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Practical Advice on Practical Training

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					Optional Practical Training
for F-1 Students
University of Oklahoma International Student Services
640 Parrington Oval, Room #220
Norman, OK 73019
405-325-3337
iss@ou.edu
http://www.ou.edu/cis/iss
Important Terms

   DSO: Designated School Official – OU
    International Student Advisor
   USCIS: US Citizenship and Immigration
    Services
   OPT: optional practical training
   CPT: curricular practical training
   EAD: employment authorization document
    (card)
Practical Training: Two Types


  An F-1 student may wish to find an
  internship (CPT) or temporary employment
  (OPT) to gain practical experience in the
  field of study.
Type 1:
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
 Internship offered by sponsoring employers
 through agreements with the university that is
 required as an integral part of an established
 curriculum, or will count toward degree
 requirements. CPT is recommended by the
 academic advisor and authorized by the
 DSO.
Type 2:
Optional Practical Training (OPT)

   Temporary employment authorization granted
    by USCIS for practical training that is directly
    related to the student’s major area of study.
   OPT can be taken during annual summer
    vacation, part-time during regular school
    session, after completion of course
    requirements or after completion of course of
    study.
  Optional Practical Training
   Preconditions                  Location                     Duration                 Hours/Week
Lawfully enrolled as    May be employed               Initial 12 months of      After degree completion,
full-time student for   anywhere by any               full-time employment      all OPT must be full-time.
one academic year       employer , but all            authorization. Up to 29   Full-time pre-completion
(fall and spring).      employment must be in         months for qualifying     OPT during summer
                        field of study. You must      STEM graduates. OPT       breaks. Part-time pre-
                        update ISS of your            extension to October 1    completion OPT during
                        personal address and          now possible to meet      semesters.
                        employer address while        cap gap if H-1B is
                        on OPT.                       approved. Part-time
                                                      pre-completion OPT is
                                                      deducted from 12-
                                                      month limit at 50%.
         Field            Offer of Employment               Enrollment                   Approval
Must be directly        No offer letter required to   If pre-completion OPT,    Recommendation: apply
related to major        apply. Student must work,     maintain full course      to USCIS before degree
field of study          or actively seek work. 90+    load during               completion (post-
indicated on I-20.      days of unemployment =        employment (unless        completion OPT).
Burden of proof is      loss of F-1 status (120       summer). Post-            Possible: apply 60 days
on the student to       days if unemployment          completion= no            after degree completion.
ensure this!            occurs during 17-month        requirement.              For pre-completion OPT,
                        extension)                                              must apply before work
                                                                                begins
OPT can be authorized in the
following ways:
   After completion of the degree program
    (undergraduates: last day of semester; graduate
    students: defense date, or last day of semester in which
    defense took place)
   After completion of all course requirements for the
    degree, excluding thesis or dissertation (I-20 CANNOT
    be extended after graduation)
   Full-time (20+ hours per week) as pre-completion OPT
    during summer break
   Part-time while school is in session (20 hours or less per
    week). Minimum enrollment requirements apply!
Post-completion OPT? Determine your
start date!
   Apply for post-completion OPT either before you
    graduate – beginning 90 days prior to degree completion
    or in the 60-day grace period after graduation
   Post-completion OPT begins after you graduate (60-day
    window following graduation)
   Applying for OPT after graduation may cause you to
    lose weeks of work authorization
   You must choose your preferred OPT start date when
    you submit your application to OU ISS
   Last possible date to start OPT: 60 days after end of
    semester
What are the OPT reporting
requirements?
   Student must routinely report your US employer work
    address and personal address
   Student must report start and end dates of any period of
    unemployment
   Information is reported in SEVIS by OU ISS
   90+ days of unemployment = loss of F-1 status
   US employer must report to OU ISS the departure of F-1
    student within 48 hours
IMPORTANT INFORMATION
FOR GRADUATE ASSISTANTS
If you choose a completion date that is mid-semester or NOT the end of the regular
     semester:

   You must not continue any employment, paid or unpaid, on campus after you
    completion date
   You will no longer be eligible for tuition waiver as of your completion date. You may
    be required to pay back your tuition waiver
   Not eligible for on-campus employment after that date
   Not eligible to continue graduate assistant appointments after that date
   The only way to avoid these complications is to SELECT THE PROGRAM
    COMPLETION DATE THAT IS THE END OF THE SEMESTER
                  F-1 to H-1B status
                    Key Concepts:
                                       OPT                   OPT
             F-1                    2/18/2010-
                                    2/17/2011            = F-1 status


                                   For-profit US         Approved H-1Bs
                                  employers can           with for-profit
             H-1B                  submit H-1B
                                 petitions starting
                                                        employers have a
                                                           start date of
                                       April 1              October 1



                “Cap              Request cap gap
                                  extension of OPT
                                   from OU ISS as
                                                            Cap gap
                                                            extension

                gap”
                                                          extends work
                                  soon as you have       authorization to
                                 H-1B receipt notice!
                                                             Sept. 30



OU charges work authorization extension processing fee of $100 for OPT “cap
gap” extensions and OPT STEM extensions– payable at time documents are
submitted for work authorization extension request
What is the “cap gap”?
   H-1B visa = most common employment-based visa in the US
   65,000 H-1B visas available each year (the “cap”) – limited by US
    Congress
   For-profit companies may submit H-1B visa applications on April 1
    each year
   H-1B visas begin on October 1 (for-profit companies)
   The H-1B “cap gap” eliminated by extending OPT employment and
    status for those who are beneficiaries of an H-1B petition with an
    October 1 start date
   Non-profit companies not subject to the H-1B cap (hospitals,
    universities, etc.)
   OPT frequently ends before October 1, creating a “gap” in the work
    authorization and visa status
    Transition from [F-1 student] to
    [H-1B employee] – typical timeline

                          H-1B receipt         Cap gap extension
F-1 student
                          notice issued        of OPT 9 July 2011
graduates!
                          3 Jun 2011           to 30 Sep 2011
15 May 2010

                                                               F-1 status H-1B status

OPT starts       H-1B petition                   Initial OPT
10 Jul 2010      submitted                       ends
                 1 Apr 2011                      9 July 2011
                                    10 Jun 2011 –                H-1B starts
                                    student contacts             1 Oct 2011
         Student wows               OU ISS for cap
         employer with              gap extension
         performance!
What are STEM degrees?
STEM Fields include:12-month limit on OPT extended by 17 months, for a total of 29 months for
   certain students who have completed STEM degrees in the US ONLY

  Actuarial Science
  Computer Science Applications
  Engineering, including Chemical Engineering
  Engineering Technologies
  Biological and Biomedical Sciences
  Mathematics and Statistics
  Military Technologies
  Physical Sciences
  Science Technologies
  Medical Scientist (MS, PhD)
Many fields are not included in the STEM list, including Business, Architecture, Human Relations, and
   Fine Arts.

Students are eligible to apply for the 17-month STEM extension 90 days prior to their EAD expiration
    date. Go to www.ou.edu/iss for complete information and application materials.
120+ days of unemployment during STEM extension period = loss of F-1 status
Frequently Asked Questions

1.   Can I get more OPT at a later date?
2.   Can my OPT be cancelled?
3.   Can I study while on OPT?
4.   Can I change employers during OPT?
5.   Can I travel out of the US while on OPT?
6.   Do I get a grace period after OPT?
FAQ 1:
Can I get more OPT at a later date?
    Yes, in some cases.
    12 full months of full-time OPT per degree;
     subsequent degrees must be at higher
     degree level
    STEM-qualifying graduates working for
     employers enrolled in E-Verify – 17 additional
     months of OPT
    F-1 students with H-1B cap gap may apply for
     an extension to October 1 to bridge the cap
     gap
FAQ 2: Can I withdraw or change my
OPT application?
   difficult to change start date of the OPT application after
    submission
   difficult to cancel all or part of a period of OPT once EAD card
    is issued
   If you choose to withdraw your OPT application, your I-20
    must be extended to a new program completion date.
   Months to resolve on-campus employment and status issues
   Must pay OPT application fee again if you reapply later
   Due to F-1 status issues and cost to student, we urge
    students to choose a firm degree completion date and OPT
    start date.
FAQ 3:
Can I study while on OPT?
YES, if
 Remaining requirements, such as a thesis or
  dissertation, for a current degree program
 A required course that you were unable to take in your
  final semester of your degree program
 Post-degree certification/licensure programs (examples:
  Human Relations, Accounting)
NO, if
 You begin a new degree program (start date of new I-20
  ENDS OPT)
 You earn credit that COULD COUNT toward a new
  degree later
FAQ 4:
Can I change employers during OPT?
   Yes
   ALL employment must be directly related to the
    field of study on the I-20
   You must routinely report your US employer and
    work address to OU ISS. Failure to report could
    result in a loss of F-1 status.
FAQ 5: Can I travel out of the US
while on OPT?
    OPT = F-1 status.
    Travel abroad with:
      I-20 signed for travel by OU DSO

      EAD card

      Valid passport and valid F-1 visa

      employment confirmation letter.

    Departure from the US without the EAD is fine. You must have
     the above documents to reenter the US.
    It may be more difficult to renew an F-1 visa while on OPT.
FAQ 6:
Do I get a grace period after I
complete OPT?
    Yes.
    60-day grace period following the completion date of
     OPT if you applied for OPT BEFORE graduating.
    The time the OPT application was pending does NOT
     count against the grace period if you applied for OPT
     BEFORE graduating.
    You may change immigration status during the grace
     period, obtain an I-20 for a new degree program, or
     depart the US.
    You are NOT work-authorized during the grace
     period.
OPT application procedures
   Submit to OU ISS (no appointment necessary to submit):
       •$380 check or money order processing fee
       •2 passport-size photos
       •Completed I-765 (OU ISS office address - pre-filled in #3;
       address where EAD will be sent)
       •2 copies of all immigration documents (passport bio page, visa,
       I-94, I-20s for current degree level if you used CPT or pre-
       completion OPT, former EADs) – DO NOT STAPLE
       • Academic Advisor recommendation form and personal contact
       information form
       •Make OPT processing appointment with OU DSO
   Meet with OU DSO to finalize OPT application prior to submission to
   USCIS
     Notes on OPT application procedure
   USCIS receipt notice
   Receipt number - track application status on
    www.uscis.gov
   OU ISS office will notify you via email when we
    receive your receipt notice and EAD
   DO NOT begin employment until you have the EAD
    and the start date is current (pre-completion and
    post-completion OPT)
   OPT employment authorization is strictly regulated
    under US federal immigration law. Working before
    the OPT start date on your EAD IS A SERIOUS VISA
    VIOLATION AND CAN RESULT IN A LOSS OF
    YOUR F-1 VISA STATUS.

				
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