International Student Mobilities and the Geography of Optional Practical Training

Authors: James Kaemmerer*, University of Missouri - Columbia
Topics: Migration
Keywords: Optional Practical Training, OPT, international students, mobility, migration
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/9/2020
Start / End Time: 1:45 PM / 3:00 PM
Room: Plaza Court 4, Sheraton, Concourse Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper presents the findings of a two-year thesis project that looked at the post-graduation employment mobilities of international students in the United States participating in Optional Practical Training (OPT). The project focuses specifically on Missouri-educated OPT participants but suggests wider generalizability. The presentation will be separated into three parts: 1) an overview of the mapped distribution patterns of OPT employment location data; 2) the results of a map-based questionnaire given to international students in their final semester that surveyed pre-graduation employment location preferences; and 3) the results of follow-up qualitative interviews with current OPT participants. Questions that will be explored include: Where do international students prefer to work BEFORE they graduate? Where do international students actually work AFTER they graduate? What explains these patterns and preferences? And why does it matter?

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