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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

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
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
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
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.
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

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.

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