OPT- What You Need to Know

Twelve (12) month work-authorization for the
F-1 student visa
Purpose: work experience in field of study
US Immigration sees OPT = “Benefit” of valid
visa status and “Academic Training”
Must apply through USCIS and pay $380
Three (3) months to process
When approved, get card called “EAD”
Can work anywhere in the U.S.
Don’t need a job to apply
Days of unemployment will be counted (90 Max)
Work must be related to your degree
One OPT after each higher academic level
Report information to OIE while on OPT (still F-1)
1) Pre-Completion
• OPT starts and ends before you complete your degree.
• Must be part-time (20 hrs/wk) during semester unless you
have completed all course requirements except thesis or
• Days of Unemployment are not counted
2) Post-Completion
• OPT begins after your completion date
• Must work at least 20 hrs/wk or more
Must apply for each of these separately
Allowed up to 12 months total combined
For immigration purposes, it is NOT the day you graduate.
Undergraduate Students:
• Final day of examinations of your final semester
May 2011 -> Friday, May 13th
Graduate Students:
• Final day of examinations of your final semester
• The date that you defend
• The date you turn in your thesis/dissertation with all corrections
Grad Students who have completed all coursework and have only
thesis/dissertation remaining:
• Any date that is best for your situation
The OPT start date can not be more than 60 days
past your program completion date.
If your completion date is May 13th,
then the latest date you could start OPT is July 12, 2011
An additional 17 months of work authorization if you have:
• A degree in a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics,
field of study.
• A job/job offer with an employer who has signed up with the E-Verify
program (federal contracts)
• Currently working on 12-month OPT
Applying for the STEM:
• Very similar process to 12-month OPT ($380, paperwork)
• Contact OIE 60-90 days prior to expiration of initial OPT
• Must apply *before* your current OPT ends
• May continue to work while waiting for approval and new card
• Can’t travel outside of the US until you get your new STEM EAD card.
Company must sponsor you for this visa type.
F-1 visa ends upon H1B start date.
Private Sector: H1B applications are submitted starting on 04/01
and close on 10/01. OIE can issue a “Cap-Gap I-20” if needed.
Non-Profit/University : H1Bs can be submitted at any time.
If approved, contact OIE and send copy of Approval Notice.
1. Choose a start-date then submit OPT application 3 months before that date!
• Apply early! USCIS 90 days processing time
• Deadline = 60 days past your completion date.
2. Gather necessary documents
• Copies of immigration docs
• Passport style photos
• Check or Money Order for $380
• Completed Form I-765
• Letter from Advisor
3. Schedule an appointment with Amelia: She will issue a new OPT I-20 and be
happy to look over your application before you mail it.
4. Mail application packet to USCIS: Be careful -- Read instructions!
Complete Form 1-765
Check for $380 to USDHS
Copies of:
• Passport ID page
• I-94 and visa stamp
• OPT I-20
• All previous I-20s
• Any previous EADs
• 2 passport photos
Where can I passport photos?
Ritz Camera (12$/2) - 861 Williston Rd.
Photo Garden (12$/6) – 10 Dorset St
Chittenden Superior Court (13$/2) – 175 Main
FedEx/Kinkos (14$/2) - 199 Main/Winooski
Notification from USCIS in 2-3
weeks = they received it.
Case Number in left-hand corner
to check status online at
90-Day processing period begins
from date of receipt
Prepare to be patient; a 90-day wait is normal
Be clear with potential employers
Check case status online at
Update address with USCIS at 1 (800) 375-5283
to prevent delays in receiving your card
•You cannot begin working until the EAD is in your hand!
•You cannot begin working before the start date on your EAD
• Copy the card and send it to Amelia
Now what?
• May begin work from start date
• Report address change to Amelia
• Report employer name and address
Best advice: Don’t travel while OPT application is pending.
If travel is necessary while OPT is pending or before OPT starts, consult
with Amelia
After OPT is granted and start date has passed:
• Do NOT travel outside the U.S. if you do not have a job!
• While on OPT, you must present the following upon re-entry to US:
EAD (OPT card)
Proof of employment
I-20 signed within last 6 months
Valid F-1 visa
Employer name and address
Name change
 Do not accrue more than
• 90 days unemployment
• 120 days (STEM)
Residential address
Any changes in
Report to OIE:
Change of visa status
Back to school
Work in a field related to
your degree program
I-20 signed every six (6)
You are still an F-1 student!
Amelia’s Walk-In Hours
Monday afternoons: 1pm – 4pm
Thursday mornings: 9am – 12noon