student employment - Michigan Technological University

International Students’
Work Options
Marilyn Vogler, PhD
Immigration Advisor
Associate Director, IPS
Spring 2009
Employment Authorization –
Some Basics
Unauthorized work can get both the
student and the employer in trouble.
 “Authorized” means the work documents
are in hand.
 Students must follow multiple sets of
rules: Homeland Security, MTU, Career
Center, Graduate School & Employer.
This Presentation
This presentation is about F-1 student
employment. I will discuss J-1 regulations
in a separate workshop.
 I will address only Homeland Security /
USCIS rules – not Career Center,
Graduate School, or Employer rules.
More Basics …
Student on authorized off-campus work
remain Michigan Tech students.
You must keep in touch with IPS:
Update address changes
Update employer / unemployment
Update visa status changes
IPS signs your I-20 for travel if necessary.
IPS transfers your SEVIS record for continued
Staying in Touch –
MTU Email
Current practice is that your MTU email
will remain active as long as you
use/check it regularly.
 Please check it at least weekly for IPS
 IF you have graduated, you may have your
MTU email forwarded to another address:
On-Campus Employment
“On-Campus” means
◦ MTU cuts the check (MTU or sponsor money)
◦ Agency, e.g., Argonne, sets up contract through
MTU to pay student for co-op or internship
Does not require any authorization beyond
student status & normal employment forms
 20 hours / week when school is in session
 40 hours / week during breaks and vacation
Off-Campus Employment
Requires authorization from or through
International Programs & Services (IPS)
 Authorization is formal – shows up on
the student’s immigration papers (I-20)
 Can be full- or part-time
 Off-campus means someone else cuts the
◦ Corporate, government, etc. employer
◦ Faculty with consulting business
Types of Off-Campus Employment
CPT – Curricular Practical Training
 OPT – Optional Practical Training
 Unforeseen Severe Economic Hardship
Why work off-campus?
Try out employment in your major
Employer gets to know you – some only hire
from co-op pool
 Experience other areas of the US
 Earn extra $$s
 Looks good on your resumé
 Follow family while you finish up
 No courses that you need are being offered
 Unforeseen Severe Economic Hardship
 Etc.
General Requirements –
OPT/CPT and Academic Training
Student must have been full-time student
in US at least one full academic year.
 Employment may be called “co-op,”
“internship,” “full-time,” etc.
 Must be related to student’s program.
General Requirements –
“Unforeseen Severe Economic Hardship”
Student must have been full-time student in
US at least one full academic year
Does not need to be related to student’s
20 hours per week during academic year
40 hours per week when school is not in
session: breaks, vacations, summer
Requires unexpected hardship
File I-765 like OPT
General Requirements –
“Unforeseen Severe Economic Hardship”
To get student status you had to show
the ability to pay for your education and
support while in the United States.
 But …
◦ Financial need beyond the student's control
◦ Unforeseen at the time the student applied to
the school he or she is currently attending
◦ All other potential employment opportunities
have proven to be insufficient
General Requirements –
“Unforeseen Severe Economic Hardship”
Examples include
“Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment
without fault on the part of the student,
Substantial fluctuations in the value of currency
or exchange rate,
Inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs,
Unexpected changes in the financial condition of
the student's source of support,
Medical bills,
Other substantial and unexpected expenses."
Is there a “bottom line?” … YES
You cannot, must not, MAY NOT work
off-campus without authorization from
the IPS Immigration Advisor
 Any employer that hires you without
authorization on your paperwork is
paying you illegally.
 Working illegally could jeopardize your
future status in the US.
How Do I Get Work Authorization?
Check the IPS website:
 Details vary, but in general …
◦ Initiate job hunt
◦ Gather necessary paperwork
◦ Contact IPS
 Bring in your paperwork for CPT
 Make appointment for OPT / Academic Training /
Economic Hardship
How do I know if I’m “authorized”?
Registering for co-op credits does NOT
mean you have employment authorization.
 Sending off an I-765 application does NOT
mean you have employment authorization.
 Work Authorization must be recorded on
your I-20 (page 3) or on an EAD card, but
 You can apply for jobs in your area of study
and tell the employer that you ARE eligible
to work in the US, because …
CPT/OPT are promised benefits
for which you can apply.
However, Economic Hardship
authorization is not guaranteed
or promised.
Economic Hardship?
Do not tell an off-campus
employer you are authorized to
work at a job that is outside
your major area of study until
you have your EAD card in hand.
What’s the Difference?
CPT – Curricular Practical Training
Must have job offer in hand to apply
 If you quit or are fired you must return to
MTU to complete the credits and
maintain status.
OPT – Optional Practical Training
Student doesn’t need job offer to apply
Student can remain unemployed for a limited
time (90 days limit in 1 year)
Generally post-completion, but can be precompletion if necessary
◦ CPT time exhausted
◦ Employer requires it
12-month original limit, pre- and postcombined
Extensions available for post-completion OPT
Where to find information …
Roles in the Authorization Process
 Academic Advisor
 Career Center
 IPS Immigration Advisor
What the student needs to do:
Meet with academic advisor to get her/his
approval or completion date
 Search for a job at the Career Center, the
job fair, on-line, etc.
 Remember, the job must be related to
your major unless you have an Economic
Hardship EAD, but …
 You can apply for OPT without a job offer
in hand.
Student’s tasks (continued)
Complete the required paperwork for the
Career Center and/or IPS – including
 CPT – bring your paperwork to IPS and
leave it
 OPT / Economic Hardship – make an
appointment to see the IPS Immigration
Academic Advisor’s Role
S/he can help you decide
◦ Which job offer to take
◦ How to meet the Career Center report
◦ How long you should work
◦ What semester(s) would be best
Your academic advisor’s approval is
required for co-op, but …
 Your advisor’s approval is not required for
other off-campus employment.
Career Center Role
Employment search assistance
 Employability skills training
◦ Resumes, cover letters, mock interviews, etc.
Help with required paperwork
 Verify major-relatedness
 Collect student assignment materials
 Assign a grade (undergrad)
Your IPS Advisor will …
Review all the documents & paperwork
 Check to see if you’re eligible to work
 Issue the appropriate I-20 with work
authorization noted
 Assist with preparation and mailing of
applications (OPT / Economic Hardship)
 Helps track and follow-up on applications
sent to USCIS
 Assist with extensions as requested
CPT Authorization
Authorization is internal to MTU
 Requires processing through Career
◦ Completion of paperwork
◦ Registration for Co-op credit(s) fall and spring
Requires authorization of IPS
◦ Completion of paperwork
◦ Confirmation of registration if required
◦ Processing a new I-20
Can be done “same day” if necessary
OPT – Authorization
Authorization is granted by USCIS.
IPS assists with the application process.
Approval takes 1-1/2 to 3 months.
Having a job offer speeds up approval.
It costs the student $340 to apply.
The advisor must project a completion date
as part of the OPT application process.
 For undergrads, this is the standard end-of-term.
 For grad students, it can be anytime.
CPT – More details
Can be full- or part-time, but …
◦ Students taking a full course of study (12 or 9
credits) are not eligible for full-time
No limit on the amount of CPT available,
but …
◦ 365 days of full-time CPT disqualifies you for
Generally authorized on a semester-bysemester basis.
Applying for OPT
You may apply anytime within 90 days of
your completion date.
 You may apply up to 60 days after
completion of your program (I-20 date).
 USCIS in Lincoln, NE, must RECEIVE your
application by the 60th day.
 You will have to pick a start date for your
employment authorization.
When to apply for OPT …
If you’re sure you’re graduating in …
apply beginning early Feb
apply beginning late May
apply beginning late Sept
BUT … do not apply unless you’re sure you’re
going to graduate.
What does it mean to “complete” a
You do not “complete” simply because
you walk in graduation.
 Undergrads complete on the last day of
the term in which they finish all
 Grad students complete when they turn
in all their paperwork to the Graduate
OPT … Do I wait for a job offer?
You don’t have to have a job offer in hand
to apply for OPT.
 Your application will be expedited if you
include a copy of an offer letter.
◦ On the company’s letterhead
◦ Offers your name a job
◦ Describes the type of work you will be doing
Random Bits of Information about
Practical Training
OPT is a benefit.You earn 12 months of OPT
per degree level.
◦ After an Associate Degree
◦ After a Bachelor’s
◦ After a Master’s
◦ After a PhD
 You can earn as many as 4 years of OPT, but
you cannot accumulate years to use all at once.
 You get only ONE 17-month extension.
More random bits…
365+ days of full-time CPT will make you
absolutely ineligible for OPT.
 Part-time CPT does not add up to any
“equivalent” number of full-time days.
 It’s the student’s responsibility to calculate
days (but there’s a tool on the IPS web to
And still more …
 Students
on OPT:
◦ If post-completion, work must be full-time
◦ If coursework remains, it’s pre-completion &
work must be part-time
◦ If you’re a Grad Student & only research
and/or revisions, OPT is defined as “postcompletion” – even if you haven’t
So …
Grad students …
It’s okay if you miss the completion date
on the I-20 by a little. The degree must,
however, be completed before the OPT
period expires!
Questions about applying
for OPT or CPT?
While you are waiting for your EAD
card …
You are still an F-1 student.
You can’t work on campus after you
complete your degree.
 So you must have enough money for your
living expenses while you are waiting.
 You cannot start a new degree.
While you’re waiting …
You may not start working until you
receive your card.
Check the date on your card when it arrives.
You may not start working until the start
date listed on the EAD card.
OPT and Travel
Traveling and OPT present some unique
First, getting your F-1 visa renewed while
on OPT is next to impossible.
OPT and Travel
Do not re-enter the US as a Tourist
(B1/B2 status) or any other visa status, or
you will lose the chance to use your OPT.
You must enter as an F-1 Student.
OPT and Travel
If you travel after graduation, you MUST have
all the usual F-1 travel documents, including a
valid visa, plus …
◦ An EAD card or
◦ The USCIS receipt for your OPT application
◦ Proof of employment
You can travel without a job offer
letter, but it’s tricky!
If you travel without a job offer letter, you
must return to the country BEFORE your
EAD card is issued. The time it takes is
unpredictable at best!
If you have an EAD card but no job,
OPT and Travel –
after you start working
You may travel after you start working.
 Your employer should provide a travel
letter saying clearly that
◦ You are an F-1 student on OPT
◦ You are returning to resume employment
with the employer
You may even be able to get an expired
visa renewed if your employer requires
travel and will write a letter saying so.
OPT and Further Study
You may choose to apply for additional study
following your period of OPT.
You may apply for another degree at the
same school or at another school.
 You should request that IPS transfer your
SEVIS record if it’s a new school.
 But “Authorization to engage in OPT
employment is automatically terminated
when the student transfers to another
school or begins study at another
educational level.” (NAFSA)
OPT and Further Study
Your OPT will be cancelled:
◦ On the “transfer release date” on which your
SEVIS record is transferred to a new school
◦ When you have been accepted into AND
register for courses toward a degree at a
higher level at the same institution (MTU).
OPT and Further Study
◦ You CAN register for classes at the same school
(even if they will count toward a higher degree or
a degree in a different program) as long as you do
not request a Change of Level or Change of Major
and get a new I-20.
◦ You CAN register for workshop-type classes (like
a short-course in how to take the GRE) or for
non-degree classes as a “guest student” as long as
an I-20 isn’t required.
I received my EAD card!
Email your IPS Immigration Advisor (that’s
) with the date that it arrived
 Send a copy to the IPS office
 Update your address with the IPS office
We remain your immigration advisors for the
duration of your OPT + 60 days UNLESS you
obtain some other visa status.
Extensions …
“Gap” extensions for those with an H1-B
petition filed
 STEM extensions
◦ Science, Technology, Engineering, Math fields
◦ Employer registered with E-Verify
“Gap” extensions
If your employer has filed an H1-B
petition BEFORE your OPT expires
 Extension is “automatic”
 Requires you to request an extension
from IPS
◦ Proof of filing
◦ Proof of pending status
◦ Proof of approval
Extension is good until H-1B is effective /
17-Month STEM Extension
◦ Science, Technology, Engineering, Math fields
 Chemical Engineering had been left out, but is now
◦ Employer registered with E-Verify
 Numbers are small but increasing
◦ Requires filing I-765
◦ Requires filing BEFORE your OPT expires
◦ Service center must receive application
BEFORE your OPT expires
17-Month STEM Extension
◦ Filed like original OPT
◦ Additional info required on I-765
 Degree CIP Code
 Employer’s name on I-765
 Copy of transcript / diploma showing degree
◦ Employers seem to be handling these
 I like to check I-765
 I must provide an I-20
 Request form on IPS website
◦ You may keep working before approval IF the
application is filed by deadline
17-Month STEM Extension
◦ You MUST stay in touch with IPS and report
any changes of address / employment / visa
◦ You MUST confirm employer every 6 months
even if there are no changes.
◦ Final rules are not out – expected any time
◦ Things may change … again
◦ No word out on renewal of visa while on
After CPT, OPT
CPT → completion of degree
OPT → 60 days to begin H-1B, get a new I-20
for another academic program, leave the US
(New academic program must begin within 5
months of end date of OPT)
H1-B → 10 days to leave or transfer to new
Some students apply for and get a “green
card,” permanent residency.
Beyond the OPT → H1-B
Students must have at least a BS to apply.
 Students do not have to have been on
 Employers sponsor and file for the H1-B.
 Application period opens April 1 for the
following October 1 FY.
That is, a student sponsored for an H1-B on April 1,
2008, could begin employment (if it’s approved) on
October 1 2008.
Beyond the OPT → H1-B ???
There are quotas!
 The quotas for undergrads are filled
within a day or two of April 1.
 There is a supplemental quota for
persons with graduate degrees from US
 Even at that, there are many more
applicants than visas.
Where to find information …