The US government authorized 257,064 applications as part of its Optional Practical Training (OPT) program in 2016, as per the latest Pew Research Center report. This is close to double the number of applications authorized in 2014, and up from 79,877 in 2008. The report was based on data the group received through a public-records request to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The Optional Practical Training (OPT) lets fresh foreign graduates to stay back in the US and work for 1 year, and is becoming an alternative to the H-1B work visa. In 2016, graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields were authorized to extend their stays by an additional 24 months. Needless to say, the OPT program has become a hit with more foreign students.
Premiere American universities like Columbia University, Yale University and Southern Methodist University have changed their classification of some economics and finance degrees, to let fresh graduates to benefit from the longer STEM option
The graduate workers must be on-site at the employer-limiting options for foreign graduates who want to be employed by consulting firms, where associates spend much of their time embedded in other companies.
USCIS, which issues employment authorization under the OPT program, had said third-party placements "undermine" the STEM extension and thus allowing "increased potential for visa fraud."