International understudies holding F-1 visa can do Optional Practical Training (OPT) for 12-months. It is a work authorization offered to the students who have been full-time students for at least two consecutive semesters and are planning to gain practical experience via employment in the United States in their respective study.
Types of OPT:
Your OPT must be directly interrelated to your course of study. You can be eligible to participate in OPT in two different ways:
- Pre-completion OPT: When you are enrolled as a full time student at a college or university so you can participate in pre-completion OPT. You either have a certification from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). You can still qualify for the pre-completion OPT even if you have non-immigrant status at that time. Students can work part time (20 hours or less per week) while school is in session and then students can work full time when school is not in session.
- Post-completion OPT: You may apply to partake in post-completion OPT after the successful completion of your degree. In the post-completion OPT, you are students can work part time (20 hours or less per week) or full time.
Students that have already participated in the pre-completion OPT, USCIS will deduct that amount of time from post-completion OPT authorization time frame.
Application process for OPT
The OPT application process involves two significant parts. Firstly, students need to apply to BIO for an OPT recommendation on their I-20. Secondly, you need to submit an OPT application packet including a signed copy of your OPT I-20, to USCIS.
- You can apply for OPT up to 90 days before and up to 60 days after your expected program completion date.
- USCIS must receive complete OPT application no more than 60 days after your expected program completion date.
- In addition, USCIS must receive student application within 30 days of when BIO recommends your I-20 for OPT.
- Student need to be physically present in the USA at the time USCIS receives their OPT application.
It is recommended that students should apply for OPT as early as possible to gain the 12 months of OPT. Moreover, early application upsurges their probability and students get the ample time if they are ejected or been denied so they can reapply.
Expected completion date:
- Undergraduates: When students complete all their program requirements.
- Graduates: The last day of enrollment in the semester in which program requirements are completed, OR when they have filed their thesis or dissertation with a Graduate Division. Speak with a BIO adviser if you have a job offer beginning before the last day of the semester. Graduate students whose dissertation/thesis is remaining, may be eligible to begin their post-completion OPT before their application process.
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