WA Alliance of Tech. Workers v. DHS, No. 21-5028 (D.C. Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
The Secretary of Homeland Security promulgated the challenged OPT Rule pursuant to the Executive’s longstanding authority under the INA to set the “time” and “conditions” of nonimmigrants’ stay in the United States. Washington Alliance of Technology Workers (Washtech) argues that the statutory definition of the F-1 visa class precludes the Secretary from exercising the time-and-conditions authority to allow F-1 students to remain for school-recommended practical training after they complete their coursework. The district court sustained the OPT Rule’s authorization of a limited period of post-coursework Optional Practical Training if recommended and overseen by the school and approved by DHS, for qualifying students on F-1 visas.
The DC Circuit affirmed the district court’s judgment. The court explained that Washtech is right that section 1324a(h)(3) is not the source of the relevant regulatory authority; it just defines what it means for an alien to be “unauthorized” for employment. But that was never the government’s point. What matters is that section 1324a(h)(3) expressly acknowledges that employment authorization need not be specifically conferred by statute; it can also be granted by regulation, as it has been in rules promulgated pursuant to DHS’s statutory authority to set the “conditions” of nonimmigrants’ admission to the United States. The OPT Rule’s authorization for F-1 students to work in jobs that provide practical training related to their course of study is just such a rule. Washtech’s claim that the OPT Rule conflicts with the congressional prohibition against unauthorized aliens’ employment therefore fails.