Optional Practical Training (OPT)

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Employment Requirements After Graduation

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You may only begin employment once you have the EAD (Employment Authorization Card) in your possession and you have reached the start date on your card. The email confirmation will not suffice as evidence of eligibility for employment. You may only work within the dates printed on the card. Graduating students are not permitted to work on campus after graduation unless the job qualifies under OPT and falls within the dates of the EAD card.

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Your job must be directly related to your academic field of study. Undergraduates need to be able to make logical connection between studies and employment. For example, a professional position that requires a minimum educational level of a BA, regardless of major.

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Employment must be a minimum of 20 hours per week, paid or unpaid, to maintain legal F-1 OPT status.


Types of Employment Allowed on Post-Completion OPT


Multiple employers

 

Students may work for more than one employer, but all employment must be related to each individual student’s degree program.


Short-term multiple employers

 

(performing artists) Students, such as musicians and other performing artists, may work for multiple short term employers (gigs). The student should maintain a list of all gigs, the dates, and the duration.


Work for hire

 

This is also commonly referred to as 1099 employment where an individual performs a service based on a contractual relationship rather than an employment relationship. If requested by the Department of Homeland Security, students should be prepared to provide evidence showing the duration of the contract periods and the name and address of the contracting company.


Self-employed business owner

 

Students on OPT may start a business and be self-employed. The student should be able to prove that he or she has the proper business licenses and is actively engaged in a business related to his or her degree program.


Employment through an agency or consulting firm

 

Students on post-completion OPT must be able to provide evidence showing that they worked an average of at least 20 hours per week while employed by the agency.


Unpaid employment

 

Students may work as volunteers or unpaid interns, where this practice does not violate any labor laws.


Limitation on Unemployment for Post-Completion OPT

Students approved for post completion OPT may not accrue more than 90 days of unemployment during the approved OPT dates. Time spent outside the United States, if not employed by a U.S. employer, is counted towards the 90-day period of unemployment. A student should be able to provide evidence, acquired from the student’s employer, to verify that he or she worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of employment.

 

Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Related Links

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Report updated OPT information to SEVIS

F-1 Students

 

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Employment Authorization