Contact: Louisa Tavlas


WASHINGTON, D.C., June 21, 2021 — Last Friday, the Niskanen Center filed an amicus brief in support of the appellees in the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers v. United States Department of Homeland Security, et al. case before the U.S. District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In a series of losses dating back to 2014, the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers alleges that the DHS exceeded its authority in creating the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program and harms native workers.

Since the 1950s, international students studying in the United States have had the opportunity to stay in the country on their student visas after their graduation for a limited time as part of OPT, gaining valuable on-the-job experience and the chance to transition onto longer-term work visas. 

Relying on original research published by the Niskanen Center in 2019, we demonstrate that the OPT program does not injure native workers or increase competition, nor does it circumvent statutory labor protections for native workers. 

On the contrary, the OPT program provides significant economic benefits by helping recruit and retain outstanding international talent, making natives more productive, and promoting innovation.

“Our ability to remain globally competitive and to provide invaluable labor in  STEM fields relies on programs like OPT to retain top talent in the U.S., ” said Kristie De Pena, Niskanen’s vice president of policy and director of immigration. “We are proud that Niskanen’s research can contribute to correcting misleading competition claims and contrived claims about undercutting American wages,” De Pena concluded. 

Please see Niskanen’s original amicus brief filed in November 2019 for additional information on competition filed in district court.

The Niskanen Center is a 501(c)(3) advocacy organization established in 2014 to change public policy through direct engagement in the policymaking process.


Photo by Charles DeLoye on Unsplash