Holding an F1 visa gives you a chance to adopt the mode of Optional Practical Training (OPT) that allows you to work off-campus for 12 months during and/or after studies. But amidst the joy of landing a suitable job and efforts to prove your worth, you must not ignore the importance of keeping your university and immigration authorities in the loop.
You should adhere to OPT employment reporting requirements at every step of the process from beginning your job search to completing your training. We can understand that you might not possess the entire knowledge about various requirements that need to be fulfilled for OPT reporting.
Therefore, we have covered all the important points in this blog post. Enjoy reading!
Why is the OPT Employment Reporting Necessary?
As per the rules set by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the records of every international student must remain up-to-date in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) for maintaining their student status. Updating current information regarding duration and type of employment is essential for both STEM and non-STEM OPT students to maintain their F1 status.
SEVIS and the SEVP Portal are important for the DSH while supporting the legal entry of international students into the United States for education and cultural exchange. The information contained in these portals must be accurate, complete, and up to date. Any Inaccurate information jeopardizes an international student’s ability to legally remain in the United States and can also delay the issuance of new visas and entry into the United States.
The responsibility of maintaining records in SEVIS is handled by the Designated School Official (DSO) of every university. So, you need to coordinate with the DSO of your university. Alternatively, you can also make changes in your details yourself by using the SEVP portal. You will receive an email for creating your account on the SEVP portal on day 1 of your approved OPT.
But, it’s important to mention here that the SEVP portal can be accessed by only those F1 students who engage in post-completion OPT. For F1 students engaging in pre-completion OPT, communicating with DSO is the only option.
What are various OPT Reporting Requirements?
The various requirements for OPT reporting that you need to comply with are listed below.
International students must report any change to the DSO within 10 days of change occur. Students in STEM OPT must work with their DSO every six months to verify that their SEVIS record is accurate and reflects their current status.
- Request for OPT Authorization
OPT employment reporting process starts right from the day you apply for your optional practical training with the help of your university. You need to submit forms I-20 and I-765 which are proofs of recommendation made by the DSO of your academic institution and application made for employment authorization respectively. The details regarding these forms are filled in SEVIS.
- Relationship between Job and Studies
F1 students undertaking any kind of employment need to show how their daily work activities are related to their field of study in a written description. The duties you perform at your workplace must be directly linked to your course or educational program.
- Changes in Details
International students must report within 10 days of the occurrence of any change pertaining to the following details.
- Official name
- Physical address
- Mailing address
- Phone number
- Email address
- Job title/role
- Employer’s name
- Employer’s address
- Start date of employment
- End date of employment
- Period of unemployment
- Additional Obligations of STEM Students
STEM OPT students have certain additional obligations that they need to discharge during both initial as well as extension periods by coordinating with the DSO of their university.
- Regular Follow-up
STEM students going through practical training under STEM OPT extension have to ensure that their records in SEVIS are accurate.
- Annual Self-Evaluation
An annual self-evaluation report has to be submitted by every STEM OPT student to their DSO for showing the progress they have achieved through the training. The first assessment needs to be submitted 12 months after the STEM OPT start date. The second or final assessment should be submitted after the completion of the STEM OPT extension period.
In both cases, the student has a time of 10 days to submit the assessment report. Failure to submit the final evaluation report is considered as a violation of the terms of the Form I-983.
- Material Changes to Form I-983
Following changes taking place in the details mentioned in the original form I-983 need to be reported via modified form I-983 as per the OPT reporting requirements.
- Change in employer’s name.
- Change in employer’s EIN.
- Reduction in student compensation that is not tied to a reduction in hours worked.
- Significant decrease in hours per week for STEM OPT training of a student.
- Changes to the employer’s commitments.
- Changes in student’s learning objectives.
- Changing Employers
On moving from one employer to another, STEM OPT candidates must add the details about their new employer in the system (SEVIS) before beginning to work. They should also submit a new I-983 form within 10 days of starting the new job.
As a STEM OPT Student, you have a period of 10 days to report your unemployment. As per the rules, STEM OPT students have a total of 150 days of allowable unemployment – 90 days during the initial period and 60 days during the extension period.
- Change of Visa Status
If your visa status changes before the expiration of your EAD, i.e., employment authorization document, you must report the same as soon as possible.
- Leaving the Country early
You should inform your date of departure to your DSO in case you want to leave the USA before the expiration of your EAD.
In some cases, students need to coordinate with their DSO before a change occurs. This happens because a DSO needs to grant the student permission in SEVIS or verify that the government records on the student are accurate for re-entry into the United States.
These change requests include:
- Transferring to a new SEVP-certified school.
- Traveling outside the United States.
- Bringing dependents into the country.
- Requesting employment or training authorization.
Studying and working in a foreign land is never an easy affair as you need to stay alert regarding the latest government policies and amendments in rules that can affect your objectives. Following OPT employment reporting requirements will help you avoid legal issues and maintain F1 status properly.
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