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Last updated: June 2015

University of California Berkeley

the international student advisors at

PowerPoint presentation adapted from work by

Office of International Programs


San Francisco State University

Online Application and Information Workshop

Optional Practical Training

Completing I-765

Completing OPT Authorization Form

OPT application materials

Section 3: How to Apply For Post-Completion


Practical Training
How to Apply

Determine your Post-Completion authorization


start date
Typical Scenarios

Determine your requested authorization start


date Points to consider

Determine your requested Post-Completion


authorization start date

Determine your requested Pre-Completion


authorization start date

When to Apply (Timeline for Post-Completion)

When to Apply (Timeline for Pre-Completion)

When to Apply

Section 2: When to Apply For PCPT

Duration of OPT

You can click this icon anytime to go


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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

OPT and SEVIS

Days of Unemployment

Types of OPT Employment

OPT is Now Dependent on Employment

Applying for an F1 Visa While on OPT

Traveling Abroad on OPT

Mandatory Reporting Requirements While on PCPT

Employment Authorization Document (EAD card)

If You Get a Request for Evidence (RFE)

Checking the Status of Your Application

Notice of Action from USCIS

Section 4: Receiving EAD

Application Deadline

USCIS Mailing Address

Mail your OPT Application

Photo Specifications - 7 Steps to


Successful Photos

Who is Eligible for OPT

Types of OPT

Photo Specifications FAQ

Photo Specifications

What is OPT

Section 1: OPT Overview

Table of Contents

Duration of OPT

Types of OPT

Who is Eligible for OPT

What is OPT

OPT Overview

Section 1:

Jobs must be directly related to your current major (not


minor)

OPT must be recommended by the Office of


International Programs (OIP) and approved by the
United States Citizenship and Immigration Services
(USCIS)

Provides an opportunity for F-1 students to apply


knowledge acquired from their academic program to a
work experience in their major field of study

A 12-month temporary employment authorization, a


benefit of the F1 student status

What is Optional Practical Training (OPT)?

Have not already utilized an equivalent of 12 months of


OPT work authorization in current degree level

Have not completed more than 364 days of full-time


Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Have been enrolled full-time for at least one full


academic year prior to submitting an OPT application
(Year enrollment may be fulfilled at SF State, a previous
university, or between multiple universities)

Be in good academic standing, defined as a minimum


G.P.A. of 2.0 (undergraduate students) or 3.0 (graduate
students)

Be in valid F-1 status

Be enrolled full-time (at least 12 units for Undergraduate


students and 8 units for Graduate students), or has an
approved Reduced Course Load due to Completion or
Thesis/Project/Recital/Oral Defense/Exam

Who is Eligible for OPT? You must

3.

2.

1.

Thesis OPT
Takes place after you have completed all of your
course requirements except for your thesis

While School-in-Session OPT


Takes place during Spring or Fall semester while you
are studying full-time, part-time work only

Vacation OPT
Takes place during your summer or winter vacation,
can be part-time or full-time

Pre-Completion OPT
(Work permission before degree completion)

Types of OPT

1.

PCPT work authorization can only be full-time.

Post-Completion Practical Training (PCPT)


An opportunity to gain actual employment
experience in your chosen profession for a
maximum of one year (12 months). Its purpose is to
"round off" or complement your academic work.

Post-Completion OPT
(Work permission after degree completion)

Types of OPT

Example: If you were granted 4 months of part-time Schoolin-Session OPT, you will have 10 months of full-time OPT left.

Example: If you were granted 12 months of PCPT after your


bachelor's degree then you are still eligible for apply for 12
months of OPT at the masters degree level.

A total of 12 months of OPT is available for each level of


study.

Duration of OPT

Typical Scenarios

Determine your OPT authorization start date

Determine your OPT authorization start date

When to Apply (Timeline)

When to Apply

When to Apply For Post-Completion OPT

Section 2:

10

Submit your application at least 90 days before your requested


work authorization start date

Program Completion Date is NOT the date your graduation


application is reviewed/approved, nor the date you receive the
diploma

Program Completion Date is the date you complete all your


program requirements:
The last day of final exams (Undergraduate Students)
The day you submit the thesis/final project
The day you do your oral defense
The day you give your final recital

You can submit your application to the USCIS up to 90 days before


your Program Completion Date or during the 60-day grace period
after the Program Completion Date.

Post-Completion OPT:

Pre-Completion OPT:

When to Apply

11

All Pre-Completion must


end on or before Program
Completion date

One academic year


requirement meet

Program Completion
Date

Period allowed for Pre-Completion OPT

Apply 90 days
before requested work
authorization start
date

When to Apply
(Timeline for Pre-Completion OPT)

12

Last possible day


to start OPT

60 days

OIP stops
accepting OPT
apps 10 days
before the 60th
day

Program Completion Date


&
First possible day to start OPT

90 days

Apply up to
90 days
before program
completion
date

USCIS must
receive apps
by the 60th
day

Employment must end 12


months from start date, or
within 14 months of degree
completion

When to Apply
(Timeline for Post-Completion OPT)

13

You can choose any date from your degree program


completion date through the 60th day after the
program completion date.

If you apply for a period of Pre-Completion OPT and you


then still have part of your 12 month total remaining, you
must submit application and application fee again for
PCPT

Students are advised to apply for Pre-Completion OPT at


least 90 days before requested work authorization start
date. Plan early!

Pre-Completion OPT must end on or before the Program


Completion Date

Students are allowed to apply for Pre-Completion OPT


anytime during the year, as long as they are eligible for
OPT.

Determine your requested PreCompletion authorization start date

14

You cannot change your start date once the OPT


application and I-20 have been mailed to the USCIS

If you receive the EAD before your start date has


arrived, you cannot work until the start date (noted on
the EAD). You cannot start working until you have
received the EAD and your start date is current

The USCIS must receive your application no later than 30


days after your OPT I-20 has been issued by OIP or your
application will be denied

It can take up to 3 months for USCIS to process and mail


your EAD to you

for both Pre and Post-Completion OPT applicants

Determine your requested authorization


start date Points to consider

15

As long as you have applied for PCPT, your F-1 status


remains valid while you are waiting for the EAD even if
there is a gap between your completion date and the
start date of PCPT. During this gap, you can remain in
the U.S. or travel abroad and re-enter as an F-1.

If you leave the U.S. during your 60-day grace period


and you havent applied for PCPT, you lose your
opportunity to apply for PCPT

You can submit your PCPT application to the USCIS up


to 90 days before the completion date of your program
or during the 60-day grace period after completion

Your requested PCPT start date can be no later than 60


days beyond your degree completion date

for Post-Completion OPT (PCPT) applicants only

Determine your requested authorization


start date Points to consider

16

Jan
18

Feb

OPT application
mailed to USCIS

March

April

May
1st

EAD
received

May
18

travel home

program
completion
date

June
15

EAD start
date
12 months of OPT

She receives the EAD on May 1. Her employer is pleased to see proof of the
work permission early even though she cannot start working until June 15, as
noted on the EAD. Yoko decides to go home for one month to celebrate
her program completion.

On Feb.18, Yoko mails her application for PCPT to the USCIS. She is
completing her program on May 18 and chooses June 15 as the PCPT start
date because she has a job offer beginning that day.

Scenario 1:
Student with a job offer submits her PCPT application early

Determine your requested PCPT


authorization start date Typical Scenarios

17

Jan

Feb

March

April

May
18

June
15

July
17

August
15

OPT application
Requested start EAD
program
mailed to USCIS
date
received
completion date

September
15

He knows that he will be legal to stay in the U.S. as long as he has submitted
the OPT application on time. He finally mails his PCPT application on June
15. On July 17, Ben still hasnt received his EAD, so he cant work. Ben
receives his EAD on September 15 and it expires the following year on July
16. Ben has lost 13 days of his 12 month PCPT because his application was
approved after the latest available PCPT start date.

Ben doesnt have a job offer or time to search for one until after he finishes
school. He chooses the latest date possible to start his PCPT--July 17 --which is the 60th day after his completion on May 18.

Scenario 2:
Student with no job offer submits his PCPT application rather late

Determine your requested PCPT


authorization start date Typical Scenarios

18

Application Deadline

USCIS Mailing Address

Mail your OPT Application

Photos

Photo Specifications - 7 Steps to Successful

Photo Specifications FAQ

Photo Specifications

Completing I-765

Completing Optional Practical Training


Authorization Form

OPT application materials

Section 3: How to Apply For OPT

19

Step 3: Pick up your application materials for mailing. An F-1 advisor


will review your application materials and issue a new I-20 for your
OPT application. You will need to pick up your new I-20 and all the
application materials at the OIP front desk once we contact you
(within 5 business days, excluding weekends and holidays), and
then mail them to the USCIS.

Step 2: After reviewing this OPT online application workshop, submit


all the application materials including cover sheet in a blank
envelope to the OIP front desk anytime between Mondays to
Fridays, 8AM to 5PM. Put the cover sheet on top of your OPT
application materials. Your application will not be processed by OIP
without a blank envelope.

Step 1: All applicants are required to review this OPT online


workshop before submitting OPT application materials to OIP.

How to Apply

20

Submit the following documents to OIP:

A blank envelope (at least 9 inches by 11 inches) envelope


the envelope must be big enough to fit all your OPT
application materials. Your application will not be processed
by OIP without a blank envelope

OPT Application Cover Sheet

Completed and signed Optional Practical Training


Authorization Form (2 pages)

Completed & Signed Form I-765 (click Form I-765 (606 KB PDF)
to download Form I-765). Please type this form instead of filling
out by hand

Original or photocopy of your most current I-20

Photocopy of the identification page(s) in your passport (must


include name, current expiration date, and photo)

I-94 admissions verification printout from


https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/ (If you entered the U.S. prior to April 30,
2013, provide a front and back copy of the I-94 card stapled to
inside of your passport)

OPT Application Materials

21

Two 2" by 2" U.S. Passport Style Photographs. Write your name
and I-94 number lightly on the back of each photo
For students who have previous OPT authorization at any U.S.
schools, including SF State: Photocopies of your previous EAD(s)
For students who have previous CPT authorization at SF State:
Photocopies of pages 1 and 3 of any I-20 form which shows
CPT authorization

OPT Application Materials

22

To request your OPT I-20, you must submit a completed Optional Practical
Training Authorization Form (2 pages) to OIP with all the required documents.

Completing Optional Practical Training


Authorization Form

23

05/24/2015

Choosing Type of OPT


Check ONE box only

05/23/2016

Completing Optional Practical Training


Authorization Form

24

05/23/2016

You will NOT be able to adjust your OPT authorization dates once you have
mailed your application to USCIS. Consider the authorization dates carefully
before submitting your OPT Authorization Form to OIP.

If you change your mind about your authorization dates..

Choosing OPT Work Authorization Dates


The start date is the day on which the EAD becomes valid and you can
begin working.
Pre-Completion OPT: The end date must be on or before your program
completion date
Post-Completion OPT (PCPT): The clock starts ticking on the approved start
date whether you have a job or not. The end date is usually 12 months later.

05/24/2015

Completing Optional Practical Training


Authorization Form

25

John Smith
415-338-8888

22 2015

2015

If you are an MBA/MSA major: This form must be signed by Jeffrey Chun,
Assistant Director of MBA program, not your faculty advisor nor Thesis reader.

If you are a business or HTM major: This form must be signed by the advisor in
Student Services Center, College of Business (Room 112), not your faculty
advisor

The 2nd part of the form needs to be completed and signed by your Academic
Advisor at Major Department (Not the Advising Center).

Education

John Smith

Completing Optional Practical Training


Authorization Form

26

Please type the


I-765 form instead of
filling out by hand.

I-765 Form

27

Check the box for


Permission to accept
employment

I-765 Form

28

You may change your mailing address after


you receive a Form I-797C, Notice of Action
(with your case number) from USCIS.

The address you put here must also be in


California. If you are moving out of state, talk
to an adviser in OIP about how to submit this
application outside of California.

Item # 3: Address in the United States


The address you put here is where the EAD will
be mailed. This address needs to be valid for at
least 3 months, the length of time it may take to
process your OPT application. If you think you
might move in the months after you mail your
application, use a reliable friend or family
members address to receive your EAD. See
example on the right. C/O means in care of.

Completing the I-765 Form

29

If you have never had an EAD, check the no


box here. If you have worked on campus or
have used CPT, you will still check no here.

Fill in the next two lines with the information


related to that previous work permit. A
photocopy of that EAD must be included with
your application package. (If you have lost it,
write lost EAD in this space).

Item #11: Previous Employment Authorization


Check yes if you have received an EAD.

Item #10: I-94 Number


On this item, you will use your current I-94
number. This is an 11-digit number found on the
top left corner of your I-94 card. If you entered
the U.S. after April 30, 2013, you can also obtain
this number at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/

Item #9: Social Security Number (SSN)


If you have never worked in the U.S., you may
not yet have a SSN. If this is the case, you can
put N/A (Not Applicable). You will be able
to apply for your SSN when you get the EAD.

Completing the I-765 Form

30

Item #14: Status at Last Entry


This is the status you had upon entering
the U.S. For example, you may have last
entered with a H-4 dependent visa

Item #13: Place of Last Entry into the U.S.


This is the name of the city where you
landed in the U.S. This information is also
can be found on the admission stamp on
your passport (usually as a code like SFR
for San Francisco). If you drove across
from Canada or Mexico, write the name
and the city where you entered

Item #12: Date of Last Entry into the U.S.


or about (mm/dd/yyyy)
This is the date of your most recent entry
into the U.S. This entry date can be found
on the admission stamp on your passport
or on http://www.cbp.gov/i94

Completing the I-765 Form

31

If you entered (c)(3)(A) or (c)(3)(B) on


item #16, you are not required to fill out
this item.

Item#17: (c)(3)(C) Eligibility Category


Only those individuals who are currently
applying for the 17-month extension need
to complete this section.

(c)(3)(C) 17-month STEM Extensions

(c)(3)(B) Post Completion OPT

(c)(3)(A) Pre-Completion OPT

Item#16: Eligibility Category


Use the following codes depending on
the type of OPT you are requesting:

Item#15: Current Immigration Status


Your current status should be F-1 student.
If not, talk to an OIP adviser immediately.

Completing the I-765 Form

32

**Your signature must fit between


the lines on the form. If your
signature is too big, your
application will be returned to
you and delay your work
permission. Be conservative and
use a signature smaller than your
normal handwriting.

Sign your name, fill in your


telephone number and the date
of your signature at the bottom of
the form.

Completing the I-765 Form

33

A well-composed photo

Most places that take passport photos are already familiar with the
specifications. However, you may want to print this page, or the
pages from the web site above to take with you when you get
your photo taken.

The photos you are required to use for the OPT application must
meet the specifications of U.S.style passport photos. To see a full
description of these specifications, go to the U.S. Department of
State web site.

Photo Specifications

34

5. Can eyeglasses be worn for the photo?


Eyeglasses worn on a daily basis can be worn for the photo.
However, there should be no reflections from the eyeglasses
that obscures the eyes. Dark glasses or nonprescription glasses
with tinted lenses are not acceptable unless you need them
for medical reasons.

4. Can hats or religious headgear be worn for the photo?


Unless worn daily for religious reasons, all hats or headgear
should be removed for the photo. In all cases, no item or
attire should cover or otherwise obscure any part of the face.

3. How big must the photos be?


The photos must measure exactly 2 inches by 2 inches.

2. Do the photos have to be in color?


Yes, the photos must be in color.

1. What type of paper are the photographs to be printed on?


The photos should be printed on thin photo-quality paper.

Photo Specifications Frequently Asked


Questions (FAQ)

35

1 inch to 1
3/8

Write your name and I-94 number


lightly on the back of each photo in
case they get separated from your
application.

7. Make sure you have a natural expression

6. There should be no distracting shadows on the face or in the


background

5. The background should be plain white or off-white

4. Make sure eye height is between 1-1/8 inches to 1-3/8 inches (28 mm
and 35 mm) from bottom of photo

3. Your head should be centered head within frame

2. Make sure the photo shows your full head from top of hair to bottom of
chin; height of head should measure 1 inch to 1-3/8 inches (25 mm to 35
mm)

1. Your photo should show your full face, front view, eyes open

Photo Specifications - 7 Steps to


Successful Photos

1 inch to 1
3/8

36

An OPT I-20 will be issued. The new I-20 will have your new
program completion date on the 1st page, and the OPT
recommendation on the 3rd page

Pick up your I-765 application, other application materials, and


new I-20 at the OIP front desk within 5 business days, (excluding
weekends and holidays) after OIP contacts you

Be sure to read the cover letter from OIP. The letter contains a
list of things you need to mail to USCIS

Sign your I-20 photocopy with a blue pen and insert the $380
check (made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland
Security)

Send your application to the USCIS by Certified mail and


Return Receipt (See next page for details)

Notice of Action from the USCIS should arrive at the address


indicated on the I-765 within 4 to 5 weeks

Mail Your OPT Application

37

Private courier (non USPS)


deliveries: If you use express mail,
use the express mail (courier)
address at the USCIS, which is
different from the regular mail
address see next page.

USPS Certified Mail and Return


Receipt: Certified Mail and
Return Receipt service is
available through the U.S. Postal
Service (USPS). You can request
this service at the post office and
pay a minimal fee. With Certified
Mail, you may track your
application package online. In
some cases, it may take up to 10
days for your application sent
through the USPS to be officially
received.

Mail Your OPT Application

38

USCIS
Attn: AOS
1820 E. Skyharbor Circle S
Suite 100
Phoenix, AZ 85034

If you prefer to send your application by private courier (such


as FedEx or DHL), use this address:

USCIS
PO Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036

Address for USPS certified mail:

For your convenience, OIP will provide envelopes with USCISs


address for you. The address on the envelope is for USPS
certified mail only.

USCIS Mailing Address

39

The issue date of the I-20 is located next to the Advisers


signature on Page 1 of the OPT I-20. Please account for mailing
time.

The USCIS must receive your application no later


than 30 days after your OPT I-20 has been issued.

Application Deadline

40

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

PCPT and SEVIS

Days of Unemployment

Types of PCPT Employment

PCPT is Now Dependent on Employment

Applying for a F1 Visa While on PCPT

Traveling Abroad on PCPT

Mandatory Reporting Requirements While on PCPT

Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card

If You Get a Request for Evidence (RFE)

Checking the Status of Your Application

Notice of Action from USCIS

Section 4: Receiving EAD

41

The Receipt Number: This is your case number at the USCIS. It is usually
starts with WAC. If you do not get your Notice of Action within 6 weeks
after mailing your application, call USCIS National Customer Service
Center at 1-800-375-5283.

This is your OPT application receipt from USCIS. It normally takes about 4 to
5 weeks to get it in the mail. The Notice of Action is a very important
document. You will need it to inquire about the status of your OPT
application and for travel outside the U.S.

Notice of Action from USCIS

42

The Received Date


This is the date when the USCIS
begins processing your application.
It may not be the actual date they
received your application but it is
when your case was entered into
the system.

This is the date the Notice of Action


is issued.

The Notice Date

Notice of Action from USCIS

43

3. Enter your WAC number on the receipt letter

2. Click Check your Case Status

1. Visit USCIS website at http://www.uscis.gov/

Checking the Status of Your Application

44

Getting an RFE will delay the processing of your application for


OPT usually by about one month. For this reason, it is important to
make sure that you have completed the I-765 correctly and sent
the proper documents to the USCIS.

We strongly advise you to see an adviser at OIP if you receive an


RFE. An RFE does not mean that your application has been
rejected. It simply means that you need to send in additional
documents before your EAD can be issued. Please note the
deadline to respond to the RFE. If you fail to meet this deadline,
your application will be automatically canceled.

If there is a problem with your application, USCIS will send you a


notice by mail called the Request for Evidence (RFE). In most
cases, the USCIS will not call you at the telephone number you
put on the I-765.

If You Get a Request for Evidence


(RFE)

45

Approximately 3 month processing time


O Spring/Summer tends to be peak period
O Apply as early as possible to avoid unnecessary delays
(but no more than 90 days before degree completion)

upon approval.

USCIS will send you an Employment Authorization Document (EAD card)

Employment Authorization Document


(EAD card)

46

Report employment information to OIP at


http://oip.sfsu.edu/pcptreporting
O Name, address of you employer (company), and the start
date upon obtaining or changing jobs
O When your employment changes or terminates (The last day
of employment)
O Upload an image or a scanned copy of your EAD

E-mail oip@sfsu.edu for any change of name (first, middle, last)

Report any change of address (within the U.S. or your foreign


address) via SF State Gateway

You must report the following information to OIP within 10 days:

Mandatory Reporting Requirements


While on PCPT

47

Evidence of financial support


for the PCPT period is strongly
recommended (such as a
bank statement or letter from
sponsor or employer)
A job offer letter is required.

A valid passport
A valid F-1 visa stamp
Your OPT I-20 with a valid
travel endorsement signed on
page 3 by an advisor at OIP.
The travel endorsement is valid
for 6 months while on PCPT
The PCPT receipt- Notice of
Action
Evidence of financial support
for the OPT period is strongly
recommended (such as a
bank statement or letter from
sponsor or employer)
If you have employment, a
job offer letter from the
employer is strongly
recommended.

A valid passport

A valid F-1 visa stamp

Your OPT with a valid travel


endorsement signed on page
3 by an advisor at OIP. The
travel endorsement is valid for
6 months while on PCPT

The PCPT receipt- Notice of


Action

Evidence of financial support


for the PCPT period is strongly
recommended (such as a
bank statement or letter from
sponsor or employer)

The EAD (Employment


Authorization Document)

Your OPT I-20 with a valid


travel endorsement signed on
page 3 by an advisor at OIP.
The travel endorsement is valid
for 6 months while on PCPT

A valid F-1 visa stamp

A valid passport

After Getting Your EAD

Before Getting Your EAD

Before Getting Your EAD

and

After Completing Your


Program

and

After Completing Your


Program

and

Before Completing Your


Program

Traveling Abroad on PCPT

48

How will you support yourself while you are job-seeking?

What will you do after the OPT is expired?

What kind of job do you plan to look for?

What have you done to find a job?

Be prepared to tell the U.S. immigration officer at the U.S. port


of entry your plans for the OPT year. They may want to know:

Traveling Abroad on PCPT

49

Dont attempt to re-enter the U.S. in a status other than


F-1 unless you are willing to forfeit your PCPT permanently

Students who need to apply for a new visa should


consult OIP prior to travel to discuss the visa application
process and possible risks

Be careful about trying to re-enter the U.S. close to the


expiration date of your PCPT. You may not be allowed
to re-enter as an F-1

Dont leave the U.S. for long periods of time during the
OPT year. A few weeks of vacation is reasonable, but if
you are gone for several months, you may encounter
difficulty in re-entering. Remember, unemployment is
limited to 90 days

Traveling Abroad on PCPT

50

Please check with your local U.S. Embassy for the complete
list of required documents.

Evidence of sufficient funds (e.g. a bank statement, a letter


from a sponsor or a job offer letter)

A job offer in your field of study

The EAD

A valid I-20 with travel endorsement from OIP within the past
six months

A valid passport

If you are traveling abroad and the F-1 visa in your passport has
expired, you must obtain a new one before re-entering the U.S.
To apply for a new visa during PCPT, the basic documents you
will need are:

Applying for an F1 Visa While on PCPT

51

All jobs must be directly related to students major (not minor)

Students must work at least 20 hours per week in a qualifying


position to be considered employed. If a student has a
variable schedule, within a month, it should average out to at
least 20 hours per week.

Students on PCPT may not accrue an aggregate (total) of


more than 90 days of unemployment under the initial 12month period of OPT

PCPT is Now Dependent on


Employment

52

Short-term multiple employers (performing artists). Students,


such as musicians and other performing artists may work for
multiple short term employers (gigs). The student should
maintain a list of all gigs, the dates and duration. If
requested by DHS, students must be prepared to provide
evidence showing a list of all gigs.

Multiple employers. Students may work for more than one


employer, but all employment must be related to the
students degree program and for pre-completion OPT
cannot exceed the allowed per week cumulative hours.

Paid employment
Students may work part-time (at least 20 hours per week when
on PCPT) or full-time.

Types of PCPT employment

53

Self-employed business owner. Students on OPT may start a


business and be self-employed. In this situation, the student
must work full-time. The student must be able to prove that
he or she has the proper business licenses and is actively
engaged in a business related to the students degree
program.

Work for hire. This is also commonly referred to as 1099


employment where an individual performs a service based
on a contractual relationship rather than employment
relationship. If requested by DHS, students must be
prepared to provide evidence showing the duration of the
contract periods and the name and address of the
contracting company.

Types of PCPT employment, contd

54

Employment through an agency. Students on postcompletion OPT must be able to provide evidence showing
they worked an average of at least 20 hours per week while
employed by the agency.

Unpaid employment
Students may work as volunteers or unpaid interns, where this
does not violate any labor laws. The work must be at least 20
hours per week for students on post-completion OPT. These
students must be able to provide evidence from the employer
that the student worked at least 20 hours per week during the
period of employment.

Types of PCPT employment, contd

55

See more details at Days of Unemployment section

If one of those actions is not taken, a student who has


exceeded the period of unemployment while on PCPT
has violated his or her status. There is no 60 day grace
period once the student has reached the 90 day
unemployment limit.

To avoid violating F-1 status, prior to reaching the limit on


authorized unemployment, a student must take one of
the following actions:
O Apply to continue his or her education by a change
of level or transferring to another SEVP-certified school
O Depart the United States
O Take action to otherwise maintain legal status

Days of Unemployment (PCPT only)

56

You have a 60 day grace period after your EAD card


expires to prepare to go home or have your SEVIS record
transferred to a new academic program in the U.S.

You cannot take classes while on PCPT except for


recreational/avocational classes

You may purchase SF State Student Health Insurance to


cover your PCPT year

If you change your immigration status, notify OIP by emailing oip@sfsu.edu the proof of your new status so that
we may update your SEVIS record

If you continue your studies within 5 months of your PCPT


end date, you must contact OIP and have your SEVIS
record transferred to the new program

During PCPT, you are still on the SF State I-20

PCPT and SEVIS

57

I never received a Form I-797C Notice of Action: The USCIS


usually sends this within 4 to 5 weeks of their receipt of the EAD
application. If you have not received the Notice of Action
after this time, check your bank account to see if USCIS
cashed your check. If so, USCIS National Customer Service
Center at 1-800-375-5283.

When will I get my EAD? The USCIS will mail the EAD to you at
the address you gave on the I-765 form. It should arrive
approximately three to four months from the received date
indicated on the USCIS Form I-797C Notice of Action

How can I know the status of my OPT application? As soon as


you have your Notice of Action, check the USCIS website at
www.uscis.gov and click on the Check your Case Status
button. The main information you can get from this is whether
your application has been approved yet or is still in process.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

58

How long can I stay in the U.S. after the end date of my PCPT?
You have 60 days after your PCPT ends to leave the U.S.,
request a transfer of your I-20, or change your status. You
cannot work.

Is there any way to change the information on the EAD


application (address, dates, etc.) once I have mailed the
application?
After you have mailed your application to USCIS no changes
can be made except for address updates. If you change your
address while your application is pending, call USCIS National
Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 and have your
receipt number ready when you call.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

59

USCIS said that my application was approved over six weeks


ago and I still havent received it. Is there a problem? There
may be. Have you moved? If so, did you update your
address? See an adviser at OIP for more information.

USCIS said that my EAD was approved, but I have not received
it yet can I start working? No. Employers are required to
verify that you are eligible to work before they can put you on
payroll. You must be able to show them the EAD when you
begin employment.

90 days have passed since the Notice of Action receipt date.


What can I do? Call USCIS National Customer Service Center at
1-800-375-5283 and have your receipt number ready when you
call.

Does my spouse or children get a new OPT I-20 too? When your
new OPT I-20 is printed, you should also get an I-20 for your
family members who are F-2 dependents with the updated
information on it.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

60

My EAD says not valid for re-entry on it. Does that mean I
cannot travel abroad and re-enter on OPT? All EADs are
marked with this notation. It simply means that you must carry
other documents to show proof of your eligibility to re-enter the
U.S. such as your I-20 and valid F-1 visa stamp. The EAD alone
is not enough to re-enter the U.S.

I lost my EAD. How can I get it replaced? If you lose your EAD
the only way to replace it is with a new EAD application. The
process requires the same items as the initial application to
USCIS (fee, photos, forms, etc.) and will take three to five
months. It is not possible to replace an EAD if you are outside
the U.S.

How do I get an extension of my EAD? Only students who


have completed certain STEM majors and have an employer
who is enrolled in E-Verify are eligible for 17 Month Extension
OPT.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

61

Is there a minimum number of hours I need to work? There is no


minimum for students on OPT. All students on PCPT, whether
they have completed their degree or not, are required to work
20 hours per week. Students who do not work an average of
20 hours per week are not meeting the PCPT employment
requirement.

What counts as employment? Immigration has provided many


options to satisfy the employment requirement including paid,
unpaid, and volunteer work related to your field of study.
Please review the Types of Employment section of this
workshop.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

62

Leave the U.S. and report your departure date to oip@sfsu.edu

Request a transfer out of your I-20 to a new school

Secure unpaid or volunteer work related to your field of study


at least 20 hours per week

To avoid the status violation, you may do one of the following


before the 90th day:

If you accumulate 90 days or more of unemployment, you are


in violation of status which may affect your ability to travel in
and out of the U.S. in F-1 status, future immigration benefits,
and change of status applications.

I have been unemployed for 80 days. What is going to happen


on the 90th day?

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

63

Can I change employers while on PCPT? Yes. PCPT work


authorization is not job-specific. Therefore, you may change
employers, or have multiple employers at the same time,
provided that each position is directly related to your major
field of study and commensurate with your educational level.
You can update your employers information at
http://oip.sfsu.edu/oip/pcptreporting

Can I apply for Social Security Number after my OPT is


approved? Yes. Bring your passport, EAD, and I-20 to Social
Security Administration Office to apply for a SSN. You can only
apply for SSN after your OPT has started.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

64

In general, however, F-1 students who have been present in


the U.S. for no more than five calendar years are exempt from
Social Security (FICA) and Medicare taxes. Be sure to bring this
to the attention of your employer, as many employers are
unfamiliar with this provision of the tax laws. See publication
519 available for download from the IRS web site www.irs.gov
for information on how to claim salary incorrectly deducted for
FICA or Medicare.

Do I pay taxes while working on OPT? Students in F-1 status are


subject to all federal, state and local taxes that may apply.
Check the IRS web site, www.irs.gov for tax information and to
see if your country is one of the few that has a tax treaty with
the U.S. allowing students to exclude a limited amount of
earned income from federal taxation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

65

Undergraduate student: You must extend your I-20 end date if


you still have course work to complete. Your PCPT will be
limited to part time during the semester until you finish your
degree. You are still held to the 90 day unemployment rule.
See an Adviser at OIP before that completion date has
passed. Graduate Students: Graduate students finishing their
thesis cannot change their program end date. They are
eligible to work full time before finishing thesis and are held to
the 90 day unemployment rule. It is important that the student
finish their degree before their PCPT ends.

What if I am not able to complete my degree program by the


completion dated noted on the OPT I-20? If you application
has not been adjudicated, you can withdraw your OPT and
request a program extension of your I-20. Your fee will NOT be
refunded.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

66

Do I need to do anything with OIP while on OPT? Yes. As a


condition of your F-1 status, all students must report any
changes in address via My SF State Gateway and report
employment information at http://oip.sfsu.edu/pcptreporting

Can I go to school while on PCPT? Time spent going to school


should only be an incidental part of your stay in the U.S. If you
decide to go back to school full-time, you must get a new I-20
from the school and forfeit the remainder of your PCPT time.
See an adviser at OIP or at your new school if you are
considering this

What status do I have between my degree completion date


and the start of my PCPT (EAD start date)? If you have chosen a
start date well after your degree completion date, you will still
remain in F-1 status. Even though there seems to be a gap in
your status, you are still legally allowed to remain in the U.S. or
re-enter the U.S. from abroad during this time.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

67

Does my F-1 visa need to be valid while on PCPT? Your visa


only needs to be valid to re-enter the U.S. from abroad. Thus, if
it expires while you are still in the U.S., there is no problem. Your
F-1 immigration status remains valid as long as you have an
EAD that has not expired and you are following F-1 regulations.

Can I work on campus after I complete my program of studies?


No. Once you finish your degree program, you are no longer
eligible to work on campus. Doing so would be a violation of
university policy and F-1 regulations. However, you could be
hired as staff or faculty while on PCPT.

Can I start working without pay while waiting for my EAD? This is
generally not a good idea. The USCIS may see it as
employment without authorization and is a risky situation for
you and your employer.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)