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Online OPT Seminar

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Mike Waldie

on 4 February 2015

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Transcript of Online OPT Seminar


As a student you receive training in
the classroom.
During approved OPT you can also get training on the job.
All of this is training in your field of study
Since OPT is "training" it can be . . .
paid employment
unpaid/volunteer work
part-time or hourly work
or a combination of any of these
*All OPT activities must be directly related to your degree.
*You must participate for a minimum of 20 hours per week.
*OPT is work authorization for up to one year.
*A 17 month extension is available for students who have a qualifying degree in a STEM field . . . more on that in a moment.
and is part of your overall education.
Who is eligible for OPT?
current F-1 students in valid status for one academic year
who apply in a timely manner
have a valid passport, I-94, and I-20
submit the required application materials and fee
and have "completed" an academic degree program*
For use while still active in your program
Limited to 20 hours per week during the semester
CPT is a possible alternative
*Program COMPLETION Date
F-1 Status
You are still in F-1 status during OPT.
Therefore you must have a valid F-1 visa if you wish to travel internationally and return to the US.
An F-1 visa interview while on OPT can be RISKY!
There is no guarantee the US embassy in your country will grant a new F-1 visa during OPT. Please be sure to contact the appropriate embassy directly BEFORE any international travel if you need to apply for a visa.
While on Approved OPT
With Pending OPT
You must travel with:
You must travel with:
EAD Card
Employment Letter
I-20 with OPT Travel Signature
Valid Passport
Valid F-1 Visa
OPT Receipt Notice
I-20 with Travel Signature
Valid Passport
Valid F-1 Visa
*if OPT is approved while you are out of the country:
you will still need the EAD and employment letter for reentry.
*international travel MAY be possible while on OPT
3 Types of OPT
1. Pre-completion OPT
2. Standard
Post-completion OPT
3. 17 Month Extension
Used for employment BEFORE your academic program is completed.
It must end on or before your current academic program completion.
You must apply for post-completion OPT if employment will continue beyond the end of your academic program.
During the spring and fall semesters students are limited to 20 hours of employment per week (full-time employment is only allowed in summer).
You must maintain full-time enrollment each semester.
No unemployment is tracked.
Your I-20 can still be extended to complete your academic program.
Pre-Completion OPT time is subtracted from your one year of total OPT eligibility. If you use 365 days of Pre-Completion OPT you will not have any time left for Post-Completion OPT once you finish your academic program.
*CPT is a possible alternative to Pre-Completion OPT. Please visit the ISS website for more information on CPT.

Your I-20 will be shortened to the actual end date of your academic program.
OPT is work authorization given for up to 12 months.
All training activities MUST relate directly to your degree.
You must participate in training for a minimum of 20 hours per week (there is no upper limit).
OPT is available once for each successive academic degree level.
OPT can be divided between programs on the same academic level (for example: 6 months for one master's program and another 6 months for a second master's program immediately following the first).
No I-20 extensions are possible after beginning OPT.
*If you do not apply for OPT or use the approved OPT you lose it!
The extension is only available to students with qualifying STEM degrees (MOST but not all Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics degrees). You can check the ISS website for a list of these government approved degrees.
It requires a second application and fee.
You must document the completion of your degree with a final transcript or official university diploma.
You must have a job or a job offer from an employer who is part of the E-verify system. USCIS now has a list of participating employers on their website.
Students may change employers, but all employers must participate in E-verify.
You must apply before your standard OPT expires.
You may apply up to 120 days before it expires, and you may continue working as long as the extension application is pending (up to 180 days past the expiration of your original OPT).
*Only one OPT extension is allowed during an F-1 academic career.
Applying for OPT in a timely manner extends your F-1 status while the application is being processed.
Once OPT is approved your F-1 status is extended for the OPT period, provided you continue to maintain status.
Maintaining F-1 Status During OPT
1. You must have a job (or a training opportunity as listed before) that is directly related to your degree.
determine your completion date
academic advisor form
student check-list
I-765 application form
$380 check to Homeland Security
2 passport photos with name and I-94 number on back
valid passport
valid I-94
any previous EAD card and the I-20 from that application
any other relevant immigration documents such as change of status approval
schedule an appointment with an F-1 advisor
Application Materials
The end of your academic program is the last day of finals in your last semester.
Completion of your academic program can be ONE of 3 Dates:
1. The date you complete all of the required coursework for your degree OR
2. The last day of your graduate assistantship OR
3. The day you submit your final paper (thesis or dissertation or project) with the graduate school
Processing Time
It can take up to 3 months (90 days) for Homeland Security to process your OPT application.
You cannot begin working until your OPT is approved and your EAD card is returned with an approved start date printed on the card.
You will not know the approved date until the EAD card arrives.
During the 12 months of standard OPT you are eligible to be unemployed a maximum of 90 days.
Every day without a job reported to SEVIS counts as unemployment.
Working less than 20 hours a week also counts as unemployment.
The 90 days are cumulative for the entire 12 month period; they all add up.
On the 91st day of unemployment you are out of status.
Approved OPT extension applicants receive an additional 30 days of unemployment.
Any unemployment days you did not use from the original OPT carry over into the extension period as well.
You must complete all coursework before starting OPT.
You must complete all graduate assistantship work before starting OPT.
HOWEVER, you may deposit your final paper (thesis or dissertation or equivalent ) AFTER OPT begins.
*You cannot have used 365 days of full-time CPT or your OPT eligibility will be cancelled.
Driver's License
On OPT your SEVIS record will still be connected to the U of A, and only the AR driver's license office may be able to confirm your status.
If you move to another state they may OR may not be able to confirm your status and issue you a driver's license.
Be sure you have applied for an AR driver's license BEFORE you move out of state.
If you or your dependents have trouble obtaining or renewing an Arkansas driver's license please contact the ISS Office for assistance.
Health Insurance
Some employers may not provide health benefits to employees on OPT.
You are still eligible to purchase student health insurance while on OPT and during the 17 month extension.
Please contact the Pat Walker Health Center for more information on policies and prices.
Since you will continue to be in F-1 status, your SEVIS record will remain active, and we must continue to report to SEVIS about you.
Any change to your personal, living, or employment information must be reported to ISS within 10 days.
Until you report a job SEVIS will continue to count OPT days as unemployment.
*reporting can be done on the ISS Office website using the REPORT OPT online form
*the first step in applying for OPT is to determine when you will complete your academic program.
2. You must participate in OPT employment or training for a minimum of 20 hours per week. There is no maximum number of hours you can work.
3. You must report all changes to personal, living, and employment information to the ISS Office.
Grace Period
If you successfully maintain F-1 status throughout OPT you are entitled to a 60 day grace period following completion.
During the Grace Period you can still receive a new U of A I-20 to begin a new academic program (in the next available academic term within 5 months).
You may also transfer to a new SEVP approved school which will require a transfer of your SEVIS record.
Any remaining OPT time will be cancelled if a new I-20 is issued or your SEVIS record is transferred.
You may also depart the United States.
*It is up to you determine if the training is related to your degree. The ISS Office does not decide if your training is related to your degree. You need to feel comfortable you could justify the work you are doing is directly related to your degree if you are ever questioned by an immigration officer.
EAD: Employment Authorization Document
When your OPT is approved you will be issued an EAD card.
it can an also be referred to as an "OPT Card"
it looks like a driver's license
it lists the dates you are authorized to work
Homeland Security may change your requested start date
you will only know the approved start date once the card arrives
it is also required for international travel (along with valid passport, valid F-1 visa, signed I-20, and employment letter)
*once you choose an OPT start date and we mail your application, you cannot change the requested start date.
You must be an active student and have an active I-20 to work on campus.
Your I-20 will be shortened to the end date of your program when you apply for OPT.
After your I-20 expires you cannot work on campus until the approved start date of your OPT.
After you have submitted your thesis/dissertation to the graduate school you cannot work on campus unless you have a graduate assistantship as part of your overall academic program, and you must still have an active I-20.
After your I-20 expires you cannot work on campus until the approved start date of OPT.
*your UARK email will be extended for your OPT period
please remember to contact us only through your UARK account
OPT is a benefit of your F-1 status
if you are in valid status
apply in a timely manner
submit all the required documents
you should be granted OPT
OPT is NOT a status
OPT is work authorization attached to your F-1 status
Reports can be made through the ISS Office website ( http://iss.uark.edu ) by using the REPORT OPT form on the left side of the page.
REPORT OPT is an online form to make reporting and updates as easy as possible.
Once your reported information has been updated in the SEVIS system, you will receive a confirmation email from ISS.
Please keep these confirmations for your records.
Check box number one if you are applying for OPT for the first time OR
Check box number three if you are applying for OPT again, or if you have have had an EAD card before.
There are always different levels of risk involved when you travel internationally.
Travel during approved OPT may be possible with the required documentation; however, there is always some level of risk.
* if you move out of Fayetteville you will still need to mail your I-20 to the ISS Office for a new travel signature before any international travel.
*if you decide to stop OPT and depart the US OR if you depart the US after OPT completes you need to submit a Departure Notice to the ISS Office. It is available on our website at: http://iss.uark.edu/Departure_Notice.pdf
Please consult with an F-1 advisor for questions regarding the possible transition from F-1 to H-1B and the use of Cap Gap. Keep in mind that ISS cannot answer specific questions regarding a possible H-1B petition. These questions should be referred directly to the employer or immigration attorney who will be filing the petition.
Please visit the ISS website for more information and all application materials for OPT.
The ADDRESS is the ISS Office address.
Your OPT Receipt and EAD card will be mailed to our office, and we will contact you when they arrive.
Write your FAMILY NAME first in all capital letters.
Write your GIVEN NAME next and your MIDDLE NAME last (if applicable).
If you checked "yes" on Number 11 then fill in the name of the service center, date, and approval status of your previous EAD (this applies if you are filing for a STEM extension).
If you checked "no" on Number 11 you skip these two lines.
Fill in your I-94 number.
This is the eleven digit number located in the upper righthand corner of your I-94 card.
Number 17 is only for extension applications. Do NOT fill out for standard post-completion OPT.
For extension applications ONLY fill in the degree name, employer's e-verify name, and employer's e-verify number.
Enter your status at the time of your last entry into the US (exampe: STUDENT).
Enter your current immigration status (example: STUDENT).
These two may be different if you changed status while in the US (exampe: F2 to F1).
Enter the code for the type of OPT you are applying for:
Pre-Completion OPT: (C) (3) (A)
Post-Completion OPT: (C) (3) (B)
17 Month Extension: (C) (3) (C)
Enter the date of your last entry into the US as printed on your I-94.
Enter the location of your last entry into the US as printed on your I-94.
If you have applied for an EAD card in the past check "Yes."
If you have never applied for OPT or an EAD card in the past check "No."
Fill in the required information on citizenship, birth, gender, and marital status.
Include your Social Security Number if you have one.
Sign your name BETWEEN the lines and fill in your phone number and the date; do not let your signature touch either of the black lines. If you do not sign BETWEEN the lines your application will be returned.
*application materials are available on the ISS website: iss.uark.edu.
the check must be a permanent check with your address printed at the top
OR a cashier's check from the bank
OR a money order from the post office
it must be made out to "Department of Homeland Security"
the amount in the first blank should be filled in as "$380.00"
it should be written on the next line exactly as "three hundred eighty and 00/100"
*don't forget . . .
*for standard post-completion OPT you must "complete" your academic program before beginning employment; however, for pre-completion OPT you may begin working before completion of your academic program with some restrictions - more on this in a moment.
STEP ONE: Determine your academic "completion date."
STEP TWO: Determine when you can begin applying for OPT (you can begin the application process up to 90 days BEFORE your academic "completion date").
STEP THREE: Determine when you would like to request your OPT authorization to begin (you can choose from any of the 60 days following your academic "completion date").
Calculate your OPT Timeline
*This timeline can be different for undergraduate and graduate students, and the dates will change depending on the year and term you "complete" your academic program. The following timelines are only examples. Your OPT Timeline may vary.
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