- How do I apply for OPT?
Please contact your DSO when you want to apply for OPT. You will need a new I-20, also known as your OPT-1-20, signed by you and your DSO. There is a $100 OPT application fee due at the time of application. Additionally you need to file the form I-765 including all the required documents and send it to USCIS. For more information check the Instructions for Form I-765 (https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/form/i-765instr.pdf) on the USCIS website.
- When is the best time to apply for OPT?
The best time to apply for OPT is 90 days before the program end date. This way the probability to receive your EAD by the time you wish to start your employment is higher.
- How long will the approval of the application process take?
The process time varies and is therefore difficult to predict. Average processing time is given by USCIS as 90 days. For this reason we encourage you to apply early.
- How much is the USCIS fee?
The USCIS application fee for the Employment Authorization is $410.00.
- What is the deadline for sending in my application to USCIS?
You may apply up to 90 days prior to the program end date and 60 days after the program end date for OPT. (the OPT start date may not e more than 60 days after your program completion)
- Do I need to apply for pre-completion OPT or post-completion OPT?
For the programs at SSU, you can only apply for post-completion OPT. If you want to work while you are in session, you need to apply for CPT.
- Do I have to have a job offer to apply for OPT?
No. You don’t need a job offer at the time of application.
- How much OPT am I eligible for?
OPT is limited to 12 months if you have not been authorized for any previous optional practical training at the same education level.
- Do I have to find a job within 90 days to be legal in the US?
Yes. The limit of unemployment days during the 12 month OPT period is 90 days. The 90 days begin with the start date that is on the Employment Authorization Document (EAD). If the unemployment exceeds 90 days, you have violated your F-1 status.
- May I obtain 12 months of OPT after each degree?
Yes. A student is eligible for 12 months OPT (17 months for IT field) for each change to a higher educational level. That means if you complete your Bachelors’ degree you are eligible for 12 months OPT and another 12 months OPT upon completion of your Masters’ degree.
- What should I do once I find an employer?
You are required to inform your DSO about: the name and address of your employer, your full name, position and work address, job duties, start date, full time/part time?, name, work address, phone number, email of supervisor, EIN (Tax number) of company, hiring person’s signature all on official company letterhead. You also have to submit a copy of the front and back of your EAD to your DSO. Only upon submitting all documents, you will receive an updated I-20 with your work authorization on it. Moreover, as an F-1 student, you are required to report changes of address within 10 day of any move. This includes the period while you are on OPT.
- Can I work for any job with my OPT authorization?
No. OPT authorization is only for employment related to your field of study. Working in an unrelated job is a serious violation of your F-1 status.
- Can I start to work if I didn’t receive my EAD?
No. You have to wait until you receive your EAD.
- Can I travel during my OPT?
Make sure to have documentation from your employer which confirms your employment or the job offer. Otherwise it is risky to travel, because your re-entry may not be assured. Moreover you will need to have an I-20 (endorsed within six months), a valid F-1 visa, and the EAD.
- How long can I stay in the US after my OPT expires?
You can remain legally 60 days after the expiration of your OPT.
- When can I apply for Social Security Number (SSN)?
You can apply for SSN when you received your EAD.
- Do I have to pay tax?