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Students Currently on OPT

UNEMPLOYMENT

  • F-1 students on post-completion OPT are limited to 90 days of unemployment for each period of OPT at each academic level. 
  • Student's who have been approved for the 17-month STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) extension are given an additional 30 days of unemployment for a total of 120 days over the entire post-completion OPT period. 
  • Students who are unemployed beyond the 90-day limit may be denied future immigration benefits which require valid F-1 status.  For example, if you apply for a change to status to H-1B or Permanent Residency, it may be important to record your dates of unemployment.
  • Volunteer work, paid or unpaid internships, and part-time jobs can count as employment – if you do not find a job within the first two months of OPT, you may look for a volunteer position and/or an internship to work while you search for a full-time, paid position.    

REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

All students on post-completion OPT and extended OPT must report to the Office of International Programs (OIP) every six months to verify the following information:

  • Full legal name
  • Current mailing and residential address, and mailing address
  • Name and address of current employer
  • Date you began working for the employer and last date of employment (if applicable).

Each student is responsible for reporting any change in the information above, as well as unemployment information, to International Programs within 10 days of the change to avoid situations where a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officer may determine a student is out of status.

Students should keep a record of all reports made to the Office of International Programs.  DHS also suggests that students keep clear records for all periods of employment and unemployment during OPT. The following list contains suggested evidence of employment:

  • Job title
  • Proof of employment duration (start date and end date, when applicable)
  • Contact information for supervisor and/or manager
  • Description of work
  • Signed letter from employer stating how nature of the work is related to student’s degree, if not already implicit in job description  

You may be required to prove the existence (or nonexistence) of periods of unemployment in future petitions for immigration benefits; therefore, it is very important to document the start and end dates of any periods of unemployment, along with the employment information above.  Remember, this is your responsibility.    

STEM EXTENSION

17-month extension of OPT for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) degree-holders currently on OPT (Applicants for the 17-month OPT extension must request a OPT STEM Extension).  The one-time 17-month OPT extension applies to F-1 students currently on OPT based on completion of a degree earned in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. USCIS created the extension so that employers may have a chance to file H-1B petitions, on behalf of STEM students, in two consecutive fiscal years if necessary. 

In the United States, each academic degree program or major has an accompanying Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code.  For F-1 students, the CIP code is used in SEVIS as confirmation of the academic degree program or major name.  A student’s CIP code must appear on the STEM Designated Degree Program List in order to be eligible for the 17-month OPT extension. To check your eligibility, locate your major name on Form I-20, section 5 and review the annotated STEM Designated Degree Program List (Please note the major name listed on Form I-20 may differ slightly from the title of your major at Roosevelt University): http://www.ice.gov/sevis/stemlist.htm.       

AUTOMATIC “CAP-GAP” EXTENSION FOR H-1B APPLICANTS

The F-1/H-1B “Cap-gap” occurs when F-1 students’ status expires before they can start approved H-1B employment in the next fiscal year beginning October 1.  The Cap-Gap Extension applies to all F-1 beneficiaries of H-1B and concurrent change of status petitions.  Under this rule, F-1 status is extended while the H-1B  petition is pending; F-1 students may remain in the U.S. until October 1 of the next fiscal year when their H-1B status begins.

Current interpretation of the new provision suggests the extension applies not only to F-1 status, but also to work authorization, through October 1. Limits of OPT unemployment continue through the Cap-Gap Extension period. The Cap-Gap Extension terminates when USCIS rejects, denies, or revokes the H-1B petition.  F-1 students may only benefit from automatic Cap-Gap extension if they have not violated their status.