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OPT-Optional Practical Training Information

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a type of work authorization that permits international students on an F-1 visa to gain work experience in their major field of study for one year of full-time employment at each higher degree level achieved.

 

TYPES OF OPT

PRE-COMPLETION OPT is OPT authorized to work before the student’s program end date. There are limited ways students can apply for pre-completion OPT during the summer and part time. To find out more, please contact the Office of International Affairs.

Note: Pre-Completion OPT will be deducted from the 12 months of Post-Completion OPT. Students who apply for pre-completion will not be eligible for the 17 month STEM extension.

 

POST-COMPLETION OPT is OPT authorized to work after the student’s program end date. The student must meet the following requirements to apply for OPT:

  •  Must have attended Louisiana Tech for at least three consecutive quarters
  • Must have maintained your active F-1 status
  • Must NOT have previous OPT approved for the same degree level
  • Have not used 12 months of full-time CPT at the current degree level
  • Certificate program students at Louisiana Tech are NOT eligible for OPT

 

APPLICATION DEADLINE

-        You may apply for your OPT as early as 90 days before the completion date of your program, and no later than 60 days after the program end date (or 60 days grace period). However, OPT must be requested PRIOR to expiration of your 60-day grace period. If you do not apply for OPT before the end of your grace period you will not be eligible for OPT.

-        U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must receive your application by your 60-day grace period and within 30 days of the date that your DSO recommends in SEVIS.

 

APPLICATION ITEMS

  • I-765 Form (ISO will help you prepare this)
  • Photocopy of Passport page (must be valid for at least 6 months from application, bring your passport to your appointment)
  • Photocopy of Visa page
  • Photocopy of SSN 
  • Most recent I-20
  • Most recent I-94 (this can be printed out from https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home) and Travel History
  • $410.00 form filing fee (can be paid with a debit or credit card)
  • Photocopies of all issued OPT cards or CPT I-20s (if applicable)
  • OPT Recommendation Form completed and signed by your Academic Advisor (see attached form)
  • International Student Exit Form (can be found at ISO)
  • Previous EAD Card (if applicable)

 

PREMIUM PROCESSING:

UCSIS now offers premium processing for applications. The form filing fee for just premium processing is $1685. If this is something you’re interested in, make sure you’re prepared to pay this fee and your I-765 form filing fee at the time of submission. 

Note: Premium processing only applies to the processing of your application. Not the processing of your EAD card. 

 

Post Completion OPT Employment Reporting Requirements

Students under OPT are required to report their employment directly through the SEVP Portal. Students are responsible for reporting and updating employment, address, email, and telephone information on or after their approved OPT start date. All changes must be reported to the SEVP Portal within 10 days. 

SEVP will send you an email on the date that your Post-Completion OPT employment begins. This email will instruct you on how to register your portal account. You must register your account within 14 days of receiving the email. If you do not receive the email, check your junk or spam folders. Please go to https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/sevp-portal-help pages on Study in the States for further instructions regarding the SEVP Portal.

Note: Your post-completion OPT F-1 status may be terminated if:

  • You fail to make the report to SEVP Portal (Post-completion OPT).
  • You have been participating in OPT for more than 90 days but have not reported any employment information.

 

All students (including those on an approved 24 month extension) are responsible for reporting and updating the following employer information to the OIA:

  • Name of employer and location where you actually work
  • Name and contact of supervisor
  • Your job title
  • Dates of employment (start and end date)
  • Part time or Full time
  • Any change to the name and address of the employer
  • Any interruption of such employment
  • Current address and phone number

 

Travel During OPT:

Travel before receiving the OPT card
If your OPT is pending, or you have not received your EAD card, you may still leave the U.S. However, traveling during this time should be taken with caution. We strongly recommend that you do NOT travel until your request has been approved. If you do depart the U.S., we recommend you do so with a valid visa and with the knowledge that USCIS may send you a request for evidence while you are away. Please understand that you travel at your own risk.

Travel after receiving the OPT card
If your post-completion OPT has been approved (EAD card has been issued by USCIS), and you have a job office, you may leave and re-enter the U.S. to resume employment. You must have all the documents below to travel and return to the U.S.:

  • A valid I-20 with the travel endorsement signed on page 2 by DSO
  • An unexpired passport
  • An unexpired F-1 visa
  • An EAD card issued by USCIS
  • A job offer letter or evidence of resumption of employment (letter from employer)

Attention: USCIS is currently taking over 90 days to process the OPT application. We suggest you plan accordingly. You can call us at 318.257.4321 or email Mrs. Khalilah Kersey at kkersey@latech.edu to schedule your OPT appointment. 

 

APPLICATION CHECKLIST: 

  • Obtained all items from Application Items
  • Make an account on USCIS websites at https://www.uscis.gov/file-online/forms-available-to-file-online. Choose “File Online” next to I-765 to create your account. 
  • Digitized all documents (passport, visa, I-94 and Travel History, SSN, EAD card, I-20s, 2x2 photos etc.)
  • Recommendation: Go to “https://www.cutout.pro/passport-photo-maker” to make a digital copy of your passport photo. 
  • Have access to appropriate funds
  • Scheduled an appointment with Khalilah Kersey by emailing her at kkersey@latech.edu

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How do I pick my OPT Start Date?
Your start date may vary according to your individual timeline to job prospects. It may be no later than 60 days after your program end date. Please contact Khalilah Kersey at kkersey@latech.edu for more details. 

 How will I know if my OPT application has been approved?
Two weeks after you apply, you will receive a Notice of Action from USCIS. Keep this letter; you will need it. Your Notice of Action will tell you to expect to wait about 90 days to receive your Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The EAD is a small photo identification card that states the type and the period of employment authorized. The authorized work period on your EAD cannot be extended. When you receive this card, check to make certain all the information is correct. This is a crucial document: be sure you keep it in a safe place.

You can check the status of your case by going to the USCIS home page at www.uscis.gov and entering the number on your Receipt Notice (the Receipt Number begins with EAC or WAC) into “CHECK CASE STATUS”.

Can I begin working before I get the EAD?
No, you may not begin employment before you receive your EAD from USCIS, even if your requested start date has passed. Working before OPT has been authorized by the USCIS constitutes illegal employment and will jeopardize your legal status in the U.S. You may begin work only after receiving a temporary or original EAD card.

Can I travel abroad and re-enter the U.S. before I receive my EAD?

NO, IF: you have completed your studies but have not received your EAD card. If you leave the U.S. after your completion date (item #5 on your I-20) and before you receive your EAD, your OPT will be canceled. USCIS will consider this an abandonment of your application and will not permit you to re-apply or re-enter.

YES, IF: You are applying for pre-completion OPT and will continue as a full-time student at LA Tech or You are applying for post-completion OPT and will re-enter the U.S. before the completion date of your program. To re-enter the U.S., you will still require a valid travel signature on your I-20 and a current valid F-1 visa.

Can I travel abroad while I am on OPT?
Yes, you may travel outside the U.S. while on OPT, provided below documents:

  • Valid F-1 visa
  • Valid passport
  • Valid EAD card
  • You have a job, offer of employment, or have documentation of your job search AND
  • OIA has signed page 3 of your I-20, permitting re-entry to the U.S.

Can I transfer while on OPT?
Authorization for OPT is automatically terminated when you transfer to another school or begin study at another educational level. You cannot reapply for any lost time.

What if I move, will my EAD card be forwarded?
USCIS will not forward your EAD card to your new address; therefore, the OIA does not recommend you to change your address while your OPT application is pending. If it is beyond your control and you must move to a new address after your application has been submitted to USCIS, you will need to change your address in the following four locations to ensure that you receive your EAD card:

  • USCIS: You can change your address online at www.uscis.gov. 
  • United States Post Office: You can change your address online at www.usps.com (there will be a $1 charge) or change it manually by going to any post-office and completing an “OFFICIAL CHANGE OF ADDRESS FORM”

 

Immigration Status while on OPT

  • You are still an F-1 student status with LA Tech
  • If you move during OPT period, please update your address
  • Obtain appropriate travel authorization from the OIA