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Post-Completion Optional Practical Training. International Students & Scholars Office Tess Casler, Director. AGENDA. Review Optional Practical Training Answer the question - What are the new OPT rules? STEM extension Cap-Gap provision Unemployment How/when to apply Travel

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Post-Completion Optional Practical Training

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Post completion optional practical training

Post-Completion Optional Practical Training

International Students & Scholars Office

Tess Casler, Director



  • Review Optional Practical Training

  • Answer the question - What are the new OPT rules?

    • STEM extension

    • Cap-Gap provision

    • Unemployment

  • How/when to apply

  • Travel

  • Time for questions

What is optional practical training

What is Optional Practical Training?

Optional practical training is defined as

Optional Practical Training is defined as…

“temporary employment for practical training directed related to the student’s major area of study.”

8 C.F.R. – 214.2(f) (10) (ii)

Three kinds of opt can be identified as

Three kinds of OPT can be identified as…

  • Pre-completion OPT

    • Participation in OPT employment prior to completion of a program

  • Post-completion OPT

    • Participation in OPT employment after completion of a program

  • 17-month extensions of post-completion OPT for certain STEM degree holders

    • Extension to a current 12 month post completion OPT period for a total of 29 months

Pre post completion opt can be authorized

Pre & Post Completion OPT can be authorized…

  • “During the student’s annual vacation and at other times when school is not in session

    • If the student is

      • Currently enrolled

      • Eligible for registration, and

      • Intends to register for the next term or session”

        8 C.F.R. - [214.2(f)(10)(ii)(A)(1)]

Pre post completion opt can be authorized1

Pre & Post Completion OPT can be authorized…

  • “While school is in session, provided that practical training does not exceed 20 hours a week while school is in session”

    8 C.F.R. - [214.2(f)(10)(ii)(A)(2)]

Pre post completion opt can be authorized2

Pre & Post Completion OPT can be authorized…

  • “After completion of the course of study, or, for a student in a bachelor's, master’s or doctoral degree program, after completion of all course requirements for the degree (excluding thesis or equivalent)…”

    8 C.F.R. – [214.2(f)(10)(ii)(A)(3)]

What does all that mean

What does all that mean?

  • Your program end date on your I-20 becomes very important in what type of optional practical training you are eligible to apply for

    • Please note – F1 program end is very different from Clarkson program end

What are the new opt rules

What are the ‘new’ OPT rules?

Post completion optional practical training

  • On April 8, 2008, The Department of Homeland Security published the Interim Final Rule that makes significant changes to Post-Completion Optional Practical Training for F-1 students.

  • This ‘interim-final rule’ became effective on 4/8/08

  • The comment period has ended as of 6/9/2008

6 highlights of the interim final rule

6 highlights of the ‘Interim-Final Rule’

  • Changes to OPT filing periods

  • Duration of employment authorization has been clarified

  • New reporting requirements for the student and the employer

  • Certain STEM degree holders can extend their current OPT period by 17 months

  • Students with pending or approved H1B visa applications will have ‘automatic employment extensions’

  • Post-Completion OPT now depended on employment

Highlights broken down

Highlights – broken down

Changes to filing deadlines

Changes to filing deadlines

  • You are now eligible to file your application up to 90 days prior to the program end date noted on your I-20 and up to 60 days after completion of your program end

Duration of employment clarified

Duration of employment – clarified…

  • Your employment authorization will begin on the date requested or the date the employment authorization is adjudicated – whichever is later

    Exception: The 17-month extension period will begin the day after your current 12-month OPT period and end 17 months later – regardless of when the extension is approved

New reporting requirements

New reporting requirements

  • All students on OPT are required to report to the ISSO…

    • Changes to your name and/or your address in the United States

    • Changes in your employment and/or any interruption to that employment

In addition

In addition…

  • All student with approved 17 month extensions must report in 10 days changes to…

    • Legal name

    • Residential or mailing address

    • Employer name and address

    • Loss of employment

  • All students on approved 17 month extension must also file a validation report to my office every 6 months.

Stem extensions

STEM Extensions

17 month STEM extensions are only possible once per lifetime – regardless of your degree level.

  • This extension is granted in one 17 month period and cannot be split

  • To qualify –

    • You must be on an approved Post-Completion OPT period

    • You must have a degree in a STEM major as noted on the Department of Homeland Security STEM program list

    • You must be working at an employer registered with the E-verify employee verification program

  • You can view application procedures on the ISSO website at

Cap gap extensions

Cap-Gap Extensions

  • For any student on post-completion OPT and who is the beneficiary of a timely-filed H-1B petition requesting employment for the following fiscal year – will have an automatic extension to their duration of status and work authorization

    • This applies to all students on post-completion OPT – regardless of major.

Cap gap continued

Cap-Gap continued…

  • The extension begins the date the H1B application is filed – not the receipt date

  • The ‘automatic extension’ terminates when USCIS rejects – denies – or revokes the H1B petition.

    • In this case – as long as you have not otherwise violated status – you still have a 60 day grace period after the termination to depart the US – change degree level – transfer – change to another visa status.

  • Student under the ‘cap-gap’ extension must submit to the ISSO a copy of their filed/approved H1B petition to have their I-20 ‘corrected’ with employment authorization (This may change during the final rule)

  • Students under the ‘cap-gap’ extension still need to follow mandatory reporting of US residence and employer information



Post-completion OPT is now dependent upon employment – in order to maintain status while on OPT – students are now limited in the amount of time they can be unemployed.

  • Student on the initial 12 month OPT period cannot accrue more than a total of 90 days of unemployment

  • Students granted the 17-month STEM extension cannot accrue more than a total of 120 days of unemployment

Unemployment continued

Unemployment continued…

  • Unemployment accruals begin the first day of approved Post-completion OPT

    • Note – unemployment does not accrue for those on pre-completion OPT

  • Future benefits may be affected should you accrue more than 90/120 days of unemployment

    • Therefore – it is strongly recommended that you thoroughly document any period of unemployment

    • It is not detailed in the regulations what is a day of unemployment – therefore – it is suggested you only count a typical business day and exclude weekends and holidays.

How when to apply

How/When to apply

What to do first

What to do first…

  • Review OPT application procedures on the ISSO website – (found under current F1 students – employment)

  • Discuss your completion plans with your advisor and obtain a letter from your advisor recommending OPT

Basic application materials

Basic application materials…

Once you discuss your plans with your advisor and have reviewed the information on the ISSO website – gather the following materials before you make an appointment with my office.

  • A letter from your advisor (for my office)

  • ISSO OPT data sheet (for my office)

  • Form I-765 – completed and signed (blue ink)

  • Two color passport photos

  • All issued I-20’s – passport – visa – I-94

  • OPT filing fee – currently $340

Post completion optional practical training

Please be sure you use a valid mailing address.

Note – you can use my address

This is the code for post-completion OPT -(c)(3)(B)

STEM Ext – (c)(3)(C)

Pre-completion – (c)(3)(A)

Timing when to apply

Timing when to apply…

Timing when you apply for OPT can be a difficult challenge considering new and updated OPT regulations. During our appointment we can get into various timeline scenarios. However –

  • While you can apply after you graduate – please keep in mind that you cannot begin work until you have card in hand – even if your employer makes ‘arrangements’ for you to do so. It is a very serious consequence to engage in ‘unauthorized employment’

  • Your ’14-month’ clock begins from the program end date on your I-20. This means that you have 14 months to complete your 60 day grace period and 12 months of OPT

  • CHECK CURRENT PROCESSING TIMES – it is currently taking 2 ½ - 3 months to process.

  • Consult my office on procedures if your application is pending more than 90 days.

Travel while on opt

Travel while on OPT



I have a detailed FAQ on travel on OPT – please review.

For all intents and purposes – you are able to travel while your application is pending and in some cases when approved.

You are able to travel when

You are able to travel when…

  • You have submitted an OPT application and your program has not ended

  • You have a pending OPT application

  • You have approved OPT and a job offer

Caution should be exercised when

Caution should be exercised when…

  • Your OPT application has been approved and you do not have a job.



  • ISSO website –

  • Career Center – you are eligible for career services. Please remember to review career services from their website at

    • Specifically –

      • information on Knightlink (free to all students)

      • EmployOn



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