Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a work benefit allowed to international students in F-1 immigration status who are enrolled in or completing a degree in the U.S. This employment can be used before the completion of studies, during the annual vacation or leave term, or after the student finishes the degree.
Types of Optional Practical Training:
Pre-completion (before completing your program)
Post-completion (after completing degree requirements)
OPT "STEM" extension available to Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math students hired by an employer registered with the government's "E-Verify"
Whatever the scenario, each student must carefully plan when to participate in OPT because it is limited to only one year (12 months).
F-1 students who have been enrolled in legal status for a minimum of nine months are eligible for up to twelve (12) months of OPT work authorization by the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). Employment under OPT must be directly related to a student's field of study and appropriate to the level of education.
To be eligible for OPT, you must have:
Valid F-1 status for at least one academic year
A valid passport
An I-94 card that shows that you are currently an "F-1" student who may remain in the U.S. for "D/S" (duration of status)
An unexpired I-20 that accurately reflects the correct/current major and degree program level.
You are currently registered as a full-time or authorized part-time student.
PERIODS OF PARTICIPATION
You may participate in OPT:
Part-time, during regular school sessions (student must be enrolled full-time)
Full-time, during annual school vacations
Full-time, after completing your program of study
OPT must be completed within 14 months of the completion of studies
WHEN TO APPLY
The earliest you may apply for OPT is 90 days (3 months) prior to the completion of studies, and the latest you may apply for OPT is 60 days following program completion. It can take several months to receive the OPT work card, so we recommend that you apply at least 90 days prior to the beginning of your intended job opportunity.
To apply for OPT authorization, you must make an appointment with the Office of International Education at 631-420-2624. At this meeting your advisor will check your eligibility, review your paperwork, and recommend OPT and put the application packet together. You will also need to fill out a I-765 Form.
WHEN MAY YOU BEGIN WORKING?
You may begin working:
After you have received the EAD (Employment Authorization Document) card, OR
On the beginning date as noted on the EAD card, whichever is later.
RESPONSIBILITIES WHILE ON OPT
You are still in F-1 status while on OPT and should be advised by the Office of International Education. You are required to report to the Office of International Education the following information:
Any change of address
Any change of status
If you are terminating the OPT earlier than the dates you were granted
Verification of your information every 6 months
You will be eligible for the Farmingdale State student health insurance plan while on OPT. You probably will need to pay federal and state taxes. See IRS Publication 519 (http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p519.pdf ).
The student must hold a STEM degree (Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math), be hired by an employer signed up for the government program "E-Verify," and will have to apply for the 17-month extension on Form I-765 with fee. Students who file a timely application for the 17-month OPT extension will be able to continue employment while the extension application is pending, until a final decision on the I-765 is received or for 180 days, whichever comes first.
TRAVEL WHILE ON OPT
You may travel while on OPT. However, please keep in mind that you are still in F-1
status and that you will need the following in order to re-enter the U.S.:
Your I-20 signed for travel within the past 5 months
Your EAD card
A letter from the employer indicating you have a temporary job in your field of study and are returning to employment
Your valid passport with a valid F-1 visa.
If your visa stamp has expired, or you have not received your EAD card, or you are not working yet, then please see an advisor before traveling during OPT. If you have graduated and have not applied for OPT, then you cannot travel. Please return to apply for OPT later.
You will be allowed a sixty-day grace period beyond the last day of training as indicated on the EAD card. You may not work during this time. You must notify the the office of International Education if you plan on transferring to another program after your OPT.