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OPT/ STEM OPT Extension Workshop

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Regina George

on 22 September 2017

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Transcript of OPT/ STEM OPT Extension Workshop

Presented by Regina George, Director and Kristi Clayton, Immigration Coordinator from the Office of Immigration and International Admissions
Optional Practical Training Workshop
Introduction
How To Apply
12 months of full-time OPT is available at each level (Bachelors, Masters, Ph.D.).
If you don't use it, you lose it!
If you accept 12 months (365 days) of full-time CPT, you void your OPT eligibility.
Part-time OPT will be deducted from the 12 month total at a rate of half. (Example: 10 months of part-time OPT ÷ 2 = 5 months. One would still be eligible for 7 months of full-time OPT to = 12 months)
Those in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields are eligible for an additional 24 months beyond the first 12 months of OPT. (Must apply for STEM extension!)
Time Limits
Make sure to look up the graduation date of your particular semester on the Academic Calendar at www.southalabama.edu/academiccalendar/index.html. If graduating in the middle of the semester (thesis/dissertation only), determine what your "graduation" date is with your department.
You must determine start and end dates, not OIIA. This must be listed when you turn in your application materials.
Please list an email address you check regularly on this form.
Check and re-check the document checklist to make sure you have all required documents BEFORE you turn in your application to OIIA.
OPT Student Application Form
MUST be filled out by your academic advisor or department chair!
If any discrepancies appear, you will be required to go back and get a revised form filled out and signed.
OPT Department Recommendation Form
Be a degree-seeking student in F-1 status.
Possess a valid passport.
Have one academic year (two semesters) of full-time study completed before the requested start date.
Have not used 12 months (365 days) or more of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT).
Pre-Completion vs. Post-Completion
Pre-Completion OPT is work authorization that will begin and end before the program end date listed on the student's I-20. While school is in session, a student may apply for part-time, pre-completion OPT while also enrolling in the required hours to be a full-time student. During part-time, pre-completion OPT you may work up to 20 hours per week in the field of study listed on the I-20. Full-time pre-completion OPT may be requested for breaks (i.e. summer) when the student is not required to enroll or when a student has completed all course requirements and only lacks completion of the thesis or dissertation.

REMEMBER: Pre-completion OPT will take time away from your full year of post-completion OPT!


Post-Completion OPT is work authorization that will begin after the program end date on the I-20.
Post-completion OPT must be full-time (at least 20 hours per week) in the field of study listed on the I-20. Students who have completed all course requirements except for the thesis or dissertation may apply for post-completion OPT although it may require the I-20 end date be shortened.

*Separate applications are required for each type of OPT, thus it is not possible to request a period of part-time, pre-completion OPT immediately followed by full-time, pre- or post-completion OPT in the same petition.
OPT Eligibility Requirements
Things to Remember:
Post-Completion OPT

Employment Start and End Dates
Undergraduates:
Start date - May begin as early as the date of graduation or as late as 60 days after graduation date.
Graduates:
Start date - May begin as early as the date requested after all course requirements are completed or as late as 60 days after Graduate School's final acceptance of thesis or dissertation.
For All:
The start date for the Employment Authorization Document (EAD), or OPT card, will be the date requested by student or date approved by USCIS - whichever is later.
End date - 12 months after the start date.
Filing Deadlines
Up to 90 days prior to degree completion date
No later than 60 days after degree completion date
Processing Time for OPT application
The official processing time for the USCIS is 60-90 days. The current processing time is 90 days. You will receive a receipt notice after the materials have arrived to the USCIS Service Center. You may then check the status of your case online at uscis.gov with your receipt number. You may NOT begin work until you have the OPT card in hand and NOT before the start date of the OPT card.
Types of appropriate work
Work MUST be related to student's degree program!
It may include the following:
Multiple employers
Short-term multiple employers (i.e. performing artists)
Work for hire (1099 employment)
Self-employed business owner
Employment through an agency or consulting firm
Paid employment (at least 20 hrs per week for post-completion OPT)
Unpaid employment (at least 20 hrs per week)
Unemployment Limit
Students on post-completion OPT are limited to 90 days of unemployment beginning the start date on the OPT card. Weekends and time spent out of the country count!
Miscellaneous Things to Keep in Mind
Cancellation of OPT - It is possible. However, you will not be refunded the $410 filing fee. Once the EAD has been processed by USCIS, you cannot cancel the OPT if the start date has already passed.
Travel during OPT - Re-entry to the U.S. requires that you present the following items at the port of entry: Endorsed (signed by DSO in OIE) OPT I-20, EAD card, valid F-1 visa, job offer letter from employer.
On campus employment - Once the student completes the degree or the EAD start date is reached, whichever is earlier, the employment is restricted to a student's area of study at a level commensurate to the degree earned. Once you graduate, all on-campus employment should cease until you have your OPT card in hand. You may continue work once you have your OPT card only if the job is not an assistantship or student worker related.
Post-Completion OPT Agreement
Read carefully and sign. Make sure to keep a copy of this form so that you can remember your responsibilities while on OPT.
Passport-style Photo Requirements
*Please do not wear a white shirt when you take your pictures.
Form I-765
Must be filled out in black ink!
For first-time applicants, check the "I am applying for permission to accept employment" box above #1.
List family name first, then first name, then middle (if you have one).
Leave address as OIIA's address (390 Alumni Circle Meisler Hall 2200 Mobile, AL 36688).
#10 will be your I-94 card or arrival page number.
#11 - If you've applied for employment authorization before (OPT/Economic Hardship), check "yes". You will then list what USCIS Service Center your application was sent to and the start and end dates of the EAD card. You will also list whether it was "Granted" or "Denied". If "Granted" you will need to attach a copy of your previous EAD card. If you have not applied for employment authorization, check "no" and skip to #12.
#12 will be the date of last entry to the U.S. (listed on I-94 arrival page).
#13 will be the last city in which you entered the U.S. (listed on passport stamp).
#14 and #15 should be "student" if you entered and are currently in F-1 status.
#16 will be (c) (3) (b).
Sign, list telephone number, and date.
Checklist of Items for Application
The following items must be turned in to OIIA at the time of OPT application:
Completed Student Application Form
Completed Department Recommendation Form
Post-completion OPT Agreement Form
Completed I-765 form
Completed G-1145 form (to receive receipt notice by text and email)
Photocopy of valid passport info page, F-1 visa page, and I-94 arrival page
Copies of all I-20s (1st and 2nd pages only) issued for current degree program
Unofficial transcript of all coursework at South Alabama
Two passport-style photos
Check or money order for $410 made payable to Department of Homeland Security
*Once all materials are turned into OIIA, a new I-20 will be created within 2-3 business days. You must sign the new I-20 before it can be sent to USCIS. The OPT application packet MUST be sent to USCIS within 30 days of creation of new I-20.
STEM OPT Eligibility
Reporting Responsibilities
All students approved for OPT must report the following to OIIA:
Any change in name (passport or official documentation needed)
Residential address changes
Name and address of employer
Dates of employment
Any change to name and/or address of employer
Any interruption of employment
Eligibility
F-1 students in post-completion OPT who have earned a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) field may apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion OPT period.

Requirements:
Be in a period of post-completion OPT status.
Current OPT must be based on a degree in one of the STEM designated fields. A list of DHS STEM approved degree programs can be found at www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Document/2016/stem-list.pdf.
STEM Extension may be based on a previously obtained degree. Previous degree must be from an accredited, U.S. - based institution, and the degree must have been earned within the past 10 years.
Possess a valid passport.
Work at least 20 hours per week for an employer who is registered in the E-Verify program in a job related to the student's field of study.
Employer must agree to reporting requirements.
Student must complete a Form I-983 Training Plan with their employer and submit with STEM OPT Extension application
Things To Remember
Filing Deadline - May be submitted 120 days prior to the end date of current OPT card. MUST be received by USCIS prior to the current card end date.
Authorization will begin the day after the end date of the current OPT and expire 24 months later.
Those students who have an extension petition filed with USCIS before the end date of their current STEM OPT may continue to work up to 180 days beyond the expiration of the current OPT while the petition is awaiting a decision.
Unemployment limit - An additional 60 days of unemployment may be taken plus the original 90 days for a total of 150 days. Again, weekends and days spent outside the U.S. count towards unemployment.
Cancellation - same as initial OPT.
Travel - same as initial OPT.
Student Reporting Responsibilities
Students have two different timelines to remember:
1. Changes to the following must be reported within 10 days of occurence:
Any change in name (passport copy or official document required)
Residential address
Name and address of employer
Dates of employment
Any change to the name and/or address of employer
Any interruption of employment
2. Every 6 months (counted from start of STEM OPT), the student MUST report the name and address of their employer. This is required even if there hasn't been any change to the data last reported.
3. 12-Month and 24-Month Evaluations: The student must also complete and submit a self-evaluation using the I-983, signed by the employer and submitted to the Office of Immigration International Admissions at months 12 and 24 of the STEM Employment Period.
4. A new Form I-983 each time you have a change in employer!
Required Documents for Application
Completed STEM OPT Extension Student Application Form and STEM OPT Agreement Form
Completed I-765, in black ink
Completed Form G-1145 (to receive receipt notice by text and email)
Completed Form I-983
Copy of diploma or transcript showing continuous enrollment towards completion of degree.
Job offer letter (MUST list E-Verify number)
Copy of current EAD card
Photocopies of passport information page, most recent F-1 visa page, and I-94 card (front and back) or I-94 arrival page
Two passport-style photos
Check or money order for $410 made payable to Department of Homeland Security
Form I-765
Must be filled out in black ink!
For STEM extension, check "renewal of my permission to accept employment" box above #1.
List family name first, then first name, then middle (if you have one).
You can choose to leave address as OIIA's address (390 Alumni Circle Meisler Hall 2200 Mobile, AL 36688) or your current address. If you do not live in AL, this may change which USCIS Service Center you send your petition. Ask OIIA for more information.
#10 will be your I-94 card or arrival page.
#11 - You will check "yes". You will then list what USCIS Service Center your application was applied to (should be Dallas) and the start and end dates of the EAD card. You will also that it was "Granted". You will need to attach a copy of your previous EAD card.
#12 will be the date of last entry to the U.S. (listed on I-94 arrival page).
#13 will be the last city in which you entered the U.S. (listed on the passport stamp).
#14 and #15 should be "student" if you entered and are currently in F-1 status.
#16 will be (c) (3) (c).
#17 - List correct degree level, employer's name, and E-Verify # in the blanks
Sign, list telephone number, and date.
Forms
1. STEM Extension OPT Student Application Form - All information must be filled out by applicant before packet is received at OIIA. Email MUST be an email that is not your South Alabama email address and that you check regularly.

2. STEM OPT Agreement - Must be signed by applicant.

3. Employer Data

4. Form I-983 completed by applicant and employer.
The following items must be turned in to OIIA at the time of OPT application:
Grace Period
A 60-day grace period will begin at the end date of the EAD card. During this grace period, you may change status, transfer to another school, begin a new degree program, or prepare to exit the U.S.
Grace Period
A 60-day grace period will begin at the end date of the EAD card. During this grace period, you may change status, transfer to another school, begin a new degree program, or prepare to exit the U.S.
Questions?
Employer Responsibilities
1. Employer must be enrolled in the E-Verify program.
2. Employer must complete a Form I-983 Training Plan with the student.
Explain how training is related to the field of study
State training goals and means of supervision/evaluation
State duties, hours, compensation, and verify that the compensation is commensurate with similarly employed U.S. workers
Sign off on a self-evaluation by the student at two times (12th month and 24th month/end of program)
 Any substantial change in employment duties will require and updated I-983
3. Employers must agree to notify the Designated School Official using immigration@southalabama.edu if the employee is terminated or departs from employment prior to the end date on the STEM OPT Extension EAD within 48 hours of the occurrence.

Contact Regina George,
Director of Immigration and International Admissions,
at reginageorge@southalabama.edu
or
Kristi Clayton, Immigration Coordinator, at kristiclayton@southalabama.edu
Advising Hours:
M/W 2:00 - 4:00pm
T/Th 9:00am - 12:00pm
Full transcript