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Optional Practical Training!. WHAT IS IT? WHY DO I WANT IT? HOW DO I GET IT? AND WHAT IS A STEM EXTENSION?. What is OPT?. Twelve (12) month work-authorization for the F-1 student visa Purpose: work experience in field of study

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optional practical training
Optional Practical Training!





what is opt
What is OPT?
  • Twelve (12) month work-authorization for the F-1 student visa
  • Purpose: work experience in field of study
  • US Immigration sees OPT = “Benefit” of valid visa status and “Academic Training”
opt what you need to know
OPT- What You Need to Know:
  • Must apply through USCIS and pay $380
  • Three (3) months to process
  • When approved, get card called “EAD”
  • Can work anywhere in the U.S.
  • Don’t need a job to apply
  • Days of unemployment will be counted (90 Max)
  • Work must be related to your degree
  • One OPT after each higher academic level
  • Report information to OIE while on OPT (still F-1)
two types of opt
Two Types of OPT

1) Pre-Completion

  • OPT starts and ends before you complete your degree.
  • Must be part-time (20 hrs/wk) during semester unless you have completed all course requirements except thesis or dissertation.
  • Days of Unemployment are not counted

2) Post-Completion

  • OPT begins after your completion date
  • Must work at least 20 hrs/wk or more
  • Must apply for each of these separately
  • Allowed up to 12 months total combined
what is my completion date
What is my Completion Date?

For immigration purposes, it is NOT the day you graduate.

  • Undergraduate Students:
    • Final day of examinations of your final semester

May 2011 -> Friday, May 13th

  • Graduate Students:
    • Final day of examinations of your final semester
    • The date that you defend
    • The date you turn in your thesis/dissertation with all corrections
  • Grad Students who have completed all courseworkand have only thesis/dissertation remaining:
    • Any date that is best for your situation

The OPT start date can not be more than 60 days

past your program completion date.

If your completion date is May 13th,

then the latest date you could start OPT is July 12, 2011

what is the stem extension
What is the STEM Extension?
  • An additional 17 months of work authorization if you have:
    • A degree in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, field of study.
    • A job/job offer with an employer who has signed up with the E-Verify program (federal contracts)
    • Currently working on 12-month OPT
  • Applying for the STEM:
    • Very similar process to 12-month OPT ($380, paperwork)
    • Contact OIE 60-90 days prior to expiration of initial OPT
    • Must apply *before* your current OPT ends
  • May continue to work while waiting for approval and new card
  • Can’t travel outside of the US until you get your new STEM EAD card.
what about the h1b visa
What about the H1B visa?
  • Company must sponsor you for this visa type.
  • F-1 visa ends upon H1B start date.
  • Private Sector: H1B applications are submitted starting on 04/01

and close on 10/01. OIE can issue a “Cap-Gap I-20” if needed.

  • Non-Profit/University : H1Bs can be submitted at any time.
  • If approved, contact OIE and send copy of Approval Notice.
how to apply for opt
How to Apply for OPT
  • Choose a start-date then submit OPT application 3 months before that date!
    • Apply early! USCIS 90 days processing time
    • Deadline = 60 days past your completion date.
  • Gather necessary documents
    • Copies of immigration docs
    • Passport style photos
    • Check or Money Order for $380
    • Completed Form I-765
    • Letter from Advisor
  • Schedule an appointment with Amelia: She will issue a new OPT I-20 and be happy to look over your application before you mail it.
  • Mail application packet to USCIS: Be careful -- Read instructions!
the application packet
The Application Packet
  • Complete Form 1-765
  • Check for $380 to USDHS
  • Copies of:
    • Passport ID page
    • I-94 and visa stamp
    • OPT I-20
    • All previous I-20s
    • Any previous EADs
    • 2 passport photos

Where can I passport photos?

Ritz Camera (12$/2) - 861 Williston Rd.

Photo Garden (12$/6) – 10 Dorset St

Chittenden Superior Court (13$/2) – 175 Main

FedEx/Kinkos (14$/2) - 199 Main/Winooski

what happens next
What Happens Next?
  • Wait.
  • Notification from USCIS in 2-3 weeks = they received it.
  • Case Number in left-hand corner to check status online at www.uscis.gov
  • 90-Day processing period begins from date of receipt
the wait
The Wait
  • You cannot begin working until the EAD is in your hand!
  • You cannot begin working before the start date on your EAD

Prepare to be patient; a 90-day wait is normal

Be clear with potential employers

Check case status online at https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/Dashboard.do

Update address with USCIS at 1 (800) 375-5283

to prevent delays in receiving your card

yay i got my ead card
YAY! I got my EAD card! 
  • Copy the card and send it to Amelia
  • May begin work from start date
  • Report address change to Amelia
  • Report employer name and address

Now what?

travel and opt
Travel and OPT
  • Best advice: Don’t travel while OPT application is pending.
  • If travel is necessary while OPT is pending or before OPT starts, consult with Amelia
  • After OPT is granted and start date has passed:
    • Do NOT travel outside the U.S. if you do not have a job!
    • While on OPT, you must present the following upon re-entry to US:
        • EAD (OPT card)
        • Proof of employment
        • I-20 signed within last6months
        • Valid F-1 visa
while on opt
While on OPT


  • Do not accrue more than
    • 90 days unemployment
    • 120 days (STEM)
  • Work in a field related to your degree program
  • I-20 signed every six (6) months
  • You are still an F-1 student!

Report to OIE:

  • Employer name and address
  • Name change
  • Residential address
  • Any changes in employment
  • Change of visa status
  • Back to school

Amelia’s Walk-In Hours

Monday afternoons: 1pm – 4pm

Thursday mornings: 9am – 12noon