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F-1 OPT Session International Student and Scholar Services Vanderbilt University OPT (Optional Practical Training) What is OPT? Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an employment option available to F-1 students for employment directly related to the major area of study .

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f 1 opt session

F-1 OPT Session

International Student and Scholar Services

Vanderbilt University

opt optional practical training
OPT (Optional Practical Training)

What is OPT?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an employment option available to F-1 students for employment directly related to the major area of study.

  • Standard (initial) 12 month period of OPT per higher degree level.
  • STEM Extension OPT maybe possible for some students.

The Standard 12 month OPT period can be divided into 2 types, Pre-Completion and Post-Completion.

  • Pre-Completion OPT is any OPT used before degree completion and typically part-time
    • Part-time OPT is deducted from the 12-month limit at 50%
  • Post-Completion OPT is any OPT used after degree completion and is ONLY full-time
am i eligible to apply for opt
Am I eligible to apply for OPT?

To be eligible for Standard OPT you must:

  • HAVE maintained legal F-1 status for at least 9 consecutive months or one full academic year.
  • NOT have used full-time CPT for 12 months or more.
standard limitations
Standard Limitations
  • Post-Completion OPT
    • Start date must fall within 60 days of program completion (this is not necessarily the same date as the graduation ceremony)
    • While on full-time Post-Completion OPT, you may enroll in classes that are “incidental” to the employment; Do not begin a new degree program on OPT.
  • Unemployment Limit of 90 days starting from OPT start date
unemployment restriction
Unemployment Restriction
  • During Standard Post-Completion OPT, F-1 status is dependent upon employment.
    • Students may not accrue an aggregate of more than 90 days of unemployment during any Standard Post-Completion OPT.
  • For Standard Post-Completion OPT, the employment does NOT have to be paid employment as long as there is no violation of labor laws, but must be at least 20 hours a week.
    • self-employed
    • short-term multiple employers including performance majors with regular “gigs”
    • interning or volunteering in a position directly related to the academic field
    • work for hire (contractual relationship)
    • employment through an agency
employment notification requirement
Employment Notification Requirement

In all circumstances of employment you must:

  • Work at least 20 hours a week
  • Be in a job that is related to your degree program
  • Inform ISSS of employment by completing the online

OPT Employer Information Form

  • Maintain evidence of all employment and be prepared to provide the information to DHS if requested.
    • Provide evidence showing duration of employment
    • Name and address of employer
    • If Self-employed have proper business licenses
explanation of terms
Explanation of Terms
  • Degree Completion: date you complete all degree requirements, not necessarily graduation ceremony.
    • For Doctorate students could be dissertation submission date.
    • Latest date possible is last day of semester (December 17, 2010 or May 13, 2011)
  • Employment directly related to the major area of study: Immigration recommends that you maintain evidence (for each job) of position held, proof of duration, job title, contact information of supervisor/manager, and description of work.
application process
Application Process

You can apply up to 90 days prior to degree completion, and within the 60 day grace period following degree completion.

  • OPT Application Form
  • OPT Form I-765
  • 2 Passport-Style Photos
  • G-1145 Form
  • $340 Personal Check payable to Department of Homeland Security
  • Copy of I-94 card (front and back)
  • Copy of Passport I.D. page(s) including expiration date
  • Copy of Visa Stamp
  • Copy of all previous Employment Authorization Document (EAD cards)
  • Submit your OPT packet with an International Student Adviser (ISA) during walk-in hours. The adviser will review your application with you and answer any questions you have. Your OPT I-20 will be processed within 2 business days.
    • Once your I-20 is process, your adviser will contact you via e-mail to pick up your finalized OPT during walk-in hours.
    • It is recommended that you keep all I-20s together at all times. I-20s show your F-1 Status history. You should keep the most current I-20 on top and it is the only one that needs to be signed for travel.
changes to standard opt
Changes to Standard OPT
  • Changes to the OPT start and end dates are not easily made.
    • Please be certain of your anticipated employment start and end dates prior to scheduling your appointment with your International Student Adviser. Changes may delay receipt of the EAD.
  • Cancellation of the OPT Application
    • Must be submitted prior to issuance of the EAD
    • Application fee will not be returned
  • Job change is possible
    • Standard OPT is not employer specific.
  • STEM 17 month Extension for students completing degrees in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.
opt processing times
OPT Processing Times
  • Processing Times and how to check your case status:
    • https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/jsps/index.jsp
    • SRC
  • Employment Authorization Document
    • EAD card from USCIS
  • When you pick up your OPT card at ISSS you will need to provide a non-Vanderbilt e-mail address
opt and travel
OPT and Travel
  • Recommended Travel
    • Before the expiration of your I-20, with I-20 travel signature
    • After I-20 has expired and with OPT Receipt Notice, I-20 signed for travel, valid visa, passport.
    • With EAD, signed I-20 for travel, valid visa, passport, letter from employer.
  • Not Recommended Travel
    • The period after your I-20 has expired and before you receive the OPT Receipt Notice.
    • Anytime during OPT and you do not have employment.
    • While STEM Extension is pending
while on opt
While on OPT

While you are on OPT you are still considered an F-1 Vanderbilt student.

Therefore you must:

  • Notify ISSS of any address change via the online Change of Address Form
  • Have your I-20 signed for travel by ISSS
  • Report employment information (name, address, interruption of employment) and changes to employment to ISSS, OPT Employer Information Form. STEM Extension students must complete this form every 6 months.
life after opt
Life after OPT

Within 60 days after completing OPT, you must do one of the following:

  • Depart the U.S.
  • Apply for change of status in the U.S.
  • Transfer to another institution or begin another F-1 program at Vanderbilt.
  • You cannot work during the grace period.
what about an h 1b
What about an H-1B

H-1B cap-gap extension of D/S and work authorization until October 1.

Duration of status and work authorization will be extended for a student on OPT, who is the beneficiary of a timely filed H-1B petition requesting an employment start date of October 1 of the following fiscal year. The extension of duration of status and work authorization would automatically terminate upon the rejection, denial, or revocation of the H-1B petition filed on the student's behalf.

ISSS advises students regarding F-1 and visa matters including processing for the cap-gap extension.

You will need to consult your current employer or an Immigration Attorney regarding H-1B matters.

f 2 dependents
F-2 Dependents
  • Please request a new I-20 for dependents when applying for OPT and after OPT is approved.
  • F-2 dependents are not allowed to work either on-campus or off-campus under any circumstance!
  • F-2 dependents are not allowed to enroll for a full-time degree program of study until change of status application is approved by the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) office.
  • Do I need a job offer to apply for standard OPT?
  • What if my degree completion date is delayed?
  • Where can I work?
  • Can I change jobs while on OPT?
  • Can I have more than one job while on OPT?
  • Once OPT is authorized by USCIS, can it be canceled?
  • Where can I get assistance in finding a job?
    • http://www.vanderbilt.edu/career/
    • Career Planning Guide – Chapter 8 – Job Search for International Students
  • Office Hours

Monday – Friday: 8:00-5:00

  • Walk-in Hours

Monday – Friday: 10am – Noon and 1:30-3:30

  • Student Life Center

310 25th Avenue South, Suite 103

Phone: 615-322-2753

Fax: 615-343-7799

E-mail: isss@vanderbilt.edu

Website: www.vanderbilt.edu/isss