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Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Overview:
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment that is directly related to the student’s major area of study. Students can apply to receive up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization before completing their academic studies.

In May 2016, DHS announced that students who are participating in post-completion OPT may be eligible for a 24-month extension. If students earned a degree in pre-approved
science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, students could apply for the STEM OPT extension.

WUST is compelled to follow all SEVP and DHS regulations regarding OPT and the STEM extension
.

Student Eligibility Requirements:
To be eligible for OPT students must:
•    Have been enrolled on a full-time basis for one academic year (pre-completion) OR
•    Graduated (or will graduate) from their program of study (post-completion)
•    Attended or attending a Department of Homeland Security approved college or university.

      •    Please remember that secondary schools and language schools are not eligible for OPT.
•    Not have been absent from the United States for more than 5 consecutive months.
If you do not meet all these requirements, your OPT may be denied.


When to Apply:
Students can file for post-completion ¬no earlier than 90 days prior to your program completion date and must file no later than 60 days after the program completion date.
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Application Procedure:

To apply for OPT, students must complete the following:

  • Complete the OPT Request Form available on our website.

    • To complete the form, you will need to collect and upload the following documents:

      • Copy of your Passport (must be valid for at least 6 months).

      • Copy of your most recent I-94.

      • Copy of your most recent F-1 Visa page.

      • All previous CPT I20s from your current program level (if any).

        • If you did not participate in CPT, you can just provide your active I-20.

      • Electronic passport style photo (2-inch x 2-inch with a white background).

  • Once the application has been reviewed and approved by the OPT Review Committee, the I-20 with the recommendation for OPT will be issued by a DSO.

    • You will be required to pay the $150 processing fee through the Finance office before approval.

    • Initial OPT request I-20s are processed on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

  • Once you have the I-20 with the recommendation for OPT, you will be ready to submit your application online with USCIS.

    • Please remember that you cannot submit your application with USCIS before receiving this I-20.

    • You must also sign this I-20 before submitting the application.

    • The application must be received by USCIS within 30 days of the issuance of the I-20.

  • To submit your I-765 online you must:

    • Create an online account with USCIS.

    • Choose the “Application for Employment Authorization (I-765)” Form.

    • Choose “Post-Completion OPT – (c)(3)(b)”.

    • Follow instructions and complete the form.

 

To apply for the OPT STEM extension, students must complete the following:

  • Complete the OPT STEM Request Form available on our website.

    • To complete the form, you will need to collect and upload the following documents:

      • Copy of your Passport (must be valid for at least 6 months).

      • Copy of your most recent I-94.

      • Copy of your most recent F-1 Visa page.

      • An official transcript from WUST and a copy of your Diploma.

        • You will be required to pay a $15 transcript fee.

      • All previous I20s from the current program level.

      • Completed Form I-983 and offer letter from your employer.

        • Please remember that the offer letter must be on the company’s letterhead, must have a brief description of the job performed or list of responsibilities, and must be signed by your supervisor/employer.

      • Electronic passport style photo (2-inch x 2-inch with a white background).

  • Once the application has been reviewed and approved by the OPT Review Committee, the I-20 with the recommendation for OPT STEM Extension will be issued by a DSO.

    • You will be required to pay the $150 processing fee through the Finance office before approval.

  • Once you have the I-20 with the recommendation for OPT STEM Extension, you will be ready to submit your application online with USCIS.

    • Please remember that you cannot submit your application with USCIS before receiving this I-20.

    • You must also sign this I-20 before submitting the application.

    • The application must be received by USCIS within 60 days of the issuance of the I-20.

  • To submit your I-765 online you must:

    • Create an online account with USCIS.

    • Choose the “Application for Employment Authorization (I-765)” Form.

    • Choose “Post-Completion OPT – (c)(3)(c)”.

    • Follow instructions and complete the form.

 

OPT Fees:

  • Initial OPT Request

    • $150 Application fee paid to WUST.

    • $410 Application fee paid to USCIS.

  • OPT STEM Extension Request

    • $150 Application fee paid to WUST.

    • $15 Official Transcript fee paid to WUST.

    • $410 Application fee paid to USCIS.

 

Important Things to Know

  • Initial OPT approval is for 12 months only.

    • STEM extension adds an additional 24 months.

  • Students can be authorized for 12 months of OPT per program level.

  • Students with the 12-month approval for OPT have 90 days of unemployment.

  • Students who have been approved for the 24-month STEM Extension have an additional 60 days of unemployment.

  • You must report any changes to your employment within 10 days of the change.

  • Students who have been approved for the STEM Extension will also be required to report their STEM OPT participation every 6 months.

You can do so by filling out the STEM OPT Data Validation Form.

  • What do I do if my CPT ends early?
    If your CPT employment ends early, you must notify the International Students Office of your last date of employment in order to update your SEVIS record and have a new I-20 issued.
  • Will working on CPT impact my OPT application?
    Students can participate in unlimited part-time CPT (20 hours per week or less) with no consequences. However, there is a limit on how much full-time CPT a student can participate in. If a student does 12 months or more of full-time CPT over the course of their program, they will lose their eligibility to participate in post-completion OPT. We recommend limiting your full-time CPT to less than 12 months if you plan to apply for OPT. If you do not plan to apply for OPT, you can participate in full-time CPT for any amount of time as long as you are eligible.
  • Can I extend my CPT authorization?
    Yes, you can extend your CPT authorization. You must submit a new CPT application. If you are continuing with the same employer, you should submit an employment verification letter instead of your original job offer letter. If you are changing employers, use your new offer letter.
  • Can I change employers on CPT?
    Yes, you can apply to change employers at any time while on CPT. Your new job must still be directly related to your major area of study. You must submit a new CPT application and pay the $75 fee. You cannot begin your new job until you receive an updated I-20 with the new CPT authorization on it. Nor can you begin before the start date on the I-20.
  • How do I apply for a Social Security number (SSN)?
    Once you receive your I-20 with CPT authorization, you can apply for a SNN. You must do so directly with the Social Security Administration. You will be required to gather the required documents and visit a Social Security office in person near you.
  • How long will it take to process my CPT application?
    CPT applications typically take 1-2 weeks to process. An exact processing time cannot be given because some of the processing steps are outside of the university’s control. You can speed up the process by ensuring your employer responds to the employment verification email, and by paying your CPT fee once it is added to your Populi account.
  • How do I find a job so I can apply for CPT?
    If you need help or advice on finding a job, please contact the Career Service Center.
  • Does my employer have to sponsor me to work in the U.S.?
    No, your employer does not need to sponsor you in order for you to work on CPT. The university is authorized by USCIS to grant CPT authorization to eligible students. All you need is an I-20 with CPT authorization.
  • Can I have more than one job on CPT?
    It is possible to have 2 part-time jobs while on CPT. Both jobs must be related to your major area of study. It is important to note that USCIS will consider having 2 part-time jobs at the same time as full-time employment.
  • Where can I work?
    Your work location must be within a commutable distance from the university. Or the position must be remote.
  • Can I be excused from classes if I have to work that day?
    No. Employment obligations cannot be used to excuse you from class. Your number one priority as an F-1 student is to be a student. You are fully expected to attend all of your classes, whether on campus or online, and to keep up with your course work. If you are unable to do so, your CPT authorization may be revoked.
  • I was offered on-campus employment. Do I need to apply for CPT?
    Student workers hired for 20 hours per week or less do not need to apply for CPT. In these circumstances, the employment does not need to be related to your degree program. Student workers hired for more than 20 hours per week must apply for full-time CPT. The duties and responsibilities of the position must be directly related to your major area of study.
  • Can I apply for OPT while I am working on CPT?
    Yes. You can submit your OPT application in your final quarter. However, once you submit your OPT application, you will not be allowed to extend your CPT or change your employer. Doing so could jeopardize your OPT application with USCIS.
  • Do I need to keep my CPT I-20?
    Yes. You should keep all I-20s for your records. WUST does not keep I-20s on file for an extended period of time.
  • I have more questions about CPT. Who can I talk to?
    If you have more questions about CPT, please contact iso@wust.edu. CPT applications should be submitted by the beginning of the quarter you are applying for. It is best to apply at least 1-2 weeks prior to your projected start date.
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