F-1 Visa

F-1 Visa is granted to individuals who come to the United States for the purpose of education in their desired field of study. Upon completion, degree in the field of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) in the United States for F-1 Visa students will provide a total of three (3) years of work authorization. Key to take advantage of this provision for F-1 Visa students is making sure that the University is in the Department of Homeland Security- Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) approved list of schools. In some rare cases, reputation of the school matters for immigration related benefits including employment authorization. If you happen to believe, you may be attending any of these schools, it is in your best interest to transfer your SEVIS record to a school that has a history of good reputation. Please contact us by email or phone to further discuss about your situation related to F-1 Visa.

Curriculum Practical Training (CPT)

Curriculum Practical Training (CPT) is authorized by Designated School Official (DSO) to work and gain practical knowledge in the field of study. It can be in the form of work/study, internship, Cooperative education etc. CPT can be part-time or full-time. CPT can be granted up to one (1) year of Full-time work. Once the student uses up this 1 year of Full-time CPT, becomes ineligible to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) at that degree level.

In order to apply for CPT with school DSO, you need to complete at least one (1) year of education at the school. Exception to one (1) year enrollment requirement are provided to Graduate study programs that require immediate participation in the CPT.

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

1. Pre-completion OPT:

You may apply for this OPT, upon completion of one (1) year of program at the school.  You can work part-time, while school in session. Also, can work full-time while the school is not in session (such as during summer). The usage of this pre-completion OPT can result in deduction on the amount of work authorization from one (1) year. For example, if you work 4 months on pre-completion OPT, your post-completion OPT will be deducted and result in 8 months of total OPT for non-STEM graduates.

2. Post-completion OPT:

For non-STEM graduates, Optional Practical Training (OPT) only lasts for one (1) year. It is advised to start the process of applying for OPT at-least 60-90 days in advance to graduation. Usually upon graduation, F-1 student has 60 days from program end date to leave the country or apply for another immigration benefit including applying for OPT or any other benefit that best suits his/her situation. If you apply late to USCIS for OPT purposes, you may lose the amount of work authorization.

For STEM graduates, initial Optional Practical Training (OPT) authorization of 1 year can be extended for another 2 years upon application to USCIS for extension purposes.

24 month STEM extension:

You need to employed by an employer who is enrolled in E-Verify and received an initial grant of OPT based on your STEM degree. Make sure to complete I-983 training plan form along with the supervisor signature.

Cap-Gap when applying for H-1B Visa

If your employer happen to apply for H-1B visa, and your application gets picked in the lottery after April 1st, then USCIS automatically extends the status of the expiring OPT employment authorization until October 1st of that year. The expiring date should be before October 1st of that year for cap-gap to be applicable. Also, you should be on active F-1 OPT status, when your application is made to the USCIS.