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OPT Students - Immigration - Things to know!

Optional Practical Training is a process initiated by USCIS that allows international students on F-1 visa to perform services in the United States while or after completing of their degree for a period of 12 months.  There are various things that OPT students should know which they have to follow to maintain their immigration status. We in this blog are pointing out all the necessary rules that OPT students should follow strictly.

Important Information For OPT Students

After obtaining your OPT status, notice the issuing date on your Employment Authorization Document (EAD). If you didn’t receive your EAD within 75 days of applying for OPT, consider reaching out to USCIS and request to expedite the case. During the OPT status you will have act accordingly with respect to the 90 days unemployment provision which states that if you fail to secure a job within 90 days of the start of your OPT, you will be deported to your country of origin or request to change your immigration status.

Below are the necessary things to understand for OPT students:

  • While you are on OPT status, you have to make sure that each job you take is relevant with your field of study. If your job title doesn’t align your degree, then you will have to provide a letter from your superiors on a letterhead that clearly explains your project and how it is related to your degree.

  • While your school sessions are going on you'll have to work only 20 hours per week whereas post your completion of OPT you can work 40 hours per week.

  • Any changes with respect to your employment, unemployment or changes in work profile should be reported to your DSO within 10 days of the change.

  • Unemployment should not exceed more than 90 days.

Post completion completion of your OPT i.e. after the period of 12 months you may want to extend your OPT visa which from hereby would be called OPT STEM Extension.

STEM OPT Extension allows a potential student to extend their stay in United States by more 24 months which comes down to calculation stating that a potential student after obtaining OPT status can enjoy the status for as long as 36 months(3 Years). But following things should have been take care of to be able to extend the OPT further. They are -

  • Most obvious one is to have a valid Post Completion OPT and valid F1 status.

  • Should have graduated from the respective school in their chosen field of degree with Bachelors, Masters or a Ph.D.

  • You should have an active employment either 20hrs/week or 40hrs/week which pays you and the one that is directly related to your field of study.

  • The employer providing you the employment should be registered with the government's E-Verify employment verification program.

  • And lastly the most important one that has already been mentioned in this blog is that the consultant should not have been unemployed for more than 90 days during his/her post completion OPT period.

Once you successfully get your OPT extended then you will get an additional flexibility on being unemployed during this STEM OPT period which should not exceed more than 60 days.

To conclude about the unemployment clause, we would say that the total unemployment period during your complete OPT status which is 36 months should not exceed more than 60+90=150 days. If in case happens will result in an issue during your H1B filing which is very crucial for your continued stay in United States.

Now that we have helped you understand the important things pertaining to you OPT status, we wish you a good luck in find the right jobs to start a beautiful career.

To know the right process to find jobs quickly please read our blog ...

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