International Students
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Employment

Definition: Any service or labor for which wages or other remuneration (compensation, e.g. salary, room, and board) is provided. Sporadic domestic service in a private home is not included.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You are required to have a Social Security number to engage in ANY employment (see the section "Social Security Number" for more information).

Employment for F-1 students is divided into two main categories: On-campus and Practical Training (off-campus). Any F-1 student can engage in on-campus employment.


On-Campus Employment

Definition: Employment on the school premises with any firm that provides direct services to students or with any "educationally affiliated" location. Employment does not have to be directly related to the student's program of study. While engaged in on-campus employment, a student may not work more than twenty (20) hours per week while school is in session. When school is out of session, a student may work in excess of twenty (20) hours per week. United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) authorization is NOT required for on-campus employment. If you are working on campus, please inform the coordinator for international student services/DSO.

For a complete listing of employment opportunities on campus that are available to F-1 Visa Holders, please visit the Center for Careers and Employment's Web page.

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Practical Training

One of the benefits that USCIS provides to qualified F-1 students is Practical Training.

Definition: Employment that is directly related to the student's program of study, the express purpose of which is to provide the student with the opportunity to apply their knowledge and skills (learned in their program of study), as well as provide them with the opportunity to expand their knowledge and skills through "hands on" experiences.

Practical Training is divided into three categories: Curricular Practical Training, Optional Practical Training Before Completion of Studies, and Optional Practical Training Post Completion of Degree. These three categories are described below. It is important that you understand the distinction between the three categories. If after reading this section you are unclear about the distinctions, please see the coordinator for international student services/DSO.

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Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Definition: Employment that is directly related to and an integral part of the established curriculum of your school. This employment is required for degree completion, such as the internships required for programs in the areas of Hospitality, Golf and Plant Sciences, and Veterinary Science Technology. An internship must be part of a required course in the regular curriculum (listed as a course offering in your school's catalog or bulletin).

Examples of such internships include but are not limited to:

  • A Hotel & Resort Management student going to the Disney College Program.
  • A Landscape Contacting student doing working with the grounds crew of a local park.
  • A Veterinary Science Technology student working an animal hospital for the summer.
  • A Golf Course Operations student working at golf course for the summer.
  • A Culinary Arts student working at a restaurant as a cook.

Eligibility - To be eligible for Curricular Practical Training, you must:

  1. Be a matriculated student who has been in lawful status as a full-time student for at least one full academic year.
    • If a student wishes to use the time that they spent studying abroad (as part of a study abroad program) toward meeting the one full academic year requirement, "the student must have spent at least one full academic term in a full course of study in the United States prior to going abroad to study." (8 CFR 214.2)
  2. Have a letter offering internship employment from your employer that includes the following information:
    • Beginning and ending dates of employment.
    • How many hours you will work weekly.
    • Descriptions of duties in sufficient detail to clearly show them as appropriate to meeting the requirements of your internship.
    • Location where employment will take place.
  3. Receive written authorization from the coordinator for international student services/DSO. This authorization is specific to the employer, location and period of time indicated in the previously described letter.
Application Procedure

To apply for CPT you must complete the following steps:

Step 1 - Submit the following documentation to the coordinator for international student services/DSO as early as 90 days but no less than 10 days before you wish to begin employment:

  • Form I-538 (complete section A and sign the form)
  • Your current and all previously issued I-20 IDs
  • Your passport and I-94 card
  • A letter from your faculty advisor indicating that the specific internship is required for degree completion and is approved by the academic department.
  • A letter offering internship employment from your employer (previously described).

Step 2 - After receiving the above listed materials, the coordinator for international student services/DSO will:

  • Review your application for eligibility and if you are eligible, enter all required information into SEVIS, generate and issue you a new I-20 with CPT endorsement.

Points to Consider

  • You are still required to register full-time if you are authorized for curricular practical training during the academic year.
  • While engaging in Practical Training, make certain that you inform the coordinator for international student services/DSO at your institution (the institution who issued you your current form I-20) of any legal changes to your name or any changes to your physical address. (The DSO must have your current physical address.) These changes must be reported to the coordinator for international student services/DSO within ten days of the change.

You may begin CPT only after you have received a SEVIS Form I-20 endorsed by the DSO for CPT.

  • Curricular Practical Training that exceeds 20 hours per week constitutes full-time CPT.
  • F-1 students are not limited in the amount of curricular practical training they may utilize, however if you engage in full-time CPT for twelve months or more prior to graduation, you will not be eligible for optional practical training before or after completion of studies. The exception to this is if the student leaves the United States for five months or more. In this case, the student would need to be issued a new form I-20, and would then have to once again be a matriculated student who has been in lawful status as a full-time student for at least one full academic year.

The CPT application process must be completed prior to the student's departure from campus.

Please contact the International Student Advisor/DSO if you have questions about the requirements for Curricular Practical Training.

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Optional Practical Training (OPT) Before Completion of Degree

Definition: Employment directly related to your major before completion of an academic degree (i.e. an Automotive Technology student working at an Auto Repair Shop) that provides the student with practical training in their field of study.

Eligibility - To be eligible you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must have been enrolled on a full-time basis for at least one academic year.
  • You must currently be in F-1 status.
  • You may not have used 12 months or more of full-time curricular practical training or optional practical training (Part-time CPT does not count towards loss of OPT eligibility).
  • According to the regulations, “A student may be authorized 12 months of practical training, and becomes eligible for another 12 months of practical training when he or she changes to a higher educational level. Students in English language training programs are ineligible for practical training.” (8 CFR 103.7)

Application Procedure – You may apply to CIS for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), up to 90 days prior to the date that you will have been in valid F-1 Status for one full academic year. You may not begin employment until you have received the EAD card. Requests for employment authorization may require three months (or longer) for adjudication. This means that if you want to begin your Optional Practical Training in June, you should submit your completed application to CIS by March at the latest. Please note that the coordinator for international student services/DSO cannot authorize Optional Practical Training. Only CIS can do so by issuing you an Employment Authorization Document.

Important Notes:

  1. You may not begin employment until the date that you will have been in valid F-1 Status for one full academic year.
  2. You are required to have an Employment Authorization Card in your possession before you begin your Optional Practical Training.

To apply for Before Completion OPT, you must complete the following steps:

Step 1 - Make an appointment with the coordinator for international student services/DSO to discuss Practical Training. Please bring with you the documentation listed below:

After reviewing your application, if the coordinator for international student services/DSO determines that you are eligible for OPT, (s)he will recommend that practical training in your major field of study be authorized by CIS. The college will then notify CIS of the recommendation by entering it into SEVIS. A new or initial SEVIS Form I-20 will then be generated for you. This SEVIS Form I-20 will be endorsed for recommended employment authorization. This endorsement will include the beginning and ending dates of your employment. This new SEVIS generated Form I-20 will then be returned to you.

Step 2 – You then need to apply for employment authorization from CIS. There are two options for applying for employment authorization to choose from.

Option #1: You can e-file (electronically file) your Application for Employment Authorization. If you wish to e-file, go to the following URL to review the E-filing Instructions and Eligibility Requirements for Form I-765, E-File Application for Employment Authorization (this is one step in the process): http://uscis.gov/graphics/formsfee/forms/eFiling.htm

Important Note: Carefully review all the information and instructions on this page before you attempt to E-File your Form I-765. In the words of CIS, “ failure to follow these instructions may result in your application or petition being delayed or denied.” Therefore, if you have any questions about the information and instructions, discuss them with the coordinator for international student services/DSO.

Option #2: You can send a “hardcopy” application packet for Employment Authorization to CIS, which is currently the recommended application method. This application packet should be sent to CIS by certified mail, return receipt requested so that you have proof that your application packet was received. The coordinator for international student services/DSO can provide you with the materials needed to do this. Include the following documents in your application packet:

  • Photocopy of completed Form I-538, Certification by Designated School Official.
  • Completed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
    • It is recommended that you sign the Form I-765 in blue ink. This will show the adjudicating officer that the signature is original and not photocopied.
  • The required $380 fee - made payable to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) (the fee was increased for any applications or petitions postmarked or otherwise filed on or after July 30, 2007).
    • A personal check is recommended, since the application receipt number will be printed on the canceled check, but is acceptable only if your name and address are preprinted on the front.
    • Dates on personal checks should be written in mm-dd-yy format (i.e., November 14, 2005 would be written as 11-14-05).
    • CIS does not accept cash.
  • Photocopy of the complete SEVIS Form I-20 with the coordinator for international student services/DSO's recommendation.
  • Photocopies of the identification page of the passport and both sides of the I-94 Card (the white card inside your passport). Do not send your passport to CIS.
  • Photocopies of both sides of any previously issued EAD cards.
  • Two recent passport style photographs of yourself that comply with specific CIS guidelines, outlined on Form M-603.*
    • It is recommended that you print your name and admission number on the back of the photographs using a pencil.
  • Mail your application to the USCIS Dallas Lockbox
    For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Deliveries, use the following address:
    USCIS
    PO Box 660867
    Dallas, TX 75266

    For express mail and courier deliveries, use the following address:
    USCIS
    Attn: AOS
    2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
    Suite 400
    Lewisville, TX 75067

New Option - E-Notification: If you would like to receive an e-mail and/or a text message that your Form I-765 has been accepted at a USCIS Lockbox facility, complete Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance and clip it to the first page of your application.

Important Note: When completing the Forms I-538 and I-765, be certain that you have correctly entered your name. What you may refer to as your “family name,” “last name,” or “surname” should be written first, and what you may refer to as your “given name,” or “first name” should be written second. Entering your name incorrectly can result in a number of problems and/or delays in the processing of you application. Additionally, once the paperwork has been processed, the procedure for correcting your name on your EAD is quite inconvenient!

*Passport style photographs can be taken by most professional photographers. Additionally, the Automobile Association of America (AAA) takes passport style photographs. Please consult the telephone directory for locations. Please review CIS Form M-603, which shows the required poses for these photographs. This form is also available at the OISS. If you do not have Form M-603 with you when you go to have your photograph taken, the specifications for the two photographs are:

  • Head should be positioned directly facing the camera
  • Photo should capture from slightly above top of hair to middle of chest
  • Eyes should be open and looking at the camera
  • Eyeglasses should be worn if normally used by the subject
  • Glare on eyeglasses can usually be avoided with a slight upward or downward tilt of the head
  • Background should be plain white or off-white
  • Include headpieces if worn daily for religious purposes; they should not obscure or cast shadows on the eyes or any other part of the face
  • All photos must be of just the person
  • All photos of the person must be identical.
  • All photos must meet the specifications for full frontal/passport photos
  • All photos must not be more than 30 days old when an application is filed

When the processing of your application is complete, and if you are authorized for employment, CIS will mail the EAD card to the address indicated on the I-765 form. If you are moving to a different location during the summer, you should provide an address where you will be sure to receive your mail.

Important Notes: 1) CIS will NOT accept incorrect photographs! If the photographs are incorrect your application for Employment Authorization will be “kicked back” to you, further delaying your receipt of Employment Authorization. 2) When CIS has begun processing your application, they will send you a Notice of Action. This is a receipt which informs you that the application has been received and is being processed. The Notice will have an “application receipt number.” Keep this Notice in a safe place. Without the receipt number you will not be able to check on the status of your case.

Processing time - Currently, the entire process for receiving employment authorization is taking more than six weeks. If you have an application receipt number, you can check the status of your case online.

Points to Consider

  • The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) define employment as "compensation for services." If you are receiving no pay or other compensation for your work, as in an unpaid internship, you do not need authorization to work. If you have any questions, please contact the coordinator for international student services/DSO.
  • You are not allowed to work until you receive the EAD from CIS!
  • While engaging in Practical Training, make certain that you inform the coordinator for international student services/DSO at your institution (the institution who issued you your current Form I-20) of any legal changes to your name or any changes to you physical address (The DSO must have your current physical address). These changes must be reported to the coordinator for international student services/DSO within ten days of the change.
  • Changing your mailing address while your application for Employment Authorization is being processed can result in a delay in receiving and/or your EAD being lost in the mail.
    • When completing the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, it is recommended that you use a mailing address that you know will be valid for a minimum of sixty days, and if possible, do not change your mailing address until you have received your EAD.
  • If you are fulfilling a requirement for your degree by completing a paid internship, you may be eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT). There are several advantages to accepting Curricular Practical Training. Contact the coordinator for international student services/DSO for information about this option.
  • “Authorization to engage in optional practical training (OPT) employment is automatically terminated when the student transfers to another school or begins study at another educational level” (8 CFR 214.2). More specifically, OPT is automatically terminated when the student is registered in SEVIS at the transfer institution at the commencement of studies.
  • You are not allowed to work until you have received the EAD Card from CIS.
  • According to the regulations, “A student may be authorized 12 months of practical training [per educational level], and becomes eligible for another 12 months of practical training when he or she changes to a higher educational level. Students in English language training programs are ineligible for practical training” (8 CFR 214.2).
  • If CIS authorizes you to work for some period of time under the provisions of Optional Practical Training, and for whatever reason you do not use some or all of the time you have been authorized to work, you will lose the “unused” time you have been authorized to work.
    • Examples of this include:
      1) If you have been authorized to work full-time for 3 months during the summer vacation, and you only work for 1.5 months and travel the other 1.5 months, you will lose 1.5 months of OPT.
      2) If you have been authorized to work full-time for 3 months during the summer vacation, and you do not work at all because you are unable to find employment, you will lose the 3 months of OPT.
  • If you engage in Before Completion of degree OPT, you will not be eligible for the full 12 months of Optional Practical Training after you graduate. Thus, plan carefully if you would like to work after completion of your academic program.
  • If the CIS adjudicating officer feels that additional information is needed in order to complete the review of your application, you will be sent a Request for Evidence (RFE), commonly referred to as a “Blue Sheet” since they are on blue paper.
    • Please note that the only circumstance in which CIS is required to issue an RFE is when initial evidence (evidence that is specifically indicated in the regulations, on the application or petition, or on accompanying instructions) is missing from the application. Issuance of an RFE is discretionary. This means that if your application is complete, but the evidence provided is insufficient to support your application, it can be denied without an RFE being issued beforehand.
  • Routine security checks are performed on all petitions/applications received by the Vermont Service Center, which may result in adjudication delays. Due to manpower issues, the Service Center is unable to complete these security checks quickly. File your application in a timely fashion.
  • Keep photocopies of all the documents that you submit to CIS.
  • Make sure that all documents are properly signed.
  • Make sure that the proper fee is enclosed.
  • Use the current (4/06) version of the Form I-765.
  • Make sure that the Form I-765 is signed legibly, as it must be scannable.
  • If submitting a Form I-765 Signature Card, use black ink when signing, and make certain that your signature fits within the box, as it must be scannable.

Important Note: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is now requiring institutions to enter information in SEVIS regarding students’ employment while engaging in OPT. Therefore, while you are on OPT you are required to report your employment information to the Office of International Student Services at Hudson Valley Community College. This information includes:

  • Who you are working for
  • The physical address where you are working
  • Any change, interruption or loss of employment
  • Your living and mailing address

Failure to report this information to the Office of International Student Services at Hudson Valley Community College may have a negative impact on your SEVIS record and/or your immigration status!

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Optional Practical Training (OPT) Post Completion of Studies

Definition: Employment directly related to your major before completion of an academic degree (i.e. an Automotive Technology student working at an Auto Repair Shop) that provides the student with practical training in their field of study.

Eligibility - To be eligible you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must have been enrolled on a full time basis for at least one academic year.
  • You must currently be in F-1 status.
  • You may not have used 12 months or more of full-time curricular practical training or optional practical training (Part-time CPT does not count towards loss of OPT eligibility).
  • According to the regulations, “A student may be authorized 12 months of practical training, and becomes eligible for another 12 months of practical training when he or she changes to a higher educational level. Students in English language training programs are ineligible for practical training” (8 CFR 103.7).

Application Procedure – You may apply to CIS for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), during the period from ninety (90) days before the program end-date (provided that you will have been in valid F-1 Status for one full academic year) and up to sixty (60) days after the program end-date [as long as it is filed within thirty (30) days of the date the PDSO enters the recommendation for Optional Practical Training into SEVIS].

  • The ability to apply for an EAD up to (60) days after the program end-date is new as of April 8, 2008.
  • You may not begin employment until you have received the EAD card. Requests for employment authorization may require three months (or longer) for adjudication.
    • This means that if you want to begin your Optional Practical Training in June, you should submit your completed application to CIS by March (at the latest). Please note that the coordinator for international student services/DSO cannot authorize Optional Practical Training. Only CIS can do so by issuing you an Employment Authorization Document.

Important Notes:

  1. you may not begin employment until the date that you will have been in valid F-1 Status for one full academic year.
  2. You are required to have an Employment Authorization Card in your possession before you begin your Optional Practical Training.

To apply for Before Completion OPT, you must complete the following steps:

Step 1 - Make an appointment with the coordinator for international student services/DSO to discuss Practical Training. Please bring with you the documentation listed below:

After reviewing your application, if the coordinator for international student services/DSO determines that you are eligible for OPT, (s)he will recommend that practical training in your major field of study be authorized by CIS. The College will then notify CIS of the recommendation by entering it into SEVIS. A new or initial SEVIS Form I-20 will then be generated for you. This SEVIS Form I-20 will be endorsed for recommended employment authorization. This endorsement will include the beginning and ending dates of your employment. This new SEVIS generated Form I-20 will then be returned to you.

Step 2 – You then need to apply for employment authorization from CIS. There are two options for applying for employment authorization to choose from.

Option #1: You can e-file (electronically file) your Application for Employment Authorization. If you wish to e-file, go to the following URL to review the E-filing Instructions and Eligibility Requirements for Form I-765, E-File Application for Employment Authorization (this is one step in the process): http://uscis.gov/graphics/formsfee/forms/eFiling.htm

Important Note: Carefully review all the information and instructions on this page before you attempt to E-File your Form I-765. In the words of CIS, “ failure to follow these instructions may result in your application or petition being delayed or denied.” Therefore, if you have any questions about the information and instructions, discuss them with the coordinator for international student services/DSO.

You can send a “hardcopy” application packet for Employment Authorization to CIS, which is currently the recommended application method. This application packet should be sent to CIS by certified mail, return receipt requested so that you have proof that your application packet was received. The coordinator for international student services/DSO can provide you with the materials needed to do this. Include the following documents in your application packet:

  • Photocopy of completed Form I-538, Certification by Designated School Official.
  • Completed Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
    • It is recommended that you sign the Form I-765 in blue ink. This will show the adjudicating officer that the signature is original and not photocopied.
  • The required $380 fee - made payable to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) (the fee was increased for any applications or petitions postmarked or otherwise filed on or after July 30, 2007).
    • A personal check is recommended, since the application receipt number will be printed on the canceled check, but is acceptable only if your name and address are preprinted on the front.
    • Dates on personal checks should be written in mm-dd-yy format (i.e., November 14, 2005 would be written as 11-14-05).
    • CIS does not accept cash.
  • Photocopy of the complete SEVIS Form I-20 with the coordinator for international student services/DSO's recommendation.
  • Photocopies of the identification page of the passport and both sides of the I-94 Card (the white card inside your passport). Do not send your passport to CIS.
  • Photocopies of both sides of any previously issued EAD cards.
  • Two recent passport style photographs of yourself that comply with specific CIS guidelines, outlined on Form M-603.*
    • It is recommended that you print your name and admission number on the back of the photographs using a pencil.
  • Mail your application to the USCIS Dallas Lockbox
    For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Deliveries, use the following address:
    USCIS
    PO Box 660867
    Dallas, TX 75266

    For express mail and courier deliveries, use the following address:
    USCIS
    Attn: AOS
    2501 S. State Hwy. 121 Business
    Suite 400
    Lewisville, TX 75067

New Option - E-Notification: If you would like to receive an e-mail and/or a text message that your Form I-765 has been accepted at a USCIS Lockbox facility, complete Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance and clip it to the first page of your application.

Important Note: When completing the Forms I-538 and I-765, be certain that you have correctly entered your name. What you may refer to as your “family name,” “last name,” or “surname” should be written first, and what you may refer to as your “given name,” or “first name” should be written second. Entering your name incorrectly can result in a number of problems and/or delays in the processing of you application. Additionally, once the paperwork has been processed, the procedure for correcting your name on your EAD is quite inconvenient!

*Passport style photographs can be taken by most professional photographers. Additionally, the Automobile Association of America (AAA) takes passport style photographs. Please consult the telephone directory for locations. Please review CIS Form M-603, which shows the required poses for these photographs. This form is also available at the OISS. If you do not have Form M-603 with you when you go to have your photograph taken, the specifications for the two photographs are:

  • Head should be positioned directly facing the camera
  • Photo should capture from slightly above top of hair to middle of chest
  • Eyes should be open and looking at the camera
  • Eyeglasses should be worn if normally used by the subject
  • Glare on eyeglasses can usually be avoided with a slight upward or downward tilt of the head
  • Background should be plain white or off-white
  • Include headpieces if worn daily for religious purposes; they should not obscure or cast shadows on the eyes or any other part of the face
  • All photos must be of just the person
  • All photos of the person must be identical.
  • All photos must meet the specifications for full frontal/passport photos
  • All photos must not be more than 30 days old when an application is filed

When the processing of your application is complete, and if you are authorized for employment, CIS will mail the EAD card to the address indicated on the I-765 form. If you are moving to a different location during the summer, you should provide an address where you will be sure to receive your mail.

Important Notes:

  1. CIS will NOT accept incorrect photographs! If the photographs are incorrect your application for Employment Authorization will be “kicked back” to you, further delaying your receipt of Employment Authorization.
  2. When CIS has begun processing your application, they will send you a Notice of Action. This is a receipt which informs you that the application has been received and is being processed. The Notice will have an “application receipt number.” Keep this Notice in a safe place ! Without the receipt number you will not be able to check on the status of your case!

Processing time - Currently, the entire process for receiving employment authorization is taking more than 6 weeks. If you have an application receipt number, you can check the status of your case online.

Points to Consider

  • You are required to have an Employment Authorization Card in your possession before you begin your Optional Practical Training!
  • If the need or desire arises, you are allowed to change employers during the period of authorized practical training. However, your new employment must continue to be directly related to your major/field of study and be appropriate to your educational level (i.e. a student who has completed a BBA in Restaurant and Food Service Management should not be working at a restaurant as a "Bus Person").
  • You are not allowed to work until you receive the EAD from CIS!
  • If you are transferring out of the current school that recommended OPT, you must be able to begin classes [at the institution that you are transferring to] within 5 months of transferring out of the school that recommended you for post-completion OPT, or by the date that the OPT authorization ends, whichever comes first.
  • While engaging in Practical Training, make certain that you inform the coordinator for international student services/DSO at your institution (the institution who issued you your current Form I-20) of any legal changes to your name or any changes to you physical address (The DSO must have your current physical address). These changes must be reported to the coordinator for international student services/DSO within ten days of the change.
  • Changing your mailing address while your application for Employment Authorization is being processed can result in a delay in receiving and/or your EAD being lost in the mail.
    • When completing the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, it is recommended that you use a mailing address that you know will be valid for a minimum of sixty days, and if possible, do not change your mailing address until you have received your EAD.
  • You must apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) during the period from 90 days before but no later than the day before your completion of studies (not your graduation date). More specifically, your application paperwork must be received by the Vermont Service Center before your completion of studies!
  • You are considered to be maintaining your F-1 status for 60 days following the expiration date of your practical training. This time is allowed you to either depart from the United States or change to another status. Employment is not permitted during this 60-day period.
  • If you leave the U.S. during your authorized period of practical training, you may return for the remainder of the authorized period with the following documents: I-20 endorsed for re-entry within the last 6 months, a valid F-1 entry visa plus a valid passport, a letter from your employer (indicating where you work, your job title and your beginning and ending dates of employment) and your EAD Card.
  • “Authorization to engage in optional practical training (OPT) employment is automatically terminated when the student transfers to another school or begins study at another educational level” (8 CFR 214.2).
  • If after completing your degree you leave the United States before you receive the EAD Card from CIS Service Center, you will relinquish your application for employment authorization and will therefore be unable to return to the United States with F-1 student status.
  • If CIS authorizes you to work for some period of time under the provisions of Optional Practical Training, and for whatever reason you do not use some or all of the time you have been authorized to work, you will lose the “unused” time you have been authorized to work.
    • Examples of this include:
      1) If you have been authorized to work full-time for 3 months during the summer vacation, and you only work for 1.5 months and travel the other 1.5 months, you will lose 1.5 months of OPT.
      2) If you have been authorized to work full-time for 3 months during the summer vacation, and you do not work at all because you are unable to find employment, you will lose the 3 months of OPT.
  • If the CIS adjudicating officer feels that additional information is needed in order to complete the review of your application, you will be sent a Request for Evidence (RFE), commonly referred to as a “Blue Sheet” since they are on blue paper.
  • Please note that the only circumstance in which CIS is required to issue an RFE is when initial evidence (evidence that is specifically indicated in the regulations, on the application or petition, or on accompanying instructions) is missing from the application. Issuance of an RFE is discretionary. This means that if your application is complete, but the evidence provided is insufficient to support your application, it can be denied without an RFE being issued beforehand.
  • Routine security checks are performed on all petitions/applications received by the Vermont Service Center, which may result in adjudication delays. Due to manpower issues, the Service Center is unable to complete these security checks quickly.
  • Keep photocopies of all the documents that you submit to CIS.
  • Make sure that all documents are properly signed.
  • Make sure that the proper fee is enclosed.
  • Use the current (4/06) version of the Form I-765.
  • Make sure that the Form I-765 is signed legibly, as it must be scannable.
  • If submitting a Form I-765 Signature Card, use black ink when signing, and make certain that your signature fits within the box, as it must be scannable.

Important Note: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is now requiring institutions to enter information in SEVIS regarding students’ employment while engaging in OPT. Therefore, while you are on OPT you are required to report your employment information to the Office of International Student Services at Hudson Valley Community College. This information includes:

  • Who you are working for
  • The physical address where you are working
  • Any change, interruption or loss of employment
  • Your living and mailing address

Failure to report this information to the Office of International Student Services at Hudson Valley Community College may have a negative impact on your SEVIS record and/or your immigration status!

Important Notes – Regarding limited periods of unemployment to maintain Lawful Status (directly adapted from information provided by NAFSA): 1) During Post-Completion Optional Practical Training, maintaining lawful F-1 status is dependent upon employment.; 2) Students may not accrue an aggregate of more than 90 days of unemployment during any Post-Completion Optional Practical Training carried out under the initial Post-Completion Optional Practical Training authorization; and 3) Students granted a 17-month Post-Completion Optional Practical Training extension may not accrue an aggregate of more than 120 days of unemployment during the total 29-month Post-Completion Optional Practical Training period.

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Optional Practical Training (OPT) Post Completion of Studies Extension to 29 months for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Students

In most instances, F-1 OPT is limited to (12) months However, effective April 8, 2008, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security published the interim final rule indicating, that for certain STEM degree holders, OPT can be extended by (17) months, thus providing the student with a total of (29) months of OPT. This provision applies to STEM degree holders in the following fields:

  • Actuarial Science. CIP Code 52.1304.
  • Computer Science Applications:
    • CIP Codes 11.xxxx (except Data Entry/Microcomputer Applications, which are CIP Codes 11.06xx)
  • Engineering. CIP Codes 14.xxxx.
  • Engineering Technologies. CIP Codes 15.xxxx.
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences. CIP Codes 26.xxxx.
  • Mathematics and Statistics. CIP Codes 27.xxxx.
  • Military Technologies. CIP Codes 29.xxxx.
  • Physical Sciences. CIP Codes 40.xxxx.
  • Science Technologies. CIP Codes 41.xxxx.
  • Medical Scientist (MS, PhD). CIP Code 51.1401

“Specifically excluded from the above codes, however, are all CIP codes ending in xx99, which are "catch-all" categories, usually designated by "Other" in the CIP lists. Degrees associated with CIP codes ending in xx99 are not eligible for the 17-month extension. A full list of CIP Codes is available online at Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP 2000)” (NAFSA).

Eligibility - To be eligible for the (17) month extension, you must meet the additional criteria:

  • You must be currently participating in a period of standard OPT, working for a U.S. employer in a job directly related to the student’s major area of study.
  • You must have successfully completed a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in a field on the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List, from a SEVIS-certified college or university.
  • You must have a job offer from an employer registered with the E-Verify employment verification system.
  • You may not have previously received a (17) month OPT extension after earning a STEM degree.
  • The Coordinator for International Student Services/PDSO must recommend the (17) month OPT extension in SEVIS, after first verifying that the student is eligible, certifying that the student's degree is on the STEM Designated Degree Program List, and ensuring that the student is aware of his or her responsibilities for maintaining status while on OPT.
  • It will be necessary for you to apply for the (17) month extension on Form I-765 with fee.
    • Complete item #16 as follows: (c)(3)(C).
  • If you file an application for the extension in a timely fashion, you will be able to continue employment while the extension application is pending, until a final decision on the Form I-765 or for 180 days, whichever comes first.
  • The employer must agree to report the termination or departure of the student to the Coordinator for International Student Services/PDSO or through "any other means or process identified by DHS." An employer must consider a worker to have departed when the employer knows the student has left employment, or if the student has not reported for work for a period of five (5) consecutive business days without the employer's consent.
  • Applications for the 17-month STEM extension must be filed before the current EAD expires.

Important Notes - Regarding limited periods of unemployment to maintain lawful Status: 1) During Post-Completion Optional Practical Training, maintaining lawful F-1 status is dependent upon employment; 2) Students may not accrue an aggregate of more than 90 days of unemployment during any Post-Completion Optional Practical Training carried out under the initial Post-Completion Optional Practical Training authorization; and 3) Students granted a 17-month Post-Completion Optional Practical Training extension may not accrue an aggregate of more than 120 days of unemployment during the total 29-month Post-Completion Optional Practical Training period (This section is directly adapted from information provided by NAFSA).

Important Note: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is now requiring institutions to enter information in SEVIS regarding students’ employment while engaging in OPT. Therefore, while you are on OPT you are required to report your employment information to the Office of International Student Services at Hudson Valley Community College. Failure to do so may have a negative impact on your SEVIS record and/or your immigration status! This information includes:

  • Who you are working for
  • The physical address where you are working
  • Any change, interruption or loss of employment
  • Your living and mailing address

Additionally, STEM students who are have an OPT Post Completion of Studies Extension to 29 months “Must make a validation report to the DSO every six months starting from the date the extension begins and ending when the student's F-1 status ends, the student changes educational levels at the same school, the student transfers to another school, or the 17-month OPT extension ends, whichever is first. The validation is a confirmation that the student's name and address, employer name and address, and/or loss of employment are current and accurate. The report is due to the DSO within 10 business days of each reporting date” (directly adapted from information provided by NAFSA).

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Special Categories of Employment

There are two additional categories of employment for F-1 students: Severe Economic Hardship and Special Relief. Simply stated, eligibility for both types of employment require the student to encounter financial situations that are completely beyond the control of the student and could not possibly have been predicted or foreseen by the student. Since the discussion of both categories is quite lengthy and detailed, please see the International Student Advisor/DSO if you feel you require more information.

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