Where can you work while in OPT?

You can engage in OPT for any employer in the US. as long as the employment is related to your field of study and the work is appropriate for master level's work. You may work for more than one employer and/or change employers without USCIS authorization during your authorized OPT period, but you must remember to report your employment to OIS. The work may be paid or unpaid.  You may work as an independent contractor or even your own business. 

How long is the employment authorizaion while on OPT? Can it be extended?

You can do OPT for a cumulative maximum of 12 months during any uninterrupted stay in F-1 status. You may be authorized to do 12 months of OPT following each educational level, e.g., MA→PhD. For students who majored in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics), there is an additional 17-month extension; however, MIIS majors to not qualify.  There may also be an extension of OPT if you have an approved or receipted H-1b application.  Ask the OIS for more information on this.

What are the pre-conditions for OPT?

  • You must be in F-1 status at the time of the application.
  • You must be in good F-1 status.
  • You must have been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis at a DHS-approved school for one full academic year.
  • It is available before and after completion of your educational objective, but different rules apply to pre- and post-completion OPT.
  • Students in English language training programs are not eligible.

 

What is OPT?

OPT is defined as “temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student’s major area of study.” [8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(ii)] OPT allows F-1 students to gain practical experience in their field of study for one year following program completion. All students are eligible to apply for OPT as long as application procedures are followed.  Students who study English are not eligible for OPT.

When can I begin the visa application?

The Department of State can issue the visa for your program no more than 120 days prior to the start of your program as indicated on the I-20 or DS-2019. It is recommended that you apply for the visa as soon as possible.

When should I schedule my flight to the United States?

It is advisable that you schedule your flight to the U.S. after obtaining the F-1 visa and not before. Furthermore, the U.S. federal regulations mandate that you arrive in the U.S. no more than 30 days before the school report date listed on your I-20 or DS-2019. Please schedule your trip accordingly.

Who is considered a dependent? What do I need to do to bring them with me to the U.S.?

A dependent is considered your spouse (wife or husband) and children under the age of 21. Each of your dependents will be issued an I-20 or DS-2019.

What is the SEVIS fee requirement?

U.S. Embassies and Consulates are required to collect a $200 (F-1) or $180 (J-1) SEVIS fee before issuing F-1 or J-1 visas for first-time visa applicants only. For students who need F-1 or J-1 visa renewal while attending the Monterey Institute, this SEVIS fee is not applicable.