Optional Practical Training (OPT) is work authorization available to international students who have been in valid F-1 status for at least one full academic year and who plan to seek employment in the U.S. in their field of study.
OPT is recommended by the Office of International Affairs, but final approval is granted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
Requirements for OPT:
Pre-completion OPT allows students who have not yet completed a degree program to be authorized for off-campus employment. The application process for pre-completion OPT is the same as for other types of OPT and requires 2-3 months processing by USCIS.
Post-completion OPT provides for up to one year of practical training authorization after completion of studies. Students can apply up to 90 days before and up to 60 days after program end date.
Students who have received a bachelor’s, master’s or doctoral degree in certain STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields may be eligible to apply for a one-time 24-month extension of post-completion OPT.
In general, F-1 students who have been in the U.S. for no more than five different calendar years are exempt from Social Security taxes. You should be sure to bring this to the attention of your employer because many employers are not familiar with this provision of the tax laws. Students in F-1 status are subject to all other taxes that may apply, including federal, state and local. For more information, please consult with a tax professional and/or Publication 519 of the Internal Revenue Service.
F-1 students are responsible for complying with all immigration regulations, including employment regulations. Working without the proper authorization is a serious violation of nonimmigrant status in the U.S. If a student fails to comply, he or she may not be eligible for benefits normally granted to F-1 students and may jeopardize his or her stay in the U.S. Prior to accepting any employment in the US, students should consult with the Office of International Affairs.
Please check USCIS website for updated listing.