Dear Students and Scholars:
We are aware that there is concern about a possible imminent Executive Order impacting the international community. We wanted to share with you what we have been doing to advocate on specific issues. On Wednesday, June 3rd, Berkeley International Office (BIO) sent a letter to our international students and scholars asking you to join our efforts in advocating to protect the F-1 Optional Practical Training Program (OPT) and H-1B visa program. Thank you for your overwhelming support and to all of you who participated in this effort. There continues to be advocacy efforts across multiple associations and institutions who see the value of the OPT and H-1B program to the U.S. BIO is in close touch with the Office of Federal and Government Relations both at UC Berkeley as well as the Office of the President along with our peers across all 10 UC schools.
More recently, the following efforts have being initiated by UC Berkeley and the University of California, Office of Federal and Government Relations (FGR) regarding the OPT and H-1B programs:
You can access copies of all these letters on BIO's advocacy webpage as well as stay connected with what is being done to advocate not only for OPT but more broadly for international education.
- FGR disseminated a letter from President Napolitano and the Chancellors to the California delegation urging support for OPT.
- FGR made a specific push with CA GOP lawmakers urging them to sign on to a GOP only letter in support of OPT, H-1B and J visas.
- Working with the 10 UC campuses, FGR reached out to a number of employers, industry associations and partners, including BIOCOM, CLSA, Silicon Valley Leadership Group and others in an effort to have them reach out directly to Administration officials as well as key GOP members.
- FGR has also been working with UCSA/UCGPC and UAW and they have weighed in with our messaging.
- FGR met with CalChamber and they have agreed to weigh in with a letter to the Hill. In addition, FGR asked them to directly reach out to key members as well.
- FGR has worked with Senator Feinstein's Judiciary counsel on a letter and recently, Senator Feinstein sent a letter to Secretary Pompeo and Acting Secretary Wolf regarding the OPT program and specifically stated that non-immigrant visas tied to education or research at institutions of higher education, such as H-1B and J visas be exempt from future action.
- In addition, UC Berkeley government relations worked with our sister campuses to contact the ten largest employers of OPT for each campus and ask those companies to advocate for the continuation of the OPT program. Several of these companies also reached out to their elected representatives to discuss the importance of the program.
- UC Berkeley worked with the Association of American Universities (AAU) and the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities to develop talking points on the importance of these programs. We encourage you to use these talking points for your advocacy.
Finally, while concern around this possible action is understandable, as of today no official announcement has been made nor have any final details been released. Please know that we are working closely with each other to monitor the issues impacting our international community. BIO will remain in close contact with affected communities as additional information becomes available, and we encourage you to use BIO as your official source of information and guidance. You are welcome to contact a BIO advisor with questions or concerns.
Director, Berkeley International Office
Director, Visiting Scholar and Postdoc Affairs
Director, Office of Federal Relations