Immigration Policy Affects (International) Students’ Labour

Immigration policy affects (International) students' labor

Abha Eli Phoboo
The Vista online
Issue date: 7/12/07

The United States immigration laws concerning F1 visa holders prohibit them from working off-campus. Some students take the risk anyway in order to stay in college.

Every semester, incidents of international students arrested by Immigration and Naturalization Services for working off-campus are reported to Office of International Student Services. Students who are arrested fight long, expensive legal battles in a bid to graduate.

“Some international students have it difficult, but they shouldn't work off-campus. The employers should also be punished, not just the students. The students are arrested and deported but the employers will just hire another,” said Jalal Daneshfar, OISS adviser.

On June 28, the immigration bill supported by President Bush was shot down in the Senate, and with it, the hopes of many international students.

Section 525 (b) of the defeated federal bill proposed off-campus work authorization for foreign students. The bill's provision stated “aliens admitted as non-immigrant students may be employed in an off-campus position unrelated to the alien's field of study if (A) the alien has enrolled full-time at the education institution and is maintaining good academic standing; and (B) the employer provides the education institution and the Secretary of Labor with an attestation that the employer (i) has spent at least 21 days recruiting United States citizens to fill the position; and (ii) will pay the alien and other similarly situated workers at a rate equal to or not less than the greater of — the actual wage level for the occupation at the place of employment; or the prevailing wage level for the occupation in the area of employment.”

However, Oklahoma's immigration bill that passed in May, which is touted as the toughest immigration policy in the nation, has no provision for international students.

According to Glenn Freeman, OISS adviser, the options offered to foreign students for off-campus work authorization are: request, due to economic hardship, internship or apply for Optional Practical Training.

“Internships mean paying added tuition and working limited hours and OPT is allowed only for a year,” said Freeman. Decisions for work permit requests due to economic hardship are often a gamble and take three months to be processed. If denied, the student forfeits the application fees.

“The law is a bad law because it punishes students the most. Universities need to do something about it,” said Daneshfar.

National Association of Foreign Student Advisers report foreign students and their dependents contributed approximately $13.49 billion to the U.S. economy in the 2005-2006 academic year. In Oklahoma alone, they contributed $155,973,000.

International students pay around $4,000 per semester for 12 credit hours. This fall, tuition will increase by 7.8 percent.