College leaders back OPT for international students in court fight with union

More than 100 colleges and universities are defending a foreign student work program that’s the target of a yearslong federal court battle.

The “Optional Practical Training” program — known widely in education circles as OPT — has taken fire from a West Coast labor union that argues the policy was unlawfully implemented and unfairly disadvantages domestic workers.

The temporary employment program allows international students to work in the United States during or after their studies, and the concept has bolstered sluggish foreign student enrollment growth in the country. Now 118 higher education institutions have submitted a fresh court filing to defend the program and undercut the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers’ lawsuit to shut it down.

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