Optional Practical Training workshop

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Information on Optional Practical Trainin for F visa holders

Information on Optional Practical Trainin for F visa holders

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  • 1. Office of International Programs Union East Rm. 203 www.sa.utep.edu/oip oip@utep.edu (915)747-5664
  • 2. Off-Campus Employment F-1 / F-3 students may work off campus in one of 3 ways: 1) Curricular Practical Training 2) Economic Hardship 3) Optional Practical Training
  • 3. What is Optional Practical Training (OPT)?  OPT is “temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student’s major area of study.”  Employment is authorized for up to 12 months after studies are completed (*longer if eligible for 17-month extension)
  • 4. What is Optional Practical Training (OPT)?  12 months of OPT is available for each degree level completed, provided you move from lower to higher degrees  Current policy: students in certificate programs may also apply for OPT
  • 5. Am I Eligible for OPT?  Have valid F-1 / F-3 student status at the time of application  Be a current UTEP student  Have been enrolled full time or equivalent for one academic year at the time you would begin OPT.  What is considered full-time? 
  • 6. Full-Time / Equivalencies  Undergraduates: 12 hours / term  Graduates (Master’s / Doctoral): 9 hours / term OR thesis OR dissertation  ATCP, Certificate programs: 9 hours  Part-time Border Commuters (Mexicans only): 1 academic course per term, renew I-20s on time  Last term: reduced course load permission
  • 7. OPT Eligibility  Must be enrolled in at least one course in last term  Must have less than 12 months of previous full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for current level of study.  Will complete all coursework by the end of the current term
  • 8. OPT Basics  Allows employment on a full-time basis  Also, you must work at least 20 hours / week to maintain your status  You may work an unlimited number of hours  You can use your OPT anywhere in the U.S.—Do not use it in Mexico  Note: F-3 students are restricted to living in Mexico & commuting to the US on OPT  Unpaid employment (volunteering) is permitted where it does not violate labor laws
  • 9. Things to Think About  Unlike CPT, you do not need to have a job offer before applying for OPT  OPT can begin up to 2 months after the program end date.  If you have a job offer already, this will help you choose your start date  If you have no offer, or need a little extra time for thesis or dissertation, choose a later start date
  • 10. Things to Think About  Applying for OPT may result in a change to your I-20 expiration date (officially called your “program end date”)  New date will reflect graduating term (write this down!):  Summer 2013 graduates: Aug 6, 2013  Fall 2013 graduates: Dec 13, 2013  Exceptions: completing thesis / dissertation in the middle of a term (can use earlier date)
  • 11. Things to Think About  You are NOT authorized to work between your program end date and the start of OPT  It is recommended to apply for OPT BEFORE you complete your program  You may apply up to 90 days before completion  You may also apply up to 60 days after program completion (but you may not be given a full 12 months of OPT)
  • 12. Choices for OPT Start Dates  Fall 2013 graduates: Dec 14, 2013 – Feb 11, 2014  Spring 2014 graduates: May 17, 2014– July 15, 2014  Summer 2014 graduates*: Aug 6, 2014 – Oct 4, 2014  These dates are dictated by the regulatory requirement that OPT must end no more than 14 months after degree completion.  *end date may vary depending on your final summer session
  • 13. Earliest Date to Apply  Fall 2013 graduates: Sept 14, 2013  Spring 2014 graduates: February 15, 2014  Summer 2014 graduates: May 7, 2014 (These are the earliest dates you may mail your applications to US CIS; can submit paperwork to OIP 1-2 weeks prior to these dates)
  • 14. While on OPT  You can only have a maximum of 90 cumulative days of unemployment (throughout the entire year)  You should be actively looking for a job!  Report all employment / unemployment to OIP within 10 days of a change & every 6 months  Don’t forget that volunteer work can count to maintain your immigration status
  • 15. OPT Timeline – Fall Graduates Last Semester of Program Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Sept 14, 2013: earliest you can mail app to US CIS (90 days before) Program end date 12/13/2013 Feb 11, 2014 : deadline for Fall ‘13 grads to have application at US CIS; latest date to start OPT clock Possible OPT start dates: 12/14/13 – 02/11/2014 Sept 1, 2013: Student turns in app to OIP ; chooses Jan 15, 2014 start date Sept 8: Packet ready to mail Sept 14: student applies at earliest date; mails packet US CIS processing Average 2 months processing time – receive card 3 months processing time - receive card Jan 15, 2014: Start working when you have the card in your possession Graduation
  • 16. OPT Timeline – Fall Graduates If you apply late Last Semester of Program Aug Sept Oct Nov Dec Jan Feb Mar Sept 14, 2013: earliest you can mail app to US CIS (90 days before) Program end date 12/13/2013 Feb 11, 2014 : deadline for Fall ‘13 grads to have application at US CIS; latest date to start OPT clock Possible OPT start dates: 12/14/2013 – 02/11/2014 Jan 10, 2014: Student turns in app to OIP ; chooses Feb 11, 2014 start date Jan 18: Packet ready to mail US CIS processing Average 2 months (Mar) processing time – receive card 3 months (April) processing time - receive card Graduation-may not work yet! Apr
  • 17. OPT Timeline –Spring Graduates Last Semester of Program Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Feb 15: earliest you can mail app to US CIS (90 days before) Program end date 5/16/2014 Jul 15 : deadline for Spring ‘14 grads to have application at US CIS; latest date to start OPT clock Possible OPT start dates: 5/17/2014 – 7/15/2014 Feb 1, 2014: Student turns in app to OIP ; chooses Jun 15 start date Feb 8: Packet ready to mail Feb 15: student applies at earliest date; mails packet US CIS processing Average 2 months processing time – receive card 3 months processing time - receive card June 15, 2014: Start working when you have the card in your possession Graduation
  • 18. OPT Timeline – Spring Graduates If you apply late Last Semester of Program Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Feb 15: earliest you can mail app to US CIS (90 days before) Program end date 5/16/2014 July 15: deadline for Spring ‘14 grads to have application at US CIS; latest date to start OPT clock Possible OPT start dates: 5/17/2014 -7/15/2014June 1, 2014: Student turns in app to OIP ; chooses July 10 start date Jun 8: Packet ready to mail US CIS processing Average 2 months (Aug) processing time – receive card 3 months (Sept) processing time - receive card Graduation-may not work yet! Sept
  • 19. OPT Timeline –Summer Graduates Last Semester of Program Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov May 7: earliest you can mail app to US CIS (90 days before) Program end date 8/5/2014 Oct 4: deadline for Summer ‘14 grads to have application at US CIS; latest date to start OPT clock Possible OPT start dates: 8/6/2014 – 10/4/2014 May 1, 2014: Student turns in app to OIP ; chooses Sept 14 start date May 7: Packet ready to mail May 7: student applies at earliest date; mails packet US CIS processing Average 2 months processing time – receive card 3 months processing time - receive card Sept 14, 2014: Start working when you have the card in your possession Graduation
  • 20. OPT Timeline – Summer Graduates If you apply late Last Semester of Program Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sept Oct Nov May 7: earliest you can mail app to US CIS (90 days before) Program end date 8/5/2014 Oct 4: deadline for Summer ‘14 grads to have application at US CIS; latest date to start OPT clock Possible OPT start dates: 8/6/2014 - 10/4/2014Sept 1, 2014: Student turns in app to OIP ; chooses Oct 4 start date Sept 8: Packet ready to mail US CIS processing Average 2 months (Nov) processing time – receive card 3 months (Dec) processing time - receive card Graduation-may not work yet! Dec
  • 21. How to Apply  Apply for graduation (must be in Goldmine)  Complete the OPT request form:  Start / end dates  Turn in application to OIP
  • 22. Meanwhile, you should:  Complete Form I-765 (http://sa.utep.edu/oip/files/2013/06/4476_001.pdf)  Complete Form G-1145 (http://sa.utep.edu/oip/files/2013/06/g-1145.pdf)  Instructions to follow!   
  • 23. START HERE NEVER FILLED OUT I-765, MARK HERE ALREADY HAD OPT, MARK HERE If you do not have a SSN, leave section blank YOUR SIGNATURE Refers only to form, not to CPT or On-Campus Employment N/A – Only for OPT Extensions N/A SHOULD MATCH PASSPORT YOUR VALID U.S. MAILING ADDRESS MONTH/DAY/YEAR CONT. #11 CONT. #11 DATE ON I-94 LAST CITY WHERE YOU ENTERED THE U.S. STUDENT STUDENT C 3 B YOUR PHONE NUMBER DATE USE I-94 #
  • 24. YOUR LAST NAME YOUR FIRST NAME YOUR MIDDLE NAME Your e-mail address (UTEP or other) YOUR U.S. CELL PHONE NUMBER
  • 25. How to Apply  5 business days later, you will receive an e-mail from an advisor at OIP advising you whether or not you are eligible for OPT  If you are, prepare the following:  Check or money order for $380 payable to “Department of Homeland Security”  2 U.S. sized passport photos (2” x 2”); write your name and I-94# on the back
  • 26. How to Apply, cont’d…  Return to OIP to review & sign your new I-20 and pick up the mailing instructions for your OPT packet  Then, you will:  Make copies of new I-20, I-94 front & back, visa & passport (bio page only)  Attach original signed I-765, G-1145, photos & your payment of $380
  • 27. How to Apply, cont’d…  Mail your application to US CIS, using a traceable method  If using US Postal service, use certified mail with return receipt  Courier mail carriers (DHL, FedEx, etc.)
  • 28. Sample of I-20 with OPT Recommendation
  • 29. OPT Deadlines  Your OPT application must be received at the US CIS processing center NO LATER THAN:  Feb 11, 2014 – Fall 2013 graduates  July 15, 2014 – Spring 2014 graduates  Oct 4, 2014 – Summer 2014 graduates  What does this mean?....
  • 30. VERY IMPORTANT! 1. You must apply to the Office of International Programs FIRST before you can mail your OPT application to US CIS 2. You must allow AT LEAST one week for OIP to process your new I-20...PLUS, time for your OPT application to get from El Paso to Dallas, TX
  • 31. VERY IMPORTANT! OPT Application Deadlines at OIP: Jan 28, 2014 – OIP deadline for fall 2013 graduates July 1, 2014 – OIP deadline for Spring 2013 graduates Sept 20, 2014 - OIP deadline for summer 2014 graduates
  • 32. US CIS Processing  Application received at lockbox facility; application is reviewed; checked for all documentation  If something was not right with the application, a letter & your application will be returned within one week  It is VERY IMPORTANT that your documents are received by US CIS within 30 days of the date printed on the I-20; if you will be unable to do so, please see an advisor at OIP for further assistance
  • 33. US CIS Processing  If G-1145 was filed, student is notified  Application forwarded to Texas Service Center  Student will receive a “Notice of Action” in two to four weeks
  • 34. US CIS Processing  Application assigned to an officer for review and decision  If approved, work permit is created (called Employment Authorization Document, or “EAD” card)  Card mailed to I-765 address  Average processing time is currently approx. 2 months  DO NOT begin to work until you have the card, on the start date (the date may have changed from the one you requested).
  • 35. While Pending OPT Approval  It is okay to travel within the U.S.  VERY IMPORTANT: Are you not graduating as expected? Please see an advisor at OIP.  After the last day of finals in your graduating semester, it is NOT okay to work, not even on campus
  • 36. Once OPT is Approved  OPT card arrives to address on I-765  Contact OIP for the OPT Notification Form or print it from our website (www.sa.utep.edu/oip)  This form must be submitted to OIP in compliance with federal regulations; for reporting employment
  • 37. OPT Card (EAD)
  • 38. OPT EAD Card  Official names: Employment Authorization Document, EAD, Form I-766  Notation on OPT card – “not valid for reentry”  Is on every OPT card issued; means card by itself is not sufficient to reenter US; must have valid passport, visa & I-20 to enter  May reenter with card provided student has a job in the US  http://www.ice.gov/sevis/travel/faq_f2.htm
  • 39. After OPT is Approved Ask yourself: “Have I finished my degree?” If YES, then proceed to use your OPT to the full extent  If NO, then follow the instructions on the next slide…
  • 40. Haven’t finished your degree? See an advisor at OIP as soon as possible for detailed instructions
  • 41. Unemployment During OPT  If you have reached 90 days of unemployment:  You may not use your OPT permit to accept any offers of employment. The card is no longer valid.  Your choices may include:  Beginning another academic program which starts within 5 months (must have I-20 by 90th day)  Applying to change your visa status  Returning to your home country immediately  You do not have a 60 day grace period
  • 42. How to Calculate OPT Unemployment Example 1 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Unemployed from Jan 15 to Apr 15 Jan 15, 2014: Start date on EAD card & no job (unemployed) Apr 15 last (90th day) of permitted unemployment http://www.timeanddate.com/date/duration.html Sept Oct Nov Dec Jan Last day of OPT on EAD Jan 14, 2015
  • 43. How to Calculate OPT Unemployment Example 2 Last day of OPT on EAD Jan 14, 2015 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Jan 15, 2014: Start date on EAD card and first day of Job A May 15: End of Job A http://www.timeanddate.com/date/duration.html Sept Oct How many days of unemployment are still available? Nov Dec Jan Answer: 90 Days
  • 44. How to Calculate OPT Unemployment Example 3 Last day of OPT on EAD Jan 14, 2015 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Unemployed Mar 31 to May 1st Jan 15, 2014: Start date on EAD card and first day of Job A May 2nd: Start of Job B Mar 30: End of Job A http://www.timeanddate.com/date/duration.html 90 – 32= 58 days of unemployment Jul 30th: End of Job B Unemployed July 31st to Aug 14th 58– 15= 43 days of unemployment Aug 15: Start of Job C Sept Oct Sept 30th End of Job C Unemployed Oct 1st to Nov 12th Nov Dec Jan 43– 43= 0 more days of unemployment Nov 12th Last (90th day of Permitted unemployment)
  • 45. Exit / Reentry to the U.S. on OPT  Check your visa!!! :  If you are going to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean islands, you can re-enter the U.S. with an expired F-1 / F- 3 visa as long as your trip is 30 days or less (automatic visa revalidation)  Exception: students from Iran, Syria, Sudan, North Korea or Cuba  If you are going to another country, you MUST have an unexpired F-1 / F-3 visa to re-enter the U.S.
  • 46. Exit / Reentry to the U.S. on OPT When reentering the U.S.:  You are still a student!!! If asked by an immigration official, remember that you are on practical training, and not “going to work.”  The law requires proof that you are returning for purposes of practical training; therefore, you will need a job offer letter, copies of pay stubs, etc.  It is not recommended to exit the U.S. after you have obtained your OPT card without such proof
  • 47. While on OPT  You can work as much as you like  You can work at multiple jobs, but each job must be related to the degree you just completed at UTEP  You can change jobs / companies
  • 48. While on OPT  If you are Mexican, it is fine to live in Mexico and cross for work in the U.S.  If you have an F-3 visa OR applied for OPT with a part- time Border Commuter I-20, you must reside in Mexico during your OPT  Remember, you may only work in jobs related to the degree you just received
  • 49. While on OPT  Some graduate students wish to use the first part of their OPT to finish out their last month of a TA / RA appointment  i.e. Fall graduate:  program end date 12/13/2013, TA appointment is through 12/31/2013  if OPT approved by 12/14/2013 with start date of 12/14/2013, student may work from 12/14/2013 to 12/31/2013 as RA / TA  This is okay as long as RA/TA is major-related
  • 50. May I Use My OPT at UTEP?  Yes, you may use your OPT to work at UTEP as long as the employment is directly related to your degree and you meet HR employment policies for employment  You need to be hired into a regular staff / faculty position at UTEP OR be a volunteer
  • 51. Special Considerations  Duration of status: “grace period” is 60 days after program end date AND end of OPT  Beginning an academic program at another level automatically cancels any remaining OPT  Mexican students: do not use the OPT solely to live in the US; you must be working in US as well
  • 52. OPT Reporting Requirements  Students on OPT must now REPORT their employer / employer address to OIP  Every 6 months, must confirm their employment with OIP  Must continue to report changes in residential address within 10 days of the change
  • 53. OPT Extension  Must have a STEM degree to qualify  ONE-TIME extension of 17 months  OPT extension allows more chances to apply for H-1b  Allows U.S. employers to continue to hire skilled workers in fields with a shortage / in demand (science, technology, engineering & mathematics)  Certificate programs = not eligible
  • 54. OPT Extension  Must be on 1st 12 months of OPT to apply  May apply up to 120 days prior to expiration of current OPT  Must reapply for OPT through OIP and pay the fee a second time ($380)  Employer must be enrolled in E-Verify program (www.uscis.gov/E-Verify)  Employer must report if student leaves job
  • 55. OPT Extension  Student must report employment to OIP  Student must apply for the extension prior to the EXPIRATION DATE of the OPT EAD card  Student allowed to keep working up to 180 days with old EAD until extension application is approved  If extension is denied, then employment stops & 60- day grace period begins
  • 56. OPT Extension  If you are out of town:  Contact OIP, request OPT extension application & instructions e-mailed to you  Submit application to OIP via scan / e-mail  Wait 5 business days  OIP advisor will e-mail you scans of your new I-20, for your review  Once you confirm documents are correct, OIP advisor will mail the documents to you OR you can send a friend / signed letter to pick up for you
  • 57. Transitioning to Employment Visas  NAFTA / TN visa (“Trade National” visa):  For Mexicans & Canadians  Must have job offer to apply  *Select occupations*  Currently granted for 1 year, renewable  Non-immigrant visa  For info and job list, see www.travel.state.gov The Office of International Programs is not able to provide formal advising in regards to work visas. This information is to provide a general orientation to work options in the U.S.
  • 58. Transitioning to Employment Visas H-1b visa:  Employer sponsors student & pays fees  Filing period: starts April 1st of each year (private); anytime of year for public institutions  Status / approval date begins Oct 1st for private companies, on approval date for public institutions  Must show student has skills that are hard to find among U.S. workforce  Granted for 3 years, renewable another 3  Cap (private sector employment only): 65,000 per year; addt’l 20,000 adv. degrees
  • 59. H-1b Cap Gap Relief  What is it? A way to bridge gap between end of OPT & start of H-1b status on Oct 1  Only for students who are petitioned for H-1b for private sector employers  Due to timing issues, only relevant for spring and summer graduates OR fall graduates applying for H-1b during OPT extension period
  • 60. H-1b “Cap-Gap” Relief  Students whose employers file the H-1b petition & request change of status on April 1st and have an RECEIPTED petition:  Have maintained F-1 / F-3 status  Can keep working between end of OPT and Oct 1st  Should request an updated I-20 from OIP  This applies to any major  If H-1b petition denied, then student must stop working once OPT ends & 60-day grace period begins
  • 61. Important Question: What documents do you submit to OIP to apply for the OPT recommendation?
  • 62. Answer: Only the OPT application form, nothing else!!!
  • 63. Your Turn Questions?????? For further information: Ph (915) 747-5664 Union East building, 2nd floor www.sa.utep.edu/oip oip@utep.edu Revised 7/24/2013