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Students who are interested in applying for OPT must attend an ISAO workshop that will explain in detail the process of applying for OPT, reporting on OPT, what kinds of work are permissible, and other important OPT regulations. These workshops will be announced in the ISAO weekly announcements, so be sure to check them!
Once students have attended the OPT workshop, they should make an appointment with the immigration liaison at the ISAO to go over their application. The immigration liaison will explain the application and make sure that it has been correctly filled. Once the application has been reviewed by the immigration liaison and the international student advisor, the student will receive a pre-addressed envelope to mail the application to USCIS. USCIS will send a receipt for the application with a tracking number within a few weeks of receiving the documents. Students can use this number to track the status of their applications.
Once the application is approved, USCIS will issue an EAD card. It will arrive at the ISAO. For students in Kirksville, they can pick it up at the ISAO office. ISAO staff will make a copy of the card and ask the student to sign and date the copy. For students outside of Kirksville, the ISAO will mail the card to the student at a cost of $5-$10.
F-1 status continues through the OPT period.
All employment must stop when the end date on the EAD card is reached, but may remain in the U.S. for the 60-day grace period.
Employment may begin once
The EAD card is not employer specific, so students may change employers at will. However, employment must be directly related to the field of studies (major). Any employment outside a student's field of study is unauthorized and is a substantive violation of F-1 status.
All students on OPT are required to update any changes in address, or employment (including any changes in location of employment) using the OPT Update Form within 10 days of any change.
For students who wish to retain their Lewer insurance coverage, they should fill out the Insurance Application for OPT and return it the ISAO.
Students are advised not to travel outside the US while they are waiting for employment authorization. Regulations state that students may return to the US "to resume employment." Some students might encounter difficulties re-entering the US if they have graduated and are trying to return to the US without an EAD card. Once a student has an EAD card, we suggest that they travel with a letter from their employer confirming that they will resume employment.
OPT students are expected to be employed in their field of study during OPT, and are required to submit employer information to the ISAO. The maximum period of unemployment is 90 days (STEM extensions provide an additional 30 days).
It is recommended that OPT students keep documentation of all employment. In the future, students may be asked to provide proof that their employment during OPT was in their field of study.
Specifically, students should maintain evidence — for each job — of the position held, proof of the duration of that position, the job title, contact information for the supervisor or manager, and description of the work
If it is not clear from the job description that the work is related to their degree, the ISAO highly recommend that students obtain a signed letter from the employer's hiring official, supervisor, or manager stating how the student's degree is related to the work performed, provide this letter to the ISAO and keep in student's personal records
All OPT employment, including post-completion OPT, must be in a job that is related to the student's degree program.
This employment may include the following (does not apply to students on a STEM extension):
Students are required to report changes in employment to the ISAO as soon as possible. We recommend reporting changes within 10 business days of the change to avoid situations where a DHS official may determine a student to be out of status.
To report periods of employment along with employer information, use the OPT Update and enter "unemployed" in the employment fields. If employment information changes, revisit the web form to provide an update. The ISAO will enter this data into SEVIS.
Students on standard post-completion OPT are only allowed a total of 90 days of unemployment. Students on STEM extensions are allowed an additional thirty days upon approval the STEM extension.
Students unable to find employment that meets the definition of OPT employment may have the following options:
Students deciding to abandon their OPT before their end and leave the U.S. must notify the ISAO so we can end their SEVIS record. This can be done by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to provide the information regarding the student will leave and what the last date of work will be. The ISAO will end the student's SEVIS record effective the date they indicate they plan to leave the U.S. or the date of notification, whichever is later. If a student fails to notify the ISAO, he or she may continue to be billed for health insurance.
During the period of OPT authorization, some students decide to apply to another academic program, either at Truman or another university. Once an OPT student has been admitted to another degree program, it is important to discuss the situation with an advisor at the the ISAO, as the issuance of a new I-20 will effect/terminate a student's OPT. Students who have been admitted to a degree program at another university should notify the ISAO and provide proof of admission in order to have their SEVIS record transferred to the new university. Once the SEVIS record is transferred, The new university can create the new I-20. Students should keep in mind that transferring will immediately end their OPT. Once Truman transfers their record, Truman will no longer have access to that record and will not be able to get the record back if the student should change their mind.
In order to maintain F-1 status, a new I-20 for change of academic level, new degree program, or transfer must be issued before the end of the 60 day grace period.
Students whose immigration status changes (e.g. from F-1 to H-1B, F-2, or J-1) during the period of OPT will be able to continue OPT employment until the change of status is approved. Students who are no longer in F-1 status are no longer eligible for OPT
Some students may be eligible for an extension of OPT and F-1 status due to the new Cap Gap Relief rules. If a student's H-1B petition was submitted before the student's OPT end date, the OPT will automatically be extended until USCIS approves/denies the petition. If the H-1B petition was submitted after the student's OPT end date, but during the grace period, the student's work authorization will remain terminated, but their F-1 status will be extended until the petition has been approved/denied.
Changes in federal regulations from April 2008 have created an opportunity for extension of OPT for F-1 students in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). The ICE STEM Extension website can provide more information. To apply for a STEM extension, click here
Still have questions? These resources might help:
Iso01@truman.edu - Ask the ISAO!