OPT Video Seminar - Southern Illinois University | Center for

– Optional Practical Training is a 12 month
optional opportunity for F-1 students to gain
practical experience directly related to their field
of study
– 12 months of OPT is offered per higher degree
level completion
– Unlike CPT, an application packet must be
prepared and sent to USCIS for approval
– There are two types of OPT: Pre- Completion
and Post- Completion
Pre- Completion OPT
Post- Completion OPT
• Used before program
completion and is
typically part -time
• If part- time deducted at
a rate of 50%
• Only used after program
of study is completed
• Full -time only
Pre- Completion OPT
• Advantages
• May work full- time (restrictions
• Does not have an unemployment
• Possible program extension
• Disadvantages
• May not apply for the STEM
Extension for a period of precompletion OPT
• Would NOT be eligible for CapGap Extension of OPT
Post- Completion OPT
Always may work full- time
Eligible for Cap- Gap Extension
May Apply for the 17th month
STEM Extension if in STEM field
• Disadvantages
• Subject to unemployment limit
• Not able to receive a program
• Must have completed one full academic year,
maintained full time status throughout program,
and be in valid F-1 status and looking for a job
directly related to your academic program
• Must not have completed 12 months of full time
• Must not have completed a previous OPT at the
same degree level.
• Must apply within 60 days of completing your
program, but no earlier than 90 days of your
program end date
• Standard Post-Completion OPT, F-1
students must NOT accrue more than 90
days of unemployment after their start date
• Employment does NOT have to be paid, but
must be at least 20 hours per week to be
considered valid
For every employment opportunity during your OPT you must:
• Work at least 20 hours a week
• Be in a job that is DIRECTLY related to your degree program.
• Inform CIE of any changes while on your OPT including employment
and personal information updates using the OPT Update Form OPT/
STEM Update Form
• Keep accurate records of all employment in preparation for DHS
- Including: Letters from all employers stating job title, duration, job
duties and relevance to degree, and employer location
- Paystubs or bank statements showing payments from employer
when applicable
Degree Completion: Refers to the day you
complete all your degree requirements, Not the
Graduation Ceremony
- Doctoral/ thesis students: This could be
your dissertation/ thesis submission date
- Latest date possible is the last date of the
semester for most students
- Note: You may NOT work on-campus after
degree- completion while your OPT is in
- Employment directly related to major of
study: USCIS “recommends” you maintain
all employment proof to show how it
pertains your coursework and the employer
• 90 Days prior to Program End Date OPT applications may be
submitted but must NOT have a start date later than 60 days
after the program completion end date
• Normal processing time is 2 ½ to 3 months once submitted so
plan early
• Standard 12 months of OPT if granted but again must not
accrue 90 days on unemployment once your start date begins
• For STEM eligible students, you may apply up to 120 days
prior to your 12 month OPT end date but no later than 30 days
prior to the OPT end date
• Those who participate in OPT AND STEM may NOT accrue
more than 120 Days of unemployment
• You can apply up to 90 days prior to your completion day but start date must be NO
later than 60 days after completion
• For regular 12 month OPT you will need:
• OPT Application Packet with all forms completed prior to your appointment
• Note Adviser recommendation form must be filled out by your advisor or
department chair
• 380.00 check or money order made out to U.S. Department of Homeland Security
• Two Passport Style Photos (brand new and recent)
• Copy of I-94 front and back
• Copy of Passport I.D. pages including expiration date
• Copy of Visa
• All previous I-20s Note: It is important and recommended to keep ALL your I20s
together from your immigration history with the most recent on top
• Schedule an appointment with an adviser by contacting our front desk
• Once your application is
received a receipt will be
sent to our office with a
number for you to keep
track of your OPT request
Once, your request has been approved your card will be mailed to us and we
will forward it to you. Make sure to keep your address updated!
• Know when you want your OPT to begin
-It is imperative you have a clear idea of when you want your start to be
so you can apply early enough (remember it can take up to 3 months)
and be aware that changing the date once submitted is not very feasible
• Cancellation of OPT :
- Must be submitted prior to the approval and issuance of your EAD card
- Be aware there will be no refund if you cancel
• You can change employers during OPT but again KEEP RECORDS
• Eligibility Requirements:
• Must Be in Standard Post- Completion OPT
• Must have currently completed a degree in an Approved
STEM Field
• List of STEM Eligible Fields (If you are unsure if
your major falls under the extensions contact us
• Must have a E-Verify employer
• Must have a paid employment at least 20 hours a week
• Must not accrue more than 120 days of unemployment
including unemployed days during initial 12 month OPT
• You are able to change employers but EACH
employer MUST be E-Verified
• Cannot travel while STEM Extension is pending
• Requires an online validation report every 6 months
• Note: You are required to report any changes to CIE
within ten days regardless if on an OPT or STEM
Go online and complete the 17 month Stem Packet
STEM Application Packet
Send it to CIE for review and issuance of new I-20
Mail to USCIS for approval
Note again: You may submit the packet up to 120 days prior to your current
OPT end date but no more than 30 days from your OPT completion
For your STEM packet you will need:
Two new passport photos
380 dollar check or money order made out to U.S. Department of Homeland
Copy of Passport, Visa, I-94 (front and back) , EAD Card (front and back)
Letters from previous employers and paystubs or bank statements showing
paid employment
Diploma or Academic Transcripts (if applicable)
“Recommended Travel”
-Before the expiration of your I-20
-After I-20 expiration with receipt notice (proceed with caution)
-With OPT Approval and EAD card along with a letter from your employer
Note: While on your OPT and 17 month extension, you are on F-1 visa status and
require a signature from our office, a valid visa and passport
- The period between your I-2O expiration and before your OPT Receipt Notice
- Anytime you do not have an employer
- While your case is pending with USCIS
• You are still an F-1 student while on OPT
• Hence you MUST:
• Notify our office of any address, contact or employer
information by completing the OPT Update Form
within ten days of information changing
• OPT/ STEM Update Form
• Have your I-20 signed by us before traveling outside
the US
• Note: 17 month extension are required to complete
the OPT Update form every 6 month to maintain
status even if an H-1B is in process
Within 60 days after completing your OPT you have three
Depart the U.S.
Apply for a change of status within the U.S.
Transfer to another institution to begin a new program or
begin another F-1 program at SIU
Note: You cannot work during the grace period
• Eligible students from post- completion OPT may receive a CapGap extension to give them duration of status if their OPT ends
before Oct 1 and the H-1B is filed in a timely matter. The Cap Gap will remain in effect till a denial, or approval is made
• Note: CIE can only advise F-1 students including Cap- Gap
• If you require more information on matters pertaining to your H1B you must consult with your employer or an immigration
• For more information on the process and issuance of your CapGap I-20 request, please check out the link below:
• Cap- Gap Information
• For any F-2 dependents you must make sure to request an I-20
for them when applying and after being approved for any of
your employment
• Be aware that F-2 dependents are not allowed to work on or off
campus under any circumstances!
• May also not enroll in a full course of study unless a change of
status has been submitted and approved by USCIS
• Office Hours: Monday- Friday 8:00 a.m.–12:00 p.m.
and 1:00 p.m.to 4:30 p.m.
• Email us: [email protected]
• Call us: Telephone: (618) 453-5774
• We are always happy to help!

similar documents