Post Completion Optional Practical Training Workshop Spring 2012 Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a benefit for F-1 visa holders whereby students can engage in a temporary 12 month employment for the purpose of gaining practical experience directly related to his or her major field of study. OPT is valid once per level of study. Bachelors degree = 12 months OPT Masters degree = 12 months OPT Doctorate = 12 months OPT STEM Majors = 17 month extension Students who have completed their educational objective and have: been lawfully enrolled in full-time status at MSU for one academic year preceding their OPT application have maintained their F-1 visa status are in good standing with MSU and USCIS. (Those students who are on a leave of absence or who have been suspended from their academic programs before applying for OPT are not eligible.) An offer of employment is NOT required to apply for OPT. Students are expected to actively seek employment either before or after graduation, but cannot begin working until the EAD has been received and their first day of “authorized” OPT has arrived. Anywhere in the United States Off-campus On-campus Paid jobs Unpaid jobs (i.e. internships) Volunteer positions Yes. In a position related to your degree. Volunteer job is a job that the company does not ordinarily pay someone to do Keep a log of the days and times/hours you work; and who your supervisor is. Keep our office updated In the Office of International Services (OIS), Monday through Friday between the hours of 10am and 4pm. No appointment is necessary. You must have all of your documents ready (including copies) when you come to the OIS to apply for OPT. We will issue your final documents through our office. Submit to the Office of International Services, the following: Form I-765, http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/I-765.pdf, completed and signed Copy of all previous I-20(s), pages 1 & 3 Copy of I-94, front and back Copy of biographical page(s) of your passport Copy of most recent F-1 Visa Check or money order ($380.00) made payable to USCIS Two recent photos per USCIS specifications (passport style) Your Start Date must fall within 60 days after your program end date. Provide this date to OIS. Things to consider: Will you have an employer lined up after graduation? Do you still need to find an employer after graduation? “Permission to Accept Employment” box MUST be checked. Line 16: Post-completion code: (c)(3)(B); STEM Extension code: (c) (3)(C) Your form must have a barcode on it. #10 – Please enter your I-94 number (located on the top left of your I-94 card and include all 11 numbers) #11 – This does NOT refer to authorized CPT #12 – Please enter the U.S. point of entry, not your home country. The U.S. point of entry can be found on your I-94 (i.e. Newark, Los Angeles, etc.) You must sign and date this form at the bottom of the page. There are two options: Money Order Check: Make sure there is money in your account! If your check “bounces” Homeland Security will cease processing your application, charge you a fee, and request payment of the $380. They will not accept a check as payment from you. If you fail to pay within 14 days of the notice, your application will be rejected, however the debt to the U.S. will still be due and the government may take legal action to collect the debt. If you still want to apply for OPT, you will need to re-file a new application and documents and also pay another $380 application fee. They will not accept a check as payment from you. Regular mail – USCIS PO Box 660867 Dallas, TX 75266 Express/Courier – USCIS Attn: AOS 2501 S. State Hwy. 121, Business Suite 400 Lewisville, TX 75067 Currently USCIS may require up to three months for processing. USCIS processing time is determined by their current workload and can be checked at: www.uscis.gov Processing will take longer the closer it gets to the graduation date. Remember, USCIS processes applications for ALL U.S. universities within our region. Your check will be cashed USCIS will send a receipt notice to you usually within 2 or 3 weeks, which will include your case number, website and a 1-800 customer service number. USCIS will send your EAD to our office. We will notify you immediately by email that it is ready for pick-up. Once you have your card, wait for your first day of OPT in order to begin working. If it has been 90 days since you applied for OPT and you have not received your EAD, please call USCIS Customer Service to verify status then come or call the OIS and speak with an Advisor to discuss your options. USCIS rules mandate that students on 12-month OPT cannot be unemployed for more than 90 days. USCIS has stated they will terminate the student’s OPT if 90 days of unemployment is recorded. The student must then leave the country. Keep in mind that this is self-regulated. USCIS regulations mandate that you MUST update OIS (via email) with the following information: Name of employer, address, phone number, supervisor’s email. Your personal information, such as address & phone number. Failure to report changes of employment and residence while on 12-month OPT may lead to the loss of F-1 visa status. Within 10 business days of change, report: New employer. Change of employer. Change of personal address, phone number, email You can start employment ONLY after you have received your EAD and your approved start date of OPT has passed. Don’t forget, your employment must be directly related to your major field of study. Working without proper documentation is a serious violation of your status. If you have applied for OPT, it is inadvisable to travel outside the U.S. until you have received your EAD and a job offer. The Office of International Programs does not recommend for you to travel during this time. You will need to take your: Employment Authorization Document, 2. I-20 with the OPT endorsement, 3. A valid passport, 4. A valid F-1 Visa in your passport, 5. Employer letter or job offer letter. 1. When can I start working? Upon receipt of your EAD AND on the official start date of your OPT. What is my visa status while on OPT? You are still an F-1 visa holder and part of the MSU Office of International Services. Can I travel before I get my EAD? By traveling before you receive your EAD and a job, your OPT may be cancelled as USCIS will view your departure as abandoning your request for OPT. Can I travel once I receive my EAD? Yes, if you have a valid visa and passport, but an immigration officer may question you about the place of your employment & reason for traveling. Take all of your documents with you. My visa is expiring. What do I need to do to get it renewed? The risk of getting a visa denial while on OPT is high. According to federal regulations, an F-1 visa student must return home after finishing their program. The embassy official may view the renewal of your visa while on OPT as your intent to try to stay in the U.S. instead of an intent to return to your home country. How much time do I have after my OPT expires and before I have to leave the country? You have a 60 day grace-period in order to get your affairs in order before returning to your home country. Only available for students graduating with a STEM degree in: Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics Please visit our website to see if your major is listed & download the handout. Should you decide not to apply for OPT, you: Have a 60 day grace-period to start a new program at a higher level at Morgan or a new school, or put your affairs in order and leave the U.S. Cannot work or study during the 60 day grace-period Thank you for attending the Office of International Service’s OPT Information Session. As always, when in doubt do not hesitate to contact OIS for advice!