants. But now, a Computerworld report suggests why the agency may have been less-than-eager to share any details with the Court. Not only is the DHS program dominated by for-profit Stratford University, whose 727 approved OPT STEM extension requests is more than twice the combined total of the entire Ivy League - Brown (26), Columbia (105), Cornell (90), Dartmouth (18), Harvard (27), Princeton (16), Penn (50), and Yale (9) - it turns out the program is also being embraced by IT outsourcing and offshoring companies like Kelly Services, whose entities snagged about 50 approvals, more than twice the combined total of Google (15), Amazon.com (2), Yahoo (2), and Facebook (3). More details on the 20,000 OPT STEM extension requests filed since mid-2008 can be found in Computerworld's interactive database."
I'll admit that I was a supporter of this program when it was first announced. I believe that we should absolutely be opening our borders to those skilled in science and technology, and keep them working in the US so that they're working to improve US competitiveness, rather than competing with US firms elsewhere. Unfortunately, it certainly looks like (as with the H-1B program) that it is not being used in the way it should be used. This is unfortunate, as anti-immigration folks will simply use this as evidence to block important, useful and job-creating immigration, insisting that all such efforts are abuses. That's not true, but when a program like this is not really being used for the best and brightest, then it's been improperly designed.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    darryl, 23 Nov 2010 @ 9:24am

    academic eliteism... !!

    Principle Skinner:

    "Otto, you graduated from Brown didn't you ?"


    Yep, nearly got tenure too !!.

    but seriously its nice to see Mike bring in a bit of academic eliteism here.

    Ofcouse only the richest and most well of should be given access to something that might help you get a job :)

    So can we add academic snob to your CV mike ?


    someone said america needs an opportunity to be competitive, they had that, they lost it, they need to stop borrowing off china, tax your own people, stop borrowing off you're kids, and start to make things for yourselves.

    You've done it before, why cant you work out how to do it again.

    Thats right it's easier to just blame Obama, after all he's had 2 years to clear a 10 trillion dollow debt, with no congressional help.. but it's all his fault..

    time will tell,, and not much time, you think its bad in the US now, wait a couple of years..

    because then its really going to suck, when you find your Government is broke. and china own's you..

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Techdirt Logo Gear
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.