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Optional Practical Training (OPT)

What is Optional Practical Training?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a temporary work authorization that must be directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study.

Eligible students can apply to receive up to 12 months of part-time OPT employment authorization before completing their academic studies (pre-completion) and/or after completing their academic studies (post-completion). Students studying within certain fields in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math(STEM), may be eligible for a 24-month STEM OPT extension.

LIST OF STEM OPT ELIGIBLE DEGREES

All periods of pre-completion OPT will be deducted from the available period of post-completion OPT. Students cannot begin work on OPT until they receive approval in the form of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and meet the dates authorized on their EAD.

Note: These directions are meant to help you in completing your application but should not be considered legal advice. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) ultimately provides the decision on your OPT application. It is your responsibility as the OPT applicant, to ensure that your OPT application is accurate and complete before you submit it to the U.S. government. Incomplete applications could result in a delay in processing time or denial. New York Tech in no event shall be held liable for any delay, denial, or mistake on your OPT application.

OPT Eligibility

To be eligible for OPT, you must be a degree-seeking F-1 student who is:

  • Enrolled full-time for one full academic year (an academic year consists of consecutive fall and spring semester enrollment).
  • Maintaining valid F-1 status.
  • In good academic standing.
  • Physically present in the U.S.
  • Intending to pursue a practical training or employment opportunity directly related to their major field of study.
  • Not authorized for 365+ days of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) at the same degree level.
  • Not authorized for OPT at the same degree level.
  • Graduating in the semester that they are applying.

OPT Duration

You can engage in OPT for a maximum of 12 months for each degree level you complete.

Students on post-completion OPT must report their job information within 10 days of starting a job. If you don't report your employment or find a job within 90 days from the start date on your EAD card, your OPT and F-1 record will be automatically completed.

Processing Time

It can take up to around 3-6 months to get approved for OPT. In most cases, you will receive your EAD card in 3-4 months. Expect further delays due to COVID-19, although USCIS is committed to processing petitions as soon as possible.

Workshops

OPT Workshops are held in March, June, and October for students looking to graduate. Information regarding these workshops will be announced ahead of time.

OPT FORMS AND CHECKLISTS

STEM OPT (24-month extension)

STEM OPT is an employment benefit for F-1 students who have completed their degrees in a STEM field. S.T.E.M. stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. This benefit is available for up to 24 months directly following an F-1 student’s OPT end date.

STEM OPT Eligibility

To be eligible for STEM OPT, you must be an F-1 student who is:

  • Employed on OPT at time of OPT STEM application.
  • Have graduated in a STEM field.
  • Work for an E-verified employer.
  • Work directly within your field of study.
  • If you completed a STEM major as a bachelor’s and are currently in a non STEM graduate major, you may apply for STEM-based on your prior degree.
LIST OF STEM OPT ELIGIBLE DEGREES

STEM OPT Duration

You engage in STEM Optional Practical Training for a maximum of 24 months of OPT.

Students on STEM extension must submit validation reports every six months to maintain their status and self-evaluation reports on the Form I-983 form at 12 months and 24 months.

Processing Time

It can take up to around 3-6 months to get approved for OPT. In most cases, you will receive your EAD card in 3-4 months. Expect further delays due to COVID-19, although USCIS is committed to processing petitions as soon as possible.

If you have already submitted your application to USCIS, you will be permitted to continue working for up to 180 days after your current OPT has expired as long as you have received your application receipt, known as Form I-797C.

STEM OPT FORMS AND CHECKLISTS

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