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International Students’ Work Options Marilyn Vogler, PhD Immigration Advisor Associate Director, IPS Spring 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "International Students’ Work Options Marilyn Vogler, PhD Immigration Advisor Associate Director, IPS Spring 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 International Students’ Work Options Marilyn Vogler, PhD Immigration Advisor Associate Director, IPS Spring 2009

2 Employment Authorization – Some Basics Unauthorized work can get both the student and the employer in trouble. “Authorized” means the work documents are in hand. Students must follow multiple sets of rules: Homeland Security, MTU, Career Center, Graduate School & Employer.

3 This Presentation This presentation is about F-1 student employment. I will discuss J-1 regulations in a separate workshop. I will address only Homeland Security / USCIS rules – not Career Center, Graduate School, or Employer rules.

4 More Basics … Student on authorized off-campus work remain Michigan Tech students. You must keep in touch with IPS: ◦ Update address changes ◦ Update employer / unemployment ◦ Update visa status changes ◦ IPS signs your I-20 for travel if necessary. ◦ IPS transfers your SEVIS record for continued education.

5 Staying in Touch – MTU Email Current practice is that your MTU email will remain active as long as you use/check it regularly. Please check it at least weekly for IPS updates. IF you have graduated, you may have your MTU email forwarded to another address: ard/index.html ard/index.html

6 On-Campus Employment “On-Campus” means ◦ MTU cuts the check (MTU or sponsor money) ◦ Agency, e.g., Argonne, sets up contract through MTU to pay student for co-op or internship Does not require any authorization beyond student status & normal employment forms 20 hours / week when school is in session 40 hours / week during breaks and vacation

7 Off-Campus Employment Requires authorization from or through International Programs & Services (IPS) Authorization is formal – shows up on the student’s immigration papers (I-20) Can be full- or part-time Off-campus means someone else cuts the check ◦ Corporate, government, etc. employer ◦ Faculty with consulting business

8 Types of Off-Campus Employment CPT – Curricular Practical Training OPT – Optional Practical Training Unforeseen Severe Economic Hardship

9 Why work off-campus? Try out employment in your major Employer gets to know you – some only hire from co-op pool Experience other areas of the US Earn extra $$s Looks good on your resumé Follow family while you finish up No courses that you need are being offered Unforeseen Severe Economic Hardship Etc.

10 General Requirements – OPT/CPT and Academic Training Student must have been full-time student in US at least one full academic year. Employment may be called “co-op,” “internship,” “full-time,” etc. Must be related to student’s program.

11 General Requirements – “ Unforeseen Severe Economic Hardship” Student must have been full-time student in US at least one full academic year Does not need to be related to student’s program 20 hours per week during academic year 40 hours per week when school is not in session: breaks, vacations, summer Requires unexpected hardship File I-765 like OPT

12 General Requirements – “ Unforeseen Severe Economic Hardship” To get student status you had to show the ability to pay for your education and support while in the United States. But … ◦ Financial need beyond the student's control ◦ Unforeseen at the time the student applied to the school he or she is currently attending ◦ All other potential employment opportunities have proven to be insufficient

13 General Requirements – “ Unforeseen Severe Economic Hardship” Examples include “Loss of financial aid or on-campus employment without fault on the part of the student, Substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate, Inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs, Unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student's source of support, Medical bills, Other substantial and unexpected expenses."

14 Is there a “bottom line?” … YES You cannot, must not, MAY NOT work off-campus without authorization from the IPS Immigration Advisor Any employer that hires you without authorization on your paperwork is paying you illegally. Working illegally could jeopardize your future status in the US.

15 How Do I Get Work Authorization? Check the IPS website: Details vary, but in general … ◦ Initiate job hunt ◦ Gather necessary paperwork ◦ Contact IPS  Bring in your paperwork for CPT  Make appointment for OPT / Academic Training / Economic Hardship

16 How do I know if I’m “authorized”? Registering for co-op credits does NOT mean you have employment authorization. Sending off an I-765 application does NOT mean you have employment authorization. Work Authorization must be recorded on your I-20 (page 3) or on an EAD card, but … You can apply for jobs in your area of study and tell the employer that you ARE eligible to work in the US, because …

17 CPT/OPT are promised benefits for which you can apply. However, Economic Hardship authorization is not guaranteed or promised.

18 Economic Hardship? Do not tell an off-campus employer you are authorized to work at a job that is outside your major area of study until you have your EAD card in hand.

19 Questions?

20 CPT? OPT? What’s the Difference?

21 CPT – Curricular Practical Training Must have job offer in hand to apply If you quit or are fired you must return to MTU to complete the credits and maintain status.

22 OPT – Optional Practical Training Student doesn’t need job offer to apply Student can remain unemployed for a limited time (90 days limit in 1 year) Generally post-completion, but can be pre- completion if necessary ◦ CPT time exhausted ◦ Employer requires it 12-month original limit, pre- and post- combined Extensions available for post-completion OPT

23 Where to find information …


25 Roles in the Authorization Process Student Academic Advisor Career Center IPS Immigration Advisor

26 What the student needs to do: Meet with academic advisor to get her/his approval or completion date Search for a job at the Career Center, the job fair, on-line, etc. Remember, the job must be related to your major unless you have an Economic Hardship EAD, but … You can apply for OPT without a job offer in hand.

27 Student’s tasks (continued) Complete the required paperwork for the Career Center and/or IPS – including signatures CPT – bring your paperwork to IPS and leave it OPT / Economic Hardship – make an appointment to see the IPS Immigration Advisor

28 Academic Advisor’s Role S/he can help you decide ◦ Which job offer to take ◦ How to meet the Career Center report requirements ◦ How long you should work ◦ What semester(s) would be best Your academic advisor’s approval is required for co-op, but … Your advisor’s approval is not required for other off-campus employment.

29 Career Center Role Employment search assistance Employability skills training ◦ Resumes, cover letters, mock interviews, etc. Help with required paperwork Verify major-relatedness Collect student assignment materials Assign a grade (undergrad)

30 Your IPS Advisor will … Review all the documents & paperwork Check to see if you’re eligible to work Issue the appropriate I-20 with work authorization noted Assist with preparation and mailing of applications (OPT / Economic Hardship) Helps track and follow-up on applications sent to USCIS Assist with extensions as requested

31 Questions?

32 CPT Authorization Authorization is internal to MTU Requires processing through Career Center ◦ Completion of paperwork ◦ Registration for Co-op credit(s) fall and spring Requires authorization of IPS ◦ Completion of paperwork ◦ Confirmation of registration if required ◦ Processing a new I-20 Can be done “same day” if necessary

33 OPT – Authorization Authorization is granted by USCIS. ◦ IPS assists with the application process. ◦ Approval takes 1-1/2 to 3 months. ◦ Having a job offer speeds up approval. ◦ It costs the student $340 to apply. ◦ The advisor must project a completion date as part of the OPT application process.  For undergrads, this is the standard end-of-term.  For grad students, it can be anytime.

34 CPT – More details Can be full- or part-time, but … ◦ Students taking a full course of study (12 or 9 credits) are not eligible for full-time employment. No limit on the amount of CPT available, but … ◦ 365 days of full-time CPT disqualifies you for OPT. Generally authorized on a semester-by- semester basis.

35 Applying for OPT You may apply anytime within 90 days of your completion date. You may apply up to 60 days after completion of your program (I-20 date). USCIS in Lincoln, NE, must RECEIVE your application by the 60 th day. You will have to pick a start date for your employment authorization.

36 When to apply for OPT … If you’re sure you’re graduating in … Springapply beginning early Feb Summerapply beginning late May Fallapply beginning late Sept BUT … do not apply unless you’re sure you’re going to graduate.

37 What does it mean to “complete” a degree? You do not “complete” simply because you walk in graduation. Undergrads complete on the last day of the term in which they finish all requirements. Grad students complete when they turn in all their paperwork to the Graduate School.

38 OPT … Do I wait for a job offer? You don’t have to have a job offer in hand to apply for OPT. Your application will be expedited if you include a copy of an offer letter. ◦ On the company’s letterhead ◦ Offers your name a job ◦ Describes the type of work you will be doing

39 Random Bits of Information about Practical Training OPT is a benefit. You earn 12 months of OPT per degree level. ◦ After an Associate Degree ◦ After a Bachelor’s ◦ After a Master’s ◦ After a PhD You can earn as many as 4 years of OPT, but you cannot accumulate years to use all at once. You get only ONE 17-month extension.

40 More random bits… 365+ days of full-time CPT will make you absolutely ineligible for OPT. Part-time CPT does not add up to any “equivalent” number of full-time days. It’s the student’s responsibility to calculate days (but there’s a tool on the IPS web to help).

41 And still more … Students on OPT: ◦ If post-completion, work must be full-time ◦ If coursework remains, it’s pre-completion & work must be part-time ◦ If you’re a Grad Student & only research and/or revisions, OPT is defined as “post- completion” – even if you haven’t completed. So …

42 Grad students … It’s okay if you miss the completion date on the I-20 by a little. The degree must, however, be completed before the OPT period expires!

43 Questions about applying for OPT or CPT?

44 While you are waiting for your EAD card … You are still an F-1 student. You can’t work on campus after you complete your degree. So you must have enough money for your living expenses while you are waiting. You cannot start a new degree.

45 While you’re waiting … You may not start working until you receive your card. Check the date on your card when it arrives. You may not start working until the start date listed on the EAD card.

46 OPT and Travel Traveling and OPT present some unique problems. First, getting your F-1 visa renewed while on OPT is next to impossible.

47 OPT and Travel Do not re-enter the US as a Tourist (B1/B2 status) or any other visa status, or you will lose the chance to use your OPT. You must enter as an F-1 Student.

48 OPT and Travel MUST If you travel after graduation, you MUST have all the usual F-1 travel documents, including a valid visa, plus … ◦ An EAD card or ◦ The USCIS receipt for your OPT application and ◦ Proof of employment

49 You can travel without a job offer letter, but it’s tricky! If you travel without a job offer letter, you must return to the country BEFORE your EAD card is issued. The time it takes is unpredictable at best! If you have an EAD card but no job, DO NOT TRAVEL.

50 OPT and Travel – after you start working You may travel after you start working. Your employer should provide a travel letter saying clearly that ◦ You are an F-1 student on OPT ◦ You are returning to resume employment with the employer You may even be able to get an expired visa renewed if your employer requires travel and will write a letter saying so.

51 OPT and Further Study You may choose to apply for additional study following your period of OPT. You may apply for another degree at the same school or at another school. You should request that IPS transfer your SEVIS record if it’s a new school. But “Authorization to engage in OPT employment is automatically terminated when the student transfers to another school or begins study at another educational level.” ( NAFSA )

52 OPT and Further Study Your OPT will be cancelled: ◦ On the “transfer release date” on which your SEVIS record is transferred to a new school OR ◦ When you have been accepted into AND register for courses toward a degree at a higher level at the same institution (MTU).

53 OPT and Further Study However: ◦ You CAN register for classes at the same school (even if they will count toward a higher degree or a degree in a different program) as long as you do not request a Change of Level or Change of Major and get a new I-20. ◦ You CAN register for workshop-type classes (like a short-course in how to take the GRE) or for non-degree classes as a “guest student” as long as an I-20 isn’t required.

54 I received my EAD card! Email your IPS Immigration Advisor (that’s me ) with the date that it arrived Send a copy to the IPS office Update your address with the IPS office We remain your immigration advisors for the duration of your OPT + 60 days UNLESS you obtain some other visa status.

55 Extensions … “Gap” extensions for those with an H1-B petition filed STEM extensions ◦ Science, Technology, Engineering, Math fields ◦ Employer registered with E-Verify

56 “Gap” extensions If your employer has filed an H1-B petition BEFORE your OPT expires Extension is “automatic” Requires you to request an extension from IPS ◦ Proof of filing ◦ Proof of pending status ◦ Proof of approval Extension is good until H-1B is effective / denied

57 17-Month STEM Extension ◦ Science, Technology, Engineering, Math fields  Chemical Engineering had been left out, but is now included ◦ Employer registered with E-Verify  Numbers are small but increasing ◦ Requires filing I-765 ◦ Requires filing BEFORE your OPT expires ◦ Service center must receive application BEFORE your OPT expires

58 17-Month STEM Extension ◦ Filed like original OPT ◦ Additional info required on I-765  Degree CIP Code  Employer’s name on I-765  Copy of transcript / diploma showing degree ◦ Employers seem to be handling these  I like to check I-765  I must provide an I-20  Request form on IPS website ◦ You may keep working before approval IF the application is filed by deadline

59 17-Month STEM Extension ◦ You MUST stay in touch with IPS and report any changes of address / employment / visa status. ◦ You MUST confirm employer every 6 months even if there are no changes. ◦ Final rules are not out – expected any time ◦ Things may change … again ◦ No word out on renewal of visa while on extension

60 After CPT, OPT CPT → completion of degree OPT → 60 days to begin H-1B, get a new I-20 for another academic program, leave the US (New academic program must begin within 5 months of end date of OPT) H1-B → 10 days to leave or transfer to new employer Some students apply for and get a “green card,” permanent residency.

61 Beyond the OPT → H1-B Students must have at least a BS to apply. Students do not have to have been on CPT or OPT. Employers sponsor and file for the H1-B. Application period opens April 1 for the following October 1 FY. That is, a student sponsored for an H1-B on April 1, 2008, could begin employment (if it’s approved) on October 1 2008.

62 Beyond the OPT → H1-B ??? There are quotas! The quotas for undergrads are filled within a day or two of April 1. There is a supplemental quota for persons with graduate degrees from US universities. Even at that, there are many more applicants than visas.

63 Questions?

64 Where to find information …

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