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Skidmore College
International Students and Scholars

Visa Information

F1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is the term used for authorized off-campus employment by international students in F-1 status when the employment is not related to a class/course or curriculum.  OPT can be authorized for periods of time either before or after the completion of your program of study.  A total of 12 months of such training (work) authorization can be given to a student during his or her stay in the United States.  Students completing degree programs in certain science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields may be eligible for an additional 17 months of OPT.

 There are two types of OPT that can be authorized by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as a benefit in the F-1 study visa program.

 A) Pre-Completion OPT

and

B) Post-Completion OPT (work permission after graduation)

 

Pre-Completion OPT

Pre-completion OPT employment authorized before the student's program end date.  Students with approved pre-completion OPT may work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session.  Students who are eligible to register for the next term and who plan to do so may have approval to work full time when school is not in session (e.g. summer vacation between freshmen and sophomore years).

 Eligibilty

  1. Must have completed two (2) semesters of study (by the time work commences);
  2. Must have a declared major;
  3. Must apply for and have authorization from USCIS (this is a separate government agency from SEVIS);
  4. Must be eligible for and have intention to enroll in the semester following the employment (e.g. register in the fall if working in the summer).

Criteria

  • Must relate to your major;
  • Must be date specific (e.g. June 1-August 21, three months);
  • DSO must approve in SEVIS and issue new I-20;
  • Does not need to be credit bearing (i.e. IN-100, MB-399, EC-399, etc.);
  • Does not need to be part of your program of study;
  • You do not need a signed cooperative agreement or a letter from your employer;
  • Does not need to be employer specific;

Application and Authorization

Follow these steps for Pre-Completion OPT authorization

1. Look for (off-campus) employment (i.e. paid/unpaid internship, employment);

2. Select start and end dates and complete Pre-Completion OPT Authorization Request Form;

    • access a digital copy here or pick up a paper copy in SAS

3. The DSO will provide you with a new Form I-20 showing DSO recommendation for this employment;

4. Apply for work authorization by filing a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (EAD), with USCIS and paying a filing fee ($380 as of 02/2016);

    • I-765 can be filed electronically or by sending a hard copy by mail with original signature

5. USCIS Adjudication can take anywhere from 2-3 months;

6. Do NOT start work UNTIL you receive your EAD!

    • EAD cards are the same size as a NY Driver's License/State ID
    • Contains your photo, date of birth, and dates of authorization

7. You can work only for the duration stated on your EAD;

8. Apply for Social Security Number (SSN), if you do not have one already.

 

Post-Completion OPT

Post-completion OPT is employment authorized after the student's program end date (i.e. after graduation from Skidmore).  This is the more common type of OPT requested by Skidmore students.

Any approved pre-completion OPT that is granted for periods of time before a student completes the program of study will be deducted from the 12 months post-completion OPT.  For example, if you work 3 months during a summer vacation period you would have only 9 months of OPT after graduation.  Students are eligible for 12 months of OPT at every grade level (e.g. bachelor's, master's, etc).  There are several conditions which must be met, and procedures which must be followed for students to be granted optional practical training.

Eligibility

  1. You must be in F-1 status for at least one academic year (9 months) prior to your application for optional practical training;
  2. Must have completed degree by the time employment commences;
  3. Must apply for and have authorization from USCIS (this is a separate government agency from SEVIS).

Criteria

  • Employment must relate to your major (not your minor);
  • Must be date specific (e.g. June 1-May 31, twelve months);
  • DSO must approve in SEVIS and issue new I-20;
  • To apply for OPT, you do not need an offer of employment;
  • Does not need to be employer specific;
    • You may have multiple employers, or be self-employed as long as all employment is related to your major

Application and Authorization

Follow these steps for Post-Completion OPT authorization

1. Select start and end dates;

    • examples of start and end dates could be: May 20-May 19, June 1-May 31
    • selected start date can be no more than 60 days after the last day of your final semester

2. Complete Post-Completion OPT Authorization Request Form;

    • access a digital copy here or pick up a paper copy in SAS

3. The DSO will provide you with a new Form I-20 showing DSO recommendation for this employment;

4. Apply for work authorization by filing a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (EAD), with USCIS and paying a filing fee ($380 as of 02/2016);

    • I-765 can be filed electronically or by sending a hard copy by mail with original signature

5. USCIS Adjudication can take anywhere from 2-3 months;

6. Do NOT start work UNTIL you receive your EAD!

    • EAD cards are the same size as a NY Driver's License/State ID
    • Contains your photo, date of birth, and dates of authorization

7. You can work only for the duration stated on your EAD;

8. Apply for Social Security Number (SSN), if you do not have one already;

9. If you do not have a job offer, we highly recommend using the Career Development Center (CDC) staff and resources.