Articles Posted in OPT

Back in 2008, Optional Practical Training (OPT) was extended from 12 to 29 months for STEM students but a ruling by a court last week puts this extension in jeopardy. OTP is available to students on F-1 visas who have graduated or have been working towards a degree for nine months. OPT allows students to gain a practical working experience that is related to their field of study. The OPT extension is only for students in STEM (science, technology, engineering or math).

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Last week a court ruled that this extension was invalid because the government failed to seek public comment before extending the OPT period. The court decided not to outright declare the OPT extension invalid but instead gave the government six months to cure the problem and submit the extension for public comment.

Fortunately this means the problem could be fixed in six months, but if the court isn’t satisfied upon further review it could mean that students working on OPT may be forced to terminate their employment and leave the US.

Although the OPT extension program requires public comment as of now, the extension period is still valid up until February 12, 2016, the court given expiration date. Also, F-1 students may still apply for an OPT extension and be granted the extension until the six months has run.

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With the school year coming to a close, it’s time for foreign students to start thinking on ways to continue to remain in the United States, following the conclusion of their academic programs. Some college students on F-1 visas who are authorized to work pursuant to the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program are able to find jobs in their field of study and may continue to remain in the US  their stay on an H-1B visa. However, moving from an F-1/OPT directly to H-1B can create a gap of time between the expiration of the OPT and before the H-1B visa starts. Fortunately there is a Cap-Gap, which allows applicants with pending or approved H-1B’s to extend OPT work authorization to cover this gap.

What’s required for an F-1 extension?

students-1197349-mIf you’ve secured an employer that will apply for an H-1B on your behalf, it’s essential that the H-1B is timely filed. The H-1B should be applied while the OPT is still in effect.

If the H-1B application is selected in the lottery and approved, an automatic F1/OPT extension will take place. On October 1st when the H-1B visa can officially take effect, the applicant should request a change of status. This will allow for a smooth transition from F-1/OPT to H-1B.

Things to watch out for

  • If the H-1B application is not chosen in the CAP or the H-1B application is denied, the applicant will be granted a 60-day grace period. During this time the applicant must make plans to leave the United States.
  • Once an applicant enters the 60-day grace period, the applicant is no longer authorized to legally work inside the United States.

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President Obama’s “Immigration Accountability Executive Action” proposes several changes to the immigration system many of which could affect employment-based visas. The proposed changes could be good news for employees and employers by decreasing wait times for certain classifications, allowing spouses of H-1B visa holders to work and in some cases increasing the amount of time a employee can remain on his visa.

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The employment-based changes will affect green cards, H-4, L-1B, OPT and PERM classifications.

Ex
ecutive Action re Pre-Registration for Adjustment Cases
Main proposals:

  • Decrease wait time to file adjustment of status
  • Pre-register for green card and receive green card benefits while waiting for approval
  • Allow the temporary non-immigrant visa holder to change jobs while before green card is approved

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Many universities are home to foreign students from all over the world. These foreign students spend four years earning a phenomenal degree from American universities while also building friends and network connections. However, for many of these students are forced to leave the United States because they haven’t secured proper post-graduate visas. A F-1 student visa, which is what most if not all of these students are covered under, is temporary and only allows a person to stay in the United States as long as they are a student. In this article, we will explore what kind of options are available to F-1 visa holding foreign students after graduation.

F-1 -> OPT

Although there is no such thing as an “OPT visa”, a student may extend their F-1 status if they can secure optional practical training (OPT). There is a maximum of a single 12 month extension and starts upon graduation or completion of course of study. This is mostly handled through the F-1 student’s school’s international students department.

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