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Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Last updated February 20, 2020

Optional Practical Training

Overview

What is Optional Practical Training?

There are two forms of Options Practical Training (OPT): Pre-completion and Post-completion. At Morningside College, we only issue Post-completion. Post-completion OPT is a temporary 12-month work permit for a student requesting to work in the United States in a field related to their major/area of study after graduation.

 

Application Process

When can I apply for OPT?

Students can apply for OPT no sooner than 90 days before their program end date. The last day a student can apply for OPT is 60 days past their program end date. See the below table

Graduation date

First day to apply for OPT

Final day to apply for OPT

May 2020 February 5th, 2020 July 4th, 2020
December 2020 September 19th, 2020 February 21st, 2021
May 2021 February 10th, 2021 July 10th, 2021
December 2021 September 18th, 2021 February 15th, 2022
May 2022 February 11th, 2022 July 11th, 2022

 

What steps must I take in order to complete the OPT application process?

  1. Complete form I-765. Read the instructions carefully.
  2. Complete the OPT request form.
  3. Set up an appointment with your DSO in the Krone Advising Center. Bring with you:
  • Completed OPT request form
  • Completed form I-765
  • All required documentation: 
    • Check or Money Order for $410.00 made payable to "Department of Homeland Security"
    • Two recent passport style photographs
    • Passport
    • Copy of your most recent I-94 admission record
    • All previously issued I-20's

 

What is an RFE?

RFE stands for “request for evidence.” USCIS may issue this if they need more information before they can process your OPT application. You are responsible for keeping track of your application status. If you are issued an RFE, you will need to work with your DSO to submit the additional evidence.

 

Reporting Requirements

WARNING: If you do not report your practical training/employment, the U.S. Government will terminate your F-1 SEVIS record 90 days after the OPT start date printed on your EAD card. A terminated SEVIS record cancels OPT authorization and requires you to leave the United States. 

You are responsible for reporting your OPT employment updates using the SEVP Portal. Report the following changes using the SEVP Portal:

  • Employment/Practical Training information: Report employment/practical training as soon as you start working. Report employment changes within 10 days.
    • Post-completion OPT: Do not exceed 90 days of unemployment.
  • Address changes: Report within 10 days of moving.

 

OPT Experience

When can I begin my OPT?

After you receive your EAD card. You will be notified when your OPT has been approved. However, you cannot begin working until after you have physically received your card.

Can I have multiple jobs while on OPT?

Yes, if they are all related to your major. Generally speaking, “side jobs” such as coaching, athletic lessons, and waitressing are not related to majors offered at Morningside College. 

Can I change employers during my OPT?

Yes, you can change your employers. Any time you change your employer you must update your SEVP Portal. Note: DO NOT delete an employer unless you can prove that you did not work for them. 

If I lose my job, is my OPT terminated?

No. You are granted a total of 90 unemployment days for your one-year OPT. Any time you are not employed, your unemployment days will be accumulated until you begin your next employment (including weekend days). 

Can I extend my OPT?

If you graduate with a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) degree and your job is related to that field, you can apply for a STEM OPT extension.

What happens when my OPT is over?

You are granted an additional 60-day grace period to remain in the United States. You cannot work during this time. Within this 60-day grace period, you have the following options:

  • Depart the United States. Once you leave the U.S. (including trips to Canada and Mexico) after completing your studies and OPT period you are not eligible to re-enter with your current I-20. The grace period is meant for travel within, and preparation to depart the U.S.
  • Transfer your SEVIS record to a new school.

 

Travel

While OPT your application is processing:
According to Student Exchange Visitor Program’s guidance, students participating in post-completion OPT may travel abroad while the OPT application is pending. However, travel during this period should be undertaken with caution.You must carry your OPT receipt notice from USCIS, your OPT I-20, and the other regular travel documents. However, be aware of these risks:

  • USCIS sometimes sends a request to OPT applicants asking for more information or for you to correct a problem with your documentation. These requests are sent by postal mail, so it might be difficult for you to respond if you are not inside the U.S. It is your application, the KAC does not have the authority to respond for you.
  • After your OPT application is approved, you must also have proof of employment and your EAD in order to re-enter the U.S. If the OPT application is approved while you are abroad, and if you do not yet have proof of employment or your EAD, this could jeopardize your return to the U.S.

After your OPT application is approved:

If your post-completion OPT has been approved and your EAD issued, you can travel and re-enter the U.S. only if you have proof of employment. If you are still looking for practical training opportunities, you should not travel internationally.

For travel, carry the following documents with you:

  • OPT I-20 signed by a DSO
  • Proof of employment in your field of study (letter of employment, written job offer)
  • EAD card (on the EAD card, there is a statement “Not Valid For Reentry.” This means the EAD card cannot be used by itself for reentry to the U.S.)
  • Valid passport
  • Unexpired F-1 visa

After the OPT approval start date, time spent outside the U.S. will count as unemployment against the 90-day limit.  However, travel while employed either during a vacation authorized by an employer or as part of your employment will not count as unemployment. Please keep the KAC informed of any travel plans while on OPT that may affect your status.

 

Resources

OPT Checklist

Study in the States