International students on F-1 visa have the opportunity to engage in paid employment related to their major field of study. Such employment is called Optional Practical Training (OPT) and students are eligible for one year of full-time employment for each higher degree level achieved.
TYPES OF OPT
Most students are applying for Post-Completion OPT, and you may submit your request as early as 90 days before the end date of your program.
You must have attended LA TECH for at least 3 consecutive quarters.
You must have maintained your F-1 status.
You must NOT have previous OPT approved for the same degree level.
If you used 12 months of full-time CPT then you are not eligible for OPT.
Certificate program students at LA TECH are NOT eligible for OPT.
There are limited ways students can apply for pre-completion OPT during the summer and part time. To find out more, please contact the Office of International Affairs.
Note: Pre-Completion OPT will be deducted from the 12 months of Post-Completion OPT. Students who apply for pre-completion will not be eligible for the 17 month STEM extension.
You may apply for your OPT as early as 90 days before the completion date of your program. However, OPT must be requested PRIOR to expiration of your 60-day grace period. If you do not apply for OPT before the end of your grace period you will not be eligible for OPT.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must receive your OPT application by your 60-day grace period.
1. $410.00 personal check or bank / cashiers check made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security (NO MONEY ORDERS)
2. Your most recent I-20
3. I-94 Arrival/Departure Record card (www.cbp.gov/i94)
5. 2 U.S. passport photos style (Can be taken at True Value, Wal-Mart, Rite Aid or Walgreen’s pharmacy)
6. OPT Recommendation Form completed and signed by your Academic Advisor (see attached form)
7. Previous OPT card (if applicable)
NEW OPT RULE:
24 Month Extension: The current 12-month limit on OPT would be extended by 24 months for certain STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) degree holders ONLY if eligible. You can apply for this extension based on your previous STEM degree too (if you have not already done so)
Please consult http://www.uscis.gov/files/article/supplemental_opt_052308.pdf for detailed information regarding the new rules.
90 Days Unemployment: According to USCIS, the 90 days of unemployment will be looked at when a student is applying for a Change of Status from F1 (OPT) to H1B. Only “objective” evidence will be considered as proof of employment.
REPORTING REQUIREMENTS WHILE ON OPT:
All students (including those on an approved 24 month extension) are responsible for reporting and updating the following employer information to ISO:
Name of employer and location where you actually work
Name and contact of supervisor
Company EIN number
Your job title
Dates of employment (start and end date)
Part time or Full time
Any change to the name and address of the employer
Any interruption of such employment
Current address and phone number
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How do I pick my OPT Start Date?
Your start date may vary according to your individual timeline to job prospect. It may be no later than 60 days after your program end date. Please attend an OPT workshop for more details.
How will I know if my OPT application has been approved?
Two weeks after you apply, you will receive a Notice of Action from USCIS. Keep this letter; you will need it. Your Notice of Action will tell you to expect to wait about 90 days to receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The EAD is a small photo identification card that states the type and the period of employment authorized. The authorized work period on your EAD cannot be extended. When you receive this card, check to make certain all the information is correct. This is a crucial document: be sure you keep it in a safe place.
You can check the status of your case by going to the USCIS home page at www.uscis.gov and entering the number on your Receipt Notice (the Receipt Number begins with EAC or WAC) into “CHECK CASE STATUS”.
Can I begin working before I get the EAD?
No, you may not begin employment before you receive your EAD from USCIS, even if your requested start date has passed. Working before OPT has been authorized by the USCIS constitutes illegal employment and will jeopardize your legal status in the U.S. You may begin work only after receiving a temporary or original EAD card.
Can I travel abroad and re-enter the U.S. before I receive my EAD?
You are applying for pre-completion OPT and will continue as a full-time student at LA Tech or
You are applying for post-completion OPT and will re-enter the U.S. before the completion date of your program. To re-enter the U.S., you will still require a valid travel signature on your I-20 and a current valid F-1 visa.
No, if you have completed your studies but have not received your EAD card. If you leave the U.S. after your completion date (item #5 on your I-20) and before you receive your EAD, your OPT will be cancelled. USCIS will consider this an abandonment of your application and will not permit you to re-apply or re-enter.
Can I travel abroad while I am on OPT?
Yes, you may travel outside the U.S. while on OPT, provided below documents:
1. Valid F-1 visa
2. Valid passport
3. Valid EAD card
4. You have a job, offer of employment, or have documentation of your job search AND
5. ISO has signed page 3 of your I-20, permitting re-entry to the U.S.
Termination of OPT
Authorization for OPT is automatically terminated when you transfer to another school or begin study at another educational level. You cannot reapply for any lost time.
What if I move, will my EAD card be forwarded?
USCIS will not forward your EAD card to your new address; therefore, the ISO does not recommend you to change your address while your OPT application is pending. If it is beyond your control and you must move to a new address after your application has been submitted to USCIS, you will need to change your address in the following four locations to ensure that you receive your EAD card:
1. USCIS: You can change your address online at www.uscis.gov
2. United States Post Office: You can change your address online at www.usps.com (there will be a $1 charge) or change it manually by going to any post-office and completing an “OFFICIAL CHANGE OF ADDRESS FORM”
Immigration Status while on OPT
You are still an F-1 student status with LA Tech
If you move during OPT period, please update your address
Obtain appropriate travel authorization from the ISO