Tuesday, May 20, 2014

OPTIONS FOR FOREIGN STUDENTS ON OPT

One of the largest blocks of applications for the H-1B cap is foreign students who are currently working on OPT (optional practical training).  Students who are authorized to work on OPT will hold an employment authorization document (EAD) or card.  The validity dates of the student’s work authorization under OPT will be printed on the face of the card.

Students with work authorization under OPT whose H-1B has been chosen under the cap are eligible for cap-gap work authorization.  The student should present the H-1B receipt notice to his/her international student office.  The school will issue a new I-20 to the student extending his/her work authorization to October 1 when the H-1B will take effect.

If the student’s H-1B has not been chosen under the cap, the student must stop working on the end date of his/her OPT authorization.  The student then has the following options:

1. If the employer participates in e-verify and the student’s degree is in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) field, the student may qualify for an extension of their OPT. 
2. The student can change to a different immigration status, such as H4 or L2. 
3. The student can return to school to seek a new degree.  The student should contact his/her school to have his/her SEVIS record updated or transferred to a new school.
4. The student can depart the US and return to his/her home country. 

At the end of the OPT period, the student has a sixty day grace period during which the student is not authorized to work but is authorized to remain in the US to conclude his/her affairs and pursue one of the options above.  

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