Regular And STEM OPT Workshop

Regular And STEM OPT Workshop

What is OPT?

  • Optional Practical Training is a temporary employment for international students moving to the USA on an F1 visa. It is a specifically designed visa category for the F1 visa students, by the USCIS the authorization body. All the guidelines regarding the passport, Visa, and employment permit are determined by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • Students who graduated in STEM subjects such as Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics get a privilege to extend their employment period to 24 months. Hence they get 36 months in total to work and live in the USA.

Eligibility Requirements for OPT

  • The F1 students must maintain a good score and sufficient GPA. It is determined a 2 GPA for undergraduates and a 3 GPA for Graduates.
  • They must have a valid and active passport to get an OPT and F1 visa to move to the USA.
  • At the time of the application, the international Students must have a valid F1 visa.
  • After completing two semesters in their undergraduate or graduation they become eligible for OPT.
  • Application for OPT must be filed in the time frame of 6 months after applying for an F1 visa.
  • The course or degree in which the OPT students are applying must be a regular and a full-time course.
  • Their course must have a full-time duration of at least one year. They are eligible to work under OPT in their academic field.

Eligibility for PhD students

  • All the PhD students have the same eligibility criteria as that of undergrads and grads. For instance, maintaining an F1 visa status, a valid passport, and a time frame of 6 months after submitting the F1 visa application.
  • Their application for OPT must be filed after the coursework is completed. And it should be a Post OPT application in their academic area.

OPT Application Timeline

  • Submission Timeframe to VISA

– The F1 students looking forward to working in the OPT must file their application at least 100 days before the course’s end date.

– OPT aspirants also have to apply to the USCIS to get their OPT approve at least 90 days before the last date of their course or degree.

– Also, an F1 student can file their application after 60 days of their course. – One more important point to note is that the OPT students must file their applications for OPT and it must be received by the USCIS within the period of 30 days of Form I-20 being issued.

– Any delay in the timeframe that has been set up by the USCIS will result in the rejection of the OPT application timeline.

  • Requested start date

– The F1 visa processing time is usually determined in 10 business days. – The USCIS processing time varies from approximately 3 – 4 months. However, there is a major difference in the timeline of the acceptance and rejection of the approval. However, the application is concluded before the requested date for the OPT duration is beginning.

– After the course is conclude, the candidates have successfully complete their first two semesters and all the coursework. They can start working just after when their course is complete.

  • EAD Employment Authorization Document

After the OPT application is approved by the USCIS the F1 students receive their EAD.

– Without an EAD the F1 students cannot find work under OPT. Basically, They are not eligible to work under OPT without an EAD.

– Usually after the approval of their EAD application, the candidates receive their EAD cards within 10 days. However, the period of approval can take up to 30 days after the filing of the application.

– Applicants can track their EAD application status through the official website of USCIS. After creating their account online they can track their status.

  • OPT employment

– The F1 students can get the privilege of working under OPT either after completing their degree or before completing. It is referrer to as the pre-completion and post-completion OPT. During pre-completion, the students can work for 20 hours per week while during the post-completion OPT, the students can work full-time.

  • Volunteering on OPT

– The USCIS policy and guidelines state that where there is no violation of labor laws OPT volunteering is allow. The terms of OPT employment are determine by the employers.

Other Required employment updates

– As per the USCIS guidelines, all the documents and all the relevant information regarding the candidates must be provided by the OPT students on their own. – This is not only restrict to the documents but the current changes in the employment also must be update.

– The OPT students must update

– Name of the student

– The country from where they have opted for SEVIS. Their citizenship and other details. – The SEVIS US address and if there is a change in their current address. – Their home country and their address in the home country

– If there is any change in their F1 VISA status

OPT Application Process Review

  • OPT students must begin by submitting a form requesting approval for their OPT application.
  • They can mail or submit their application to the USCIS United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
  • After the USCIS has received their application, the F1 visa students get a receipt.
  • Moving on, the F1 visa students also get the approval notice from the USCIS regarding their OPT permit. However, the approval notice alone is not enough for beginning OPT employment.
  • After getting the approval the OPT students will receive an EAD within two weeks of the approval notice. The Employment Authorization Document is mandatory if the OPT students want to begin their employment in the US job market.
  • After the OPT students receive their EAD they can update their employment form. It is mandatory for OPT students to update their visa status and employment status on the official website of the USCIS.
  • Those OPT students who are eligible for STEM OPT can apply for an extension 90 days before the concluding date of their course. The STEM OPT can be extend for 24 months after working for 12 months in the OPT.


The Student and Exchange Visitor Program SEVP Portal is design for F1 students who are eligible to work in the USA under OPT. This portal allows OPT students to match the legal requirements and criteria. Also, it is a platform where OPT students update their employment and visa status. Only the OPT-approved students can use the SEVP Portal, it is simple to use. The OPT students just have to create an account and they can access their account anytime and update their current status on the official site.

The SEVP Portal has – Contact Information including name, citizenship, and address of the OPT students, employment updates and information, form I-20 reports, and travel information reports stating departure, duration, and return dates.

The Portal also has a student guide to enlighten the students through the process of OPT. the guide is dedicate to the F1 students who seek help and apart from the Designated School Officer DSO the OPT students can rely upon the portal’s help page.


The USCIS allows travel and re-entry in the USA but it does not recommend the F1 visa students to travel while their OPT approval is pending. It will be not easy to monitor the OPT status while you are away. There is always a risk of missing the deadlines for instance the Request for Evidence RFE, which is receive by the F1 students has to respond within a certain time frame. Also if you are outside the USA and the OPT gets reject you cannot re-enter the USA. The F1 visa status will come to a halt automatically, the same rule is applicable to the STEM OPT students. If the request for their OPT STEM extension is reject they will not be allow to re-enter the USA.

Also when an OPT student leaves the USA for travel they must ensure that they have all the documents to re-enter –

  • They must have a valid passport.
  • They must have a valid F1 visa stamp.
  • And a valid travel endorsement with Form I-20, not older than 6 months.
  • They must have evidence of their enrollment in any university and college based in the USA.
  • They must have an OPT receipt, a job offer letter from the employer, an employment verification letter, OPT STEM extension.
  • And a valid EAD Employment Authorization Document.


This period is for the international students who have applied for the visa transition. The CAP-GAP extension allows the students to remain in the USA while their visa is being transition. While OPT students apply for an H1B visa for at least 6 months before. The H1B approval depends on the USCIS. The OPT employment can expire before the approval of the H1B application by the USCIS.

Eligibility for CAP GAP and H1B

– The F1 students who have filed a request for an H1B visa and have a valid F1 visa status. They are eligible for a Cap-Gap extension.

– Also after the OPT authorization has expired the OPT students can enjoy their stay in the USA. while the visa is in the transition period.