OPT is off-campus employment that is related to your major field of study.
Students who are in F-1 status and have been enrolled full-time for at least one full academic year are eligible for optional practical training:
The Office of International Programs suggests applying for OPT approximately 90 days before you expect to begin your OPT employment; however, you MUST apply BEFORE you graduate.
No. OPT applications must be submitted to the USCIS by mail, as the instructions in this packet indicate. (The Office of International Programs recommends OPT permission; the USCIS must approve it.)
You may only begin employment when you have received the EAD card and the beginning date of employment authorization (shown on the EAD) has arrived.
CPT permits employment before completion of required coursework only. CPT requires the offer of a specific job.
Yes, as long as you did not have full-time CPT for more than one year.
According to federal regulations, students should contact the Office of International Programs regarding this issue.
Yes. There is no immigration-related procedure required for doing so. As long as the employment is related to your field of study, you can work for any employer.
In order to re-enter the U.S. after you have applied for OPT, you must have your I-20 signed by the International Student Adviser within the last six months, a valid F-1 visa, a valid passport and your EAD card. It is also wise to carry a letter from your employer, confirming that you are working under the terms of OPT employment.
No. A person with OPT authorization is an F-1 student holding an EAD for OPT. You still need a signature from the International Student Adviser on your I-20 if you want to re-enter the United States during your time on OPT. The signature should be no more than six months old at the time you re-enter.
Yes. You need to obtain an I-20 for the next program of study, and complete the USCIS procedure for moving to a “new level of studies” (if you resume studies at SIUE) or the procedure for school transfer (if you go to a different school). Please note that you are only allowed to remain in the U.S. for up to 5 months between the time your OPT ends and the new program of studies is to begin; if the time period is greater than 5 months, you will be required to leave the U.S. and can only re-enter within 30 days of the start of your new program of study.
You will be eligible for another year of OPT if your new degree will be at a HIGHER level of study. For instance, if you obtained a Master’s degree, did 12 months of OPT, then enter a PhD program, you will be eligible for another 12 months of OPT following the PhD program.
If the USCIS has not yet sent you an EAD at the time you decide you do not want OPT, you may request to withdraw your application. Please make an appointment with the International Student Adviser by telephoning 650-3785. If the EAD card has been issued, it is not possible to cancel and the USCIS will consider you to have used up your OPT even if you did not work. Hence, decisions to cancel MUST be made early before the EAD has been issued.
Yes, the USCIS regulations now require the Office of International Programs to report certain information on students participating in OPT.