WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking member of the Senate
Judiciary Committee, is calling on the Biden administration to explain why
critical employer data was omitted from a recent annual report on our nation’s
student visa programs and paid work programs for international students, such
as the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. The OPT and other practical
training programs offer temporary employment to international students that is
ostensibly directly related to their major area of study, but it has been a
source of much fraud over the years.
years, the Optional Practical Training and other practical training programs
have been exploited by scam artists who use fake companies to provide fraudulent
employment offers to international students in order to meet OPT employment
requirements and extend F-1 student visas. Data reporting transparency by the
Trump Administration helped to publicly expose the extent to which some
fraudulent employers had utilized the program, but for some unexplained reason,
that employer data was left out of recent reporting. We need to know why that
decision was made as well as what steps the Biden Administration is taking to
restore transparency and prevent fraud,” Grassley said.
In a letter
to the Department of Homeland Security and Immigration and
Customs Enforcement, Grassley called for answers about the omission and steps
being taken to remedy it.
has long raised concerns about fraud
within the Student Exchange Visa Program.
April 21, 2021
VIA ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION
Honorable Alejandro Mayorkas
of Homeland Security
Honorable Tae D. Johnson
Immigration and Customs Enforcement
Secretary Mayorkas and Acting Director Johnson:
to you today regarding the U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement (ICE)
Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) 2020 report on data from the
Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
annual report contains important data related to our nation’s student visa
programs and paid “practical training” programs, such as the Optional Practical
Training (OPT) program.
are aware, the OPT program gives foreign students in this country on F-1
student visas the opportunity to gain temporary employment in the United States
that is ostensibly “directly related” to their “major area of study.”
F-1 students can receive up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization, which
can be extended by an additional 24 months if the F-1 student has earned a
degree in certain science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.
This is known as the STEM OPT extension. Together these programs, along with
the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) program, act as entry level career
placement programs that are not available to American students.
long raised concerns about fraud and abuse within the F-1 student visa program
and the OPT, STEM OPT, and CPT programs in particular. In March 2018, I sent a
letter to then-Secretary Nielsen regarding bad actors operating “visa mills,”
which pose as educational institutions but actually serve as de facto
employment agencies for students entering the United States on F-1 student visas
and seeking to work.
In May 2020, I followed up on that letter with a letter to then-Acting
Secretary Wolf regarding fraudulent companies that provide fake employment
offers to foreign students so that they can meet OPT employment requirements,
extend their F-1 visas, and remain in
this country after graduation.
letter to Acting Secretary Wolf highlighted the case of Weiyn “Kelly” Huang,
who pleaded guilty in federal court to conspiracy to commit visa fraud after
setting up two fake companies and providing false employment verification to
more than 2,500 individuals who held F-1 student visas.
also referenced troubling media reports of fake companies that potentially
employed thousands of foreign students and appeared on SEVP’s own list of top
In fact, the reports identified the two companies operated by Ms. Huang on SEVP’s
2017 list of OPT employers.
credit, the Trump Administration undertook an effort to increase transparency
surrounding the OPT, STEM OPT, and CPT programs and make more data about the
programs publicly available. As a result, SEVP produced data showing the top
200 employers for OPT, STEM OPT, and CPT students as part of its annual SEVIS data
reports in 2017, 2018, and 2019.
It was this employer data that has helped publicly expose the extent to which
bad actors such as Ms. Huang have infiltrated the OPT and other practical training
programs over the years. It also helped shed light on the amount of work that
still needs to be done to clean up the fraud and abuse in the student visa and
practical training programs.
why I was shocked to see that, without explanation, the Biden Administration
failed to include any data related to OPT, STEM OPT, and CPT employers in
SEVP’s 2020 SEVIS data release and report.
Unlike the three previous years, no data was released related to the top 200
employers for OPT, STEM OPT, and CPT students. Similarly, no employer data was
included in the 2020 “SEVIS by the Numbers” report.
please answer the following questions no later than May 5, 2021:
the list of top OPT, STEM OPT, and CPT employers not included in SEVP’s 2020
Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) data report or the 2020
“SEVIS by the Numbers” report?
SEVP intend to release the 2020 OPT, STEM OPT, and CPT employer data at a later
date? If so, when? If not, why not?
of you and SEVP commit to releasing the same OPT, STEM OPT, and CPT employer
data during each year of the Biden Administration that was released in 2017,
2018, and 2019?
you for your attention to this important matter. Should you have questions, please
contact Drew Robinson of my staff at 202-224-5225.
Senate Committee on the Judiciary
 SEVP Data Library
, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, available at
 Optional Practical Training (OPT) for F-1 Students
Citizenship and Immigration Services, available
from Senator Charles E. Grassley, Chairman, U.S. Senate Committee on the
Judiciary to Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen
(March 22, 2018) available at
from Senator Charles E. Grassley, Chairman, U.S. Senate Committee on Finance to
Acting Secretary Chad Wolf
(May 21, 2020) available at
.; United States of America vs. Weiyun Huang, Plea Agreement, available at
.; Gabe Gutierrez and Rich Gardella, “Thousands of foreign
students in U.S. on student visas may have ‘worked’ for fake companies,” NBC
News (Jan. 2, 2020), available at
 Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) 2020 SEVIS by the Numbers
, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, available at