OPT Q&A 01

  1. How does OPT work exactly?
  • OPT allows you to work in the US for 12 months.
  •  If you don’t have a job for more than 90 days combined during OPT period, your OPT is not valid anymore. (In another word, you need to stay employed 9/12 months during OPT.)
  • You may do OPT before graduation.
  • STEM majors can apply for extension of OPT for up to 24 months
  1. Is there anything you should be aware?
  • Preparing OPT
    • Processing time can take months so apply early (about 3 months if all goes well)
    • Mailing address: If you think you might be moving, ask a friend to use their address. changing address add much more time and headache.
    • Starting date: Unless you have a job, pick a later starting date. If you apply for H1B later, this will also help decreasing time gap between your OPT and H1B.
    • Check your application status online:
    • Any errors, changes, questions about application? Did you get ‘Request for Evidence’ from USCIS asking for more information from you?: contact your school ASAP for the best assistance with individual cases
  • After OPT approval
    • EAD card:Even if your OPT gets approved, you can’t work until you have actual EAD card
    • Starting date: You also can’t work until your OPT starting date arrives
    • Unemployment: You need to be employed at least 9 month/12 month (for more details go back to number 1)
    • Updates: You need to update your school of your address, and employer information every time it changes.
    • Got EAD?: apply for SSN ASAP
    • International Travel: get signature from your school on I-20
    • Grace period: After OPT, you can stay in the US for up to 60 days (no work allowed during this 60 days)
  1. How long does the OPT application process take?
  1. How do I select OPT starting date?
  • OT students, get your OPT as late as possible since you need to get the license first to start working as an OT (but still apply early!). Getting the license can take a lot of time too.
  • As mentioned above in number 2, unless you have a job, pick a later starting date. If you apply for H1B later, this will also help decreasing time gap between your OPT and H1B.

Good luck everyone and let me know if you have more questions!

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