Ongoing “Operation OPTical Illusion” targets nonimmigrant students fraudulently using OPT to stay in the US.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has arrested 15 foreign students, including 11 Indian nationals in an ongoing operation to check fraudulent use of Optional Practical Training (OPT) program to remain in the US.
One Bangladeshi, one Senegalese and two Libyan nationals were also among those arrested in “Operation OPTical Illusion” targeting nonimmigrant students who claimed to be employed by companies that don’t exist, the agency announced Wednesday.
The arrests took place in and around Boston, Massachusetts; Washington, DC area; Houston, Texas; Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Newark, New Jersey; Nashville, Tennessee; Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
OPT enables nonimmigrant students to work in the US in positions related to their field of study for up to one year, with an additional 24 months if the student participates in STEM optional practical training.
“Today’s announcement is just another example of the Trump Administration not only putting America first but making sure the laws of our immigration system are enforced,” said Acting Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli in an ICE media release.
“Every instance of fraud is a job an American worker could have had, and with so many Americans looking for work this crime is even more unacceptable.”
“ICE has a system of checks in place to mitigate fraud and is committed to protecting national security by ensuring that students, visitors, and schools comply with US immigration laws,” said acting ICE Director Tony Pham.
“These latest arrests demonstrate that the agency is actively targeting individuals who try to exploit the student visa system.”
The agency will continue to vet students who gained new employment through OPT for compliance with their nonimmigrant status. Any identified leads will be reviewed for potential future enforcement, the agency said.
What are your options if H-1B visa is denied? (April 29, 2019)
F-1 visa STEM students will be given OPT for 3 years (February 9, 2016)
The fading charm of the F-1 student visa in Trump era (August 26, 2019)
Judge allows additional arguments on why the OPT program is lawful (July 3, 2019)