Optional Practical Training for F-1 Students University of Oklahoma International Student Services 640 Parrington Oval, Room #220 Norman, OK 73019 405-325-3337 email@example.com 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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