NAFSA Statement on Brookings Recommendations: A Smarter Way to Retain STEM Foreign Students



Rebecca Morgan, 202.495.2553,
Katie O’Connell, 202.495.2559,

WASHINGTON, March 27, 2015 – A recent analysis by Neil Ruiz, Senior Policy Analyst and Associate Fellow of the Brookings Institution, included several recommendations for obtaining and retaining qualified foreign students. Below is a statement from NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

NAFSA believes that international students, scholars, and their families are vital to U.S. academic and scientific advancement, economic vitality, future security, and global leadership. It has long been evidenced that international education builds bridges between the United States and other countries brings global perspectives into U.S. classrooms and research labs, and supports U.S. innovation through science and engineering coursework.

As the leading professional association of international educators, many of whose 10,000 members work directly with international students, NAFSA is deeply committed to maintaining the integrity of the student visa system and strongly supports rigorous enforcement efforts to put any “bad actors” out of business. NAFSA strongly endorses the following recommendations by Ruiz:

  1. The expansion of the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program should only apply to graduates of accredited schools by an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education or approved by the secretary of education;
  2. In order to protect foreign and U.S. workers from exploitation, the president’s executive order should set wage guidelines for hiring graduates under OPT for more than one year; and
  3. Congress must pass a bill allowing foreign graduates from accredited schools to apply directly for green cards.

NAFSA will continue to work with Congress to pass immigration reform that expands our ability to attract the world's talented students and scholars to our colleges and universities, strengthens our economy, and reclaims the values that make this nation a land of opportunity, equality, and freedom for all.

Read more about NAFSA’s priorities for immigration reform at