While studying in the United States, F-1 students must:
- Attend and pass all the classes. If the school seems too difficult, one should contact the DSO immediately.
- If the beneficiary believes that he/she will be unable to complete the program by the end date listed on Form I-20, he/she should contact the DSO and request the date extension.
- The beneficiary must take an entire course of study each term. If the beneficiary cannot study full-time, one must immediately reach out to the DSO.
- One must also avoid dropping a class without first speaking with the DSO.
➡Annual Vacation for F-1 Students
F-1 students must complete at least one full academic year at a SEVP-certified school to be eligible for a yearly vacation. Additionally, students must enroll in classes the next academic term after their annual vacation. Students can take as many, as few, or no classes as they like during their annual vacation. All studies done during an annual vacation are considered incidental to status by SEVP.
➡Work and Practical Training for F-1 Students
In some cases, an F-1 student may only work with the permission of a DSO. In others, the permission of USCIS must be obtained. You will need to leave the U.S. immediately if you choose to work without authorization, and you may not be permitted to return at a later date.During the program of study, F students are eligible for curricular practical training (CPT) at either the undergraduate or graduate level. Employment as a CPT must be part of an established curriculum and must be directly related to your primary field of study. The school’s policy on this option can be obtained from your DSO. Optional practical training is available to F students during or after their program of study. OPT is a type of temporary work directly related to your academic program.
Keep reading for more information about training options that are available to the beneficiary –
F-1 students are eligible for two types of F-1 practical training:-
- Optional practical training (OPT)
- Curricular practical training (CPT)
Optional Practical Training
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a kind of temporary employment directly related to an F-1 student’s major area of study. Eligible students can apply to receive up to 12 months of OPT employment authorization before completing their academic studies (pre-completion) and/or after completing their academic studies (post-completion). However, all periods of pre-completion OPT will be deducted from the available period of post-completion OPT.
Types of OPT
All OPT must be directly related to the beneficiary’s major area of study. The student eligible for OPT can participate in OPT in two different ways-
One may apply for pre-completion OPT after being lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for one full academic year at a college, university, conservatory, or seminary that has been certified by the U.S.Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to enroll F-1 students. The beneficiary does not need to have the F-1 status for the one full academic year. One can satisfy the “one full academic year” requirement even if he/she had another nonimmigrant status during that time.If the beneficiary is authorized to participate in pre-completion OPT, he/she can work part-time (20 hours or less per week) while school is in session. However, the beneficiary may work full-time when school is not in session.
The applicant may apply to participate in post-completion OPT once the studies have been completed. If one is authorized for post-completion OPT, he/she may work part-time (20 hours or less per week) or full time. If the applicant participated in pre-completion OPT, USCIS would deduct that duration from your post-completion OPT authorization period.
➡STEM OPT Extension
If the beneficiary has earned a degree in certain science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, he/she may apply for a 24-month extension of the post-completion OPT employment authorization provided:
- The beneficiary received a STEM degree included on the STEM Designated Degree Program
- He/she was employed by an employer who is enrolled in and is using E-Verify; and
- The beneficiary received an initial grant of post-completion OPT employment authorization based on the STEM degree.
If you are interested in applying for a STEM OPT extension, you can reach out to our immigration lawyers for assistance.
➡Applying for OPT
The beneficiary must:
- Request the designated school official (DSO) at your academic institution to recommend the OPT. The DSO will make the recommendation by endorsing your Form I‑20, Certification of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status, and making the appropriate notation in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
- Properly file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization with USCIS, accompanied by the required fee and the supporting documentation as described in the form instructions.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT)
To be considered for the CPT training, it is crucial that –
- Training is directly related to the student’s main field of study
- Training is an integral component of the school’s curriculum
- CPT was permitted on SEVIS by designated school officials (DSO), and the authorization was printed on the student’s Form I-20.
- Occurs before the student’s Form I-20 programme termination date
- Authorization is granted to a single employer for a set length of time
- Students must secure the training opportunity before CPT can be authorised
- Before the student can start working, CPT must be approved
- At the same time, students might have multiple CPT authorizations
- After one year of full-time CPT, a student’s eligibility for OPT is revoked
The DSO can authorise CPT for an F-1 student enrolled at a SEVP-certified college, university, conservatory, or seminary if the beneficiary –
- Is lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis for at least a full academic year. Note: Exception exists for students in graduate studies whose programs require earlier training.
- Is not studying English as a second language
- Has secured a training position
➡CPT Process Overview
Step:1 Student requests CPT using the school’s established processes
Step:2 DSO reviews requests and determines student’s eligibility for CPT
Step:3 DSO authorises CPT in SEVIS for a specific employee and prints and signs Form I-20 with CPT authorization.
Step:4 Student begins to work in or after the CPT date
As you can see, the visa application process for F-1 status is a bit taxing and involves keeping in mind several aspects. Immigration Lawyers at the Law Office Of Prashanthi Reddy, PLLC, New York are aware of the issues involved in the F-1 visa USA, including problems with SEVIS, Optional Practical Training, Curricular Practical Training, transferring schools, consular processing, STEM students, etc. We can guide you through the dos and Don’ts in the application process for an F-1 visa and can help you file all the documents on time. For more information, contact The Law Offices of Prashanthi Reddy at email@example.com, or call us at 212-354-1010.