- 1 WHAT IS OPT?
- 1.1 WHO ARE ELIGIBLE FOR APPLYING OPT?
- 1.2 WHEN SHOULD WE APPLY FOR AN OPT?
- 1.3 OPT DURATION PERIOD
- 1.4 DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR APPLYING OPT
- 1.5 OPT APPLICATION PROCESS
- 1.6 OPT STEM EXTENSION
WHAT IS OPT?
OPT stands for OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING it is simply defined as a temporary employment authorization in your field of study at United states. In other words, Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a period during which undergraduate and graduate students who have completed or pursuing their degrees with F-1 status for more than nine months are allowed to work in the USA for getting practical training knowledge to complement their field of studies.
In the term OPT, each letter has its own significance. Let us discuss in detail about f-1 OPT. Here, optional means it’s not mandatory, practical means OPT should be related to the degree you earned from the university/school, training means it should help you in deep understanding and expanding your knowledge in the particular field. Students who are in OPT have a chance to apply for H1B work visa and have the highest priority than the regular H1B applicants. Here, the main important thing is that the Students who apply for OPT F1 needs to get approval from USCIS (U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services) in order to obtain the F1 optional practical training.
WHO ARE ELIGIBLE FOR APPLYING OPT?
Till now, we have discussed what is meant by opt? Now, Let us have a deep glance over the eligibility requirements for applying optional practical training (opt). students can apply for the f-1 opt jobs if they satisfy the following requirements.
- Students who are in lawful F-1 visa status for at least one academic year are eligible to apply for f1 opt extension.
- Graduates who have completed or pursuing their degree can apply for the opt training.
- Students whose OPT employment is directly related to their course of study are applicable for applying the optional practical training.
WHEN SHOULD WE APPLY FOR AN OPT?
Students may submit the opt training request 4 months (120 days) before the graduation date. However, we will NOT receive OPT I-20 earlier than 90 days before graduation date. We have to fill the following important applications while applying for opt.
- I-765 application for employment authorization of OPT and F1 OPT STEM extension application. The current cost of this application is $380 and it will be changing to $410 on and after 12/23/2016.
- I-539 application to extend or to change the nonimmigrant status. The current cost of this application is $290 current and it will be changing to $370 on and after 12/23/2016.
OPT DURATION PERIOD
Generally, OPT is valid for 12 months from the start date. After the 12 months period, students have a chance to apply for OPT extension if they successfully meet the f1 OPT STEM EXTENSION requirements. Hence, OPT extension is valid for 24 months. So, all together OPT is valid for 36 months(12+24).
OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING START DATE
Now, you may get doubt about the start date and end date of post-completion optional practical training. So, Let us discuss the rules and regulations of opt starting date. Generally, opt international students with f1 visa can start their post-completion opt after the completion after their master’s degree.
- Opt can start on any date within 60days of graduation date.
- But, opt application must reach USCIS not earlier than 90 days before and no later than 60 days after your graduation.
OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING END DATE
- The OPT end date can’t be more than 14 months from the program end date.
- After 12 months of the completion of OPT, there is a chance to get OPT extended for another 24 months if we meet all the requirements of f1 opt stem extension.
Till now, you have gone through the basic details regarding OPT and the rules and regulations for applying F1 opt. Now, Let us go in deep about the details of stem opt extension and opt jobs.
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR APPLYING OPT
Here, is the list of documents required for applying f1 OPT. So, before applying for opt f1 make sure you have check listed all the documents.
OPT Required Documents
- Form G-1145 (optional).
- I-765 Form.
- Form I-94 (latest do not include travel history page).
- Visa page copy (with US arrival stamps).
- Passport ID page copies.
- Copies of previous I-20s (displaying your current SEVIS number).
- Check/money order for $380 (do NOT sign on back).
- Passport-size photos (2 identical photos).
- Unofficial transcript.
- Change of status documents (only if applies to you).
OPT APPLICATION PROCESS
Here, I have explained step by step procedure for applying opt. The first step of applying f1 opt is OPT request form.
OPT Request Form
First, choose the dates of OPT authorization, fill the expected graduation date and obtain the signature from the academic college advisor or department advisor. Academic history (transcripts) of your degree must be attached to the OPT request form. This OPT request form and transcripts are not needed to mail to USCIS.
I-765 is a USCIS form and it must be submitted along with OPT application and it can be downloaded from the following link. While filling out the i-765 form, make sure that you have downloaded the latest version before applying. Download the I-765 Form.
The next step is to submit all the following documents to the International Student Services(ISS). It includes
- Personal check or money order of $380 payable to “U.S Department of Homeland Security”.
- 2 Official US passport photos (photo must meet the specifications of the US style passport photo).
- Print the latest I-94, most recent visa copy.
- Copies of passport biography page and copies of all previous I-20s.
submit these listed documents to the concerned International Student Services (ISS) or International Student Organization (ISO) and receive an OPT I-20. Make sure to check the new OPT for accuracy including the program end date.
This the final step in the process of OPT. Put your sign on the OPT I-20 along with the date and send it along with OPT check-list to USICS mailing address. Then you can check your opt status from the official website and it will be couriered to your address which you have mentioned in the application form.
OPT STEM EXTENSION
The stem OPT participant is the student on F-1 visa status who completes the degree at US accredited institution of higher education. Students who participate in a full duration of 12 month OPT period can request for an additional work authorization for 24 months which is known as OPT stem extension status. After the completion of 12 months of F-1 OPT, students has the facility to extend their F1 opt status. Stem OPT Extension is 24 months long and it is allowed 2 times for different degree levels like bachelors and masters. Students are needed to complete an I-983 form which reflects the training plan of STEM OPT students. Both the student and employer must coordinate with one another to fill out this form. The I-983 form can be downloaded and can be directly filled by employer and employee.
STEM OPT EXTENSION ELIGIBILITY
- Applicants for stem extension must be qualified with a valid STEM degree.
- Students are required to work with the employer during the period of post-competition OPT.
- Applicants must have a minimum bachelor’s degree and that respective degree must be from an SEVP-certified school that is accredited.
- The employer should be E-verified and should agree all the terms listed in Form-I-983 while filling out the form.
- Employment should be Full-time at least 21 or more hours/week and can be paid/unpaid.
OPT STEM EXTENSION INSTRUCTIONS
Students who are applying for an F1 OPT STEM extension are advised to submit a completed I-983 and the OPT STEM extension application as soon as possible to begin processing your new I-20. USCIS will accept applications up to 90 days before your 12-month OPT expires. Please notice that you will be authorised to continue working for up to 180 days after your 12 month OPT has expired, and while your STEM extension request is pending with USCIS.
OPT EXTENSION REQUIRED DOCUMENTS
Here, is the list of documents required for stem extension opt. Please checklist the documents before applying for stem extension.
- ISS/ISO (international student services/organization) STEM OPT extension I-20 request form.
- I-983 training plan.
- I-765 form with employer’s E-Verify number printed on top.
- Transcripts copies.
- New-OPT I-20 (received after 1st step by submitting required documents to the concerned accredited university/school) endorsed and signed.
- Copies of current EAD card (FRONT AND BACK).
- 2 passport photos of US.
- Check/money order for $380 payable to “U.S Department of Homeland Security”.
- G-1145 form (optional) which signs up for text and email notifications for applications to reach USCIS.