The following two stories are blatant propaganda pieces, but there is one tidbit of information in each that's worth noting: notice the way they recognize that Optional Practical Training is a de facto H-1B visa. These two quotes tell it all:
'When we go to hire someone, they are typically working off of their student visas,' Scott said. '[Because of the H-1B scarcity], you don't know if these individuals that you've hired are going to get a [visa] and if you're going to be able to continue to employ them past a particular date in that year.'[Visa shortage hurting Georgia businesses By Urvaksh Karkaria The Atlanta Business Chronicle, April 28, 2008 ]
Other applicants are still worrying, though. Henry Suelau, a lawyer with Miles & Stockbridge PC in Baltimore, said his firm submitted about two dozen applications for clients. Many applicants, such as Baltimore Aircoil's, work on extended student visas that expire a year after their college graduation. But the visas they applied for this month don't become effective until Oct. 1. Workers whose student visas expire next month may be forced to leave the country before they learn the status of their application.[Lottery keeps visa applicants in dark By Scott Dance The Baltimore Business Journal (MD), April 28, 2008 ]
I find it more than interesting that these two articles, by two different authors, writing for two different magazines, had such similar things to write. Oh well, it's probably just one of those weird coincidences!
What makes Optional Practical training so pernicious is that Americans are excluded from the entire hiring process. Here's how the process works to leave Americans out of the hiring game:
Norm Matloff discussed OPT in a 2006 newsletter called "Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act Of 2006".
For the last 5-10 years, it has been typical in the industry to have a policy in which it is very difficult for a new graduate to get a software development job without having had internship/co-op experience. And if you don't get into a development position at the beginning, it is quite difficult to get one later. In other words, internship/co-op experience is crucial to being able to have a development career.
Moreover, often in internship/co-op positions a bond develops between the employer and student, making it much easier for the student to get a permanent job with the employer after graduation.
The situation Matloff and I describe is not theoretical. In the year 2000 Norm Matloff uncovered a case where this exact scenario played out at a company called womenconnect.com, who hired a student from Mexico who was attending a U.S. university. To read about it go here.
I helped Matloff to do research that nailed womenconnect. At the time both of us thought the story would be a smoking gun that would cripple the H-1B program. Unfortunately the story was ignored by the media so it turned out to be a dud instead of a smoking gun. We sure tried though!