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Post-completion OPT . Types of OPT Authorization. Four categories of OPT authorization: Standard Pre-completion OPT Post-completion OPT OPT Extensions Cap-gap OPT extension STEM degree OPT extension. Post-Completion OPT. OPT that begins AFTER a student’s program end date

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Types of opt authorization
Types of OPT Authorization

  • Four categories of OPT authorization:

    • Standard

      • Pre-completion OPT

      • Post-completion OPT

    • OPT Extensions

      • Cap-gap OPT extension

      • STEM degree OPT extension


Post completion opt1
Post-Completion OPT

  • OPT that begins AFTER a student’s program end date

  • Student must be employed for an average of at least 20 hours of work per week

  • Post-completion vs. pre-completion OPT: category is determined by the timing of the student’s requested employment start date in relation to the student’s program completion date, which isbased on institutional policies



Cap gap opt extension
Cap-Gap OPT Extension

  • Automatically extends duration of status and, under certain circumstances, employment authorization for eligible F-1 students; designed to eliminate “gap” between F-1 and H-1B statuses

  • To qualify for the H-1B cap-gap extensions:

    • The student must be the beneficiary of an H-1B petition that:

      • has been timely filed;

      • requests an employment start date of October 1 of the following fiscal year; and

      • requests a change of status; and

    • The student must not have violated the terms or conditions of his or her F-1 status.

  • Cap-gap extensions are terminated if the H-1B petition is rejected, denied, or revoked


Stem degree opt extension
STEM Degree OPT Extension

  • Allows eligible students who have completed a designated Science, Technology, Engineering or Math degree program in the U.S. to apply for a 17-month extension of their OPT authorization

  • Eligible degree programs are determined by CIP (Classification of Instructional Programs) code; a list of eligible degree programs can be found at http://www.ice.gov/sevis/stemlist.htm (last updated 09/25/08)

  • Student’s employer must be enrolled in the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) E-Verify program


How is opt authorized
How is OPT authorized?

  • Student must apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

  • Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization)---current filing fee is $380

  • The student cannot begin employment until the start date noted on the EAD


Applying for opt
Applying for OPT

An application for OPT consists of four steps:

  • The student makes a request for OPT to the DSO

  • After determining eligibility, the DSO updates SEVIS with an OPT recommendation

  • The DSO prepares a Form I-20 with the OPT recommendation and requisite signatures

  • The student files a Form I-765 (with fee) and the Form I-20 with a USCIS Service Center



Post completion opt start date
Post-Completion OPT Start Date

  • Requested start date cannot be more than 60 days past the program end date

  • Late application filing will result in lost days


Post completion opt end date
Post-Completion OPT End Date

  • Requested end date cannot be more than 12 months after the requested start date

  • Authorization to engage in OPT employment is automatically terminated when the student transfers to another school or begins study at another educational level


Limit on periods of unemployment during a period of authorized opt
Limit on Periods of Unemployment During a Period of Authorized OPT

  • Students may accrue up to 90 days of unemployment for each new period of post-completion OPT

  • Students who have OPT extended due to the cap-gap provisions are subject to the 90-day limit on unemployment

  • Students who receive a 17-month STEM OPT extension are given an additional 30 days of unemployment for a total of 120 days over their entire Post-completion OPT period.

  • There is no limit on unemployment during periods of authorized pre-completion OPT


What counts as time unemployed
What counts as time unemployed? Authorized OPT

  • Each day (including weekends) during the period when OPT authorization begins and ends that the student does not have qualifying employment

  • Time spent outside the United States during an approved period of post-completion OPT counts as unemployment unless the student is either:

    • Employed during a period of leave authorized by an employer; or

    • Traveling as part of his or her employment


Employment allowed while on opt
Employment Allowed While On OPT Authorized OPT

  • All OPT employment is required to be in a job that is related to the student’s degree program (but DSO is not responsible for making this determination)

  • This employment may include:

    • Paid employment

    • Multiple employers

    • Multiple short term employers (gigs)

    • Work for hire (independent contractor)

    • Self-employed business owner

    • Employment through an agency or firm

    • Unpaid employment (volunteers or unpaid interns)*:

      (student should be able to provide evidence from the employer to verify that he/she worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of employment)


Reporting requirements post completion opt students
Reporting Requirements: Authorized OPTPost-Completion OPT Students

Student must report to the DSO within 10 days:

  • Legal name change

  • Change in residential or mailing address

  • Change in employer, providing the employer name and employer address

  • Loss of employment


Additional reporting requirements stem degree opt extension students
Additional Reporting Requirements: STEM Degree OPT Extension Students

  • Employer must report the termination or departure of an OPT employee to the DSO within 48 hours of the event


Travel re entry during opt
Travel & Re-Entry During OPT Extension Students

  • Before the program end date--”usual” travel documents required:

    • Valid passport

    • Valid F-1 visa stamp (exception: Canadians)

    • Form I-20 with a valid travel endorsement signature from DSO

  • After the program end date:

    • While Post-completion OPT application is pending: “usual” travel documents* + Form I-797 receipt notice

    • After Post-completion OPT application has been approved: “usual” travel documents* + unexpired EAD + evidence of employment

      *Form I–20 must be signed for re-entry by the DSO within the last 6 months.


Travel while on opt continued
Travel While on OPT (continued) Extension Students

  • Potentially higher risk of visa denial if applying for a new visa during a period of Post-completion OPT authorization

  • Travel is not advised for students during Cap-Gap OPT Extension period due to pending change of status (F1H1B) request and “last action” rules


Questions email heather loughrey at hloughrey@sfc edu or stop by room 2302

Questions? Email Heather Loughrey at hloughrey@sfc.edu or stop by room 2302


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