The latest report released by the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement reveals that majority of the foreign students in the US come from Asian countries, making countries like China, India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Japan, the top 5 source countries.
China dominates the overall list with 481,106 students, however, India tops the list of students with STEM OPT authorization.
Indian students in the US from STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields held 50,507 (or 56 per cent) of the total STEM-OPT authorizations in fiscal 2017.
Out of the other 89,839 STEM OPT foreign students in 2017, 21,075 were from China, 1,670 from South Korea, 1,360 from Taiwan 1,161 from Iran. Further, prominent companies hiring STEM-OPT students were Amazon, Google, Intel, Microsoft, Integra Technologies and Facebook.
The STEM OPT program is a 24-month extension of OPT for qualifying students with STEM degrees. Pre-completion OPT takes place prior to a student’s program end date. Recently, STEM-OPT placements have been a focus area for the Trump Administration. In August, it was reported that USCIS has reversed its earlier stand that international STEM students undergoing OPT cannot be placed at customer work sites. However, employers, even if they place STEM-OPT students at customer work sites, need to meet their training obligations.
Beyond the STEM OPT program, overall there were 1.5 Mn international students studying in various educational institutions in the US in 2017. Out of these Indians accounted for more than 249,763 followed by three other Asian countries—South Korea (95,701), Saudi Arabia (72,358) and Japan (41,862). Other countries like Canada, Vietnam, Brazil, Taiwan and Mexico fell behind in the list of top 10 source countries for foreign students.