Orrick Appellate Team Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of Business Leaders Supporting Important STEM OPT Visa Program

November.25.2019

An Orrick appellate team today filed an amicus brief on behalf of 52 companies and 11 trade associations across industries (representing more than 500 additional companies) supporting a vital STEM program that enables international students who have enrolled or graduated from U.S. universities to remain in the country longer to train in the vital areas of science, technology, engineering and math. The brief, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., sides with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Information Technology Industry Council, who had all intervened to defend the OPT and STEM OPT programs from a challenge by the Washington Alliance of Technology Workers union.

The brief argues that the STEM and STEM OPT programs are crucial to U.S. employers at a time when there is a severe shortage of STEM-trained workers. “Today, companies in every industry and geography of every size, whether formally given the “tech” label or not, depend on workers trained in STEM fields to succeed,” the brief states. “But American companies are facing a sustained scarcity of STEM-trained workers in the United States. Companies, including amici, consistently struggle to fill STEM jobs and often face significant and persistent vacancies. The STEM and OPT programs are critical to addressing that deficit.”

The WashTech case was filed in 2016, challenging the Department of Homeland Security’s programs available to foreign-born students who need the visa program under OPT and STEM OPT as a bridge to exploring longer-term immigration options in the United States. The challenge has attracted widespread backing among businesses and colleges as a result of more recent Trump administration efforts to end or curtail the program.

Orrick partnered with a number of organizations in preparing the amicus arguments, notably FWD.us and 52 companies. The signatories on the amicus brief include tech leaders such as Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft and Oracle, as well as a range of other companies including Dow, Ernst & Young, Github, Salesforce, Warby Parker and Zillow.

Partners Andrew Silverman and Brian Goldman led the amicus effort, along with associates Thomas King-Sun Fu and Elizabeth Cruikshank. We also collaborated with Susannah Landes Weaver of Donahue, Goldberg, Weaver & Littleton.