Bloomberg News Uses OPT Worker to Write Puff Piece on the OPT Program

By David North on May 21, 2020

Bloomberg News published an article on the Optional Practical Training program, written by someone they hired through the Optional Practical Training program in 2018.

The article, on some alien graduates of U.S. colleges and their declining job prospects, failed to mention that fact and, in the grand tradition of the American media, also failed to mention the key fact that the program subsidizes employers who hire alien grads through this program rather than U.S. grads.

The article carried this headline: "Foreign STEM Graduates Are Being Shut Out of the U.S. Job Market" and the bylines were for Shelly Banjo, whose civil status is not known, and Olivia Carville, who said that Bloomberg hired her through the OPT program in a tweet publicizing the article:

We have repeatedly written about the media ignoring the subsidy to employers in this program, which comes through the non-payment of payroll taxes for the foreign grads it hires; this is achieved by an administrative ruling that a foreign college grad is still a student, but American grads are alumni and get no tax breaks. Thus employers can hire the alien worker for an 8 percent discount, and the Social Security and Medicare trust funds pay the bill; no American worker gets this benefit.

But that a reporter writing about OPT is (or was) an OPT worker herself: That's new and disturbing.

This raises the question as to her immigration status. Presumably the members of the class of 2018 graduated in June of that year, and would routinely be given one year's OPT status; only people with degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) get the two-year additional OPT period.

So either Bloomberg has kept her on the payroll — contrary to law and regulation — for one year after her OPT period expired, or journalism is somehow a STEM field, or she had a STEM undergraduate degree in addition to her master's from Columbia, or she moved on to H-1B (or some other) status.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.