OPT and CPT Concerns


Things to do and avoid for OPT and CPT Employment (F-1 Student Visas)

The holder of this visa can possibly receive the so-called Request for Evidence (RFE) from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Most of the time, this has something to do with employment for time used up in Optional Practical Training (OPT). This may also have something to do with Curricular Practical Training (CPT). There are some tips just to ensure that you are maintaining your F-1 student visa status properly. You also need to prove this.

What are the things to do?

Be careful of schools offering Curricular Practical Training before you have even been enrolled full time for one school year. However, there is always an exception to the rule. In case the CPT is an essential or necessary component of the student degree program, immediate participation is called for. If you opt for participation in CPT prior to a full year of academic studies, you should be prepared to explain everything. Likewise, prove its necessity as well as the need for immediate participation.

* It is essential to maintain documentation of all jobs worked during CPT and/or OPT. File all letters of offer, employment verification, salary statements, information of employee benefits, and other important papers. Keep a record of your job title, duration of contract, contact details for supervisors, and accurate description of tasks and duties. You must describe the relation of each job to your course program.

* See to it that you do not go beyond three months of unemployment for initial OPT or 120 days for those who secure a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) extension.

* All students covered by this must report to the college or university within 10 days of a change in jobs or office address.

* File your STEM extension application at least 90 days before the OPT expires. This is the requirement if you are eligible.

* Make sure to render service for a minimum of 20 hours weekly. This is the case for an E-Verify employer with paid position that is related directly to the STEM degree for as long as you are on STEM extension.


What are the things to avoid?

* Do not accumulate more than 90 days of unemployment or 120 days for those with STEM extension.

* Do not apply for or work in a position which is not related to your program.

* Do not work for any employer without giving formal notice to your school.

* Do not work for employers that are NOT E-Verified during your STEM extension.

Abide by these guidelines. These can help prove that you preserved your F-1 student visa status. The policies of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are very stringent. In the case of overseas students, it is imperative for them to comply with requirements and documentation to stay away from more serious issues.

Marian Moore – Social Media Manager

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