The Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (WashTech), a collective bargaining organization that represents science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workers, has sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security seeking to eliminate the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. The OPT program allows foreign nationals on an F-1 student visa to engage in twelve months of employment during and following a full-time course load in a U.S. educational institution. Certain STEM applicants can extend their OPT status an additional 17 months, pursuant to an April 2008 instituted by President George W. Bush’s administration. The OPT is often seen as a bridge to the H-1B program.
WashTech argues that the OPT program causes actual harm to US technology workers because US employers hire these OPT workers when the employers could be hiring these US workers. The WashTech plaintiffs have standing to make their case. The court’s finding that standing exists means that the case can go forward, although the court’s decision does not speak to the likelihood of success when the substantive case is argued.