Optional Practical Training


Employment and Maintenance of Status (OPT)

To remain in status, it is extremely important that you follow the Federal regulations about employment. As an international student, you must contact CGE to obtain work authorization before you accept employment. Never work without getting authorization!

Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows you to gain experience in your field of study prior to or after graduation. Most F-1 students who have been in student status for at least nine months are eligible for up to 12 months of OPT. While on post-completion OPT, you still will be considered an F-1 student under the responsibility of the Center for Global Education. Central State University is responsible for notifying SEVIS of any changes in your address, or if you terminate OPT, or if you begin a new program. You must remember to update us with these changes.

You must apply for OPT before you complete your last degree requirement. Authorization for OPT is granted by the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. Applications are submitted to the CIS Service Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Here is the address:

USCIS
Texas Service Center
PO Box 21281
Phoenix, AZ 85036

Since you must have authorization before you commence employment, be sure to apply well in advance. We recommend three months prior to expected graduation. Before accepting employment, please check with CGE for the current processing time as processing at CIS can take up to 3 months.

You may use OPT part time during the fall and/or spring semesters, part time or full time during vacations, or full time after graduation. You are limited to a total of 12 months while you are an F-1 student and for each degree program.

 

How to Obtain Employment Authorization for Optional Practical Training:

  1. Visit CGE online or come to the office for the necessary application materials.
  2. When ready to submit your application, call CGE to make an appointment.
  3. Because you are seeking OPT in your field of study, enter “(c) (3) (i)” under item 16 of Form I-765.
  4. Take the completed application to your appointment in CGE.

In CGE, an advisor will review your application and answer any questions you may have about OPT. CGE will submit the application to CIS on your behalf, unless you elect to do so. The application for OPT consists of the following items:

  1. Form I-538--Practical Training Information Sheet, completed and signed http://uscis.gov/graphics/formsfee/forms/files/i-538.pdf
  2. Form I-765 – Application for Employment Authorization, completed and signed http://uscis.gov/graphics/formsfee/forms/files/i-765.pdf
  3. Two color, standard, full-frontal passport photos. This link provides specifics of the photograph: http://www.uscis.gov/files/form/m-603.pdf
  4. Originals of all I-20s
  5. Copy of the name page and photo page of your passport
  6. Copies of any previous Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) (both sides)
  7. Copy of I-94 card (both sides)
  8. Letter from the Chairperson of your department confirming your expected completion of studies date and type of degree you will earn
  9. Check or money order made out to CIS (verify amount with CGE before submission)

NOTE:

  1. Applications for OPT must be received by CIS before the program end date (as indicated on the I-20). CGE may refuse to mail an application that is turned in less than 7 days before your program end date.
  2. You must receive the employment authorization before you start working. You may not begin employment prior to the date indicated on the employment authorization card.
  3. You must notify CGE every time you change your address.

 

Social Security

After receiving your employment authorization, you must update your records with the Social Security Administration. To do so, take your Employment Authorization Document (EAD), Social Security card, I-20, and passport to the local Social Security Administration office. That is where to apply for a Social Security card. The application form is available through this link: http://ssa.gov/online/ss-5.pdf. Complete the application before going to the SSA. This is contact information for the SSA in Xenia:

469 Dayton Ave
Xenia, OH 45385
(937) 372-9813
Hours: 9:00 AM to 3:30 PM

If possible, do this before leaving town, for it may be more difficult to update your information in another city. Social Security Tax (FICA) should not be withheld from your wages while you are on practical training. However, your earnings are subject to federal, state, and local income taxes.

 

Economic Necessity Employment

Supporting materials documenting necessity:

  1. Transcript or academic record
  2. Form I-765, completed
  3. Passport (photocopy)
  4. Form I-94 (photocopy)
  5. Current Form I-20

 

The chart below is a summary of employment eligibility by visa type.

 

Visa Type

On-Campus Employment

Off-Campus Employment

F-1

Students enrolled full time and in good academic standing can be authorized to work on campus up to 20 hours a week during the academic year and full time during university breaks, including summer. Apply in CGE.

Conditions for accepting on-campus employment:

  1. Work occurs on the Central State premises
  2. Employment is limited to 20 hours per week while school is in session, and full time during breaks
  3. Student must be pursuing a full course of study or, if employed during the summer holidays, intend to register for the next semester at Central State
  4. Employment must begin no sooner than 30 days prior to the start of classes for new students with initial entry to a new program

F-1 students are eligible to work in their field of study after taking classes full time for nine months. This type of work is called “practical training” and requires the consent of the department chairperson or the dean. If you are interested, please contact CGE for further information.

Students experiencing economic hardship should make an appointment with the Foreign Student Advisor by calling 502-5977-6361. Employment may be authorized in certain cases.

Economic Necessity Employment

  1. Supporting materials documenting necessity
  2. Transcript or academic record
  3. Form I-765
  4. Passport (photocopy)
  5. Form I-94 (photocopy)
  6. Current Form I-20

F-2

You are not allowed to work if you have an F-2 visa.

You are not allowed to work if you have an F-2 visa.

J-1

Students enrolled full time and in good academic standing can be authorized to work on campus up to 20 hours a week during the academic year and full time during university breaks including summer. Apply in CGE. For J-1 students: If another institution or sponsor issued your DS-2019 (look in section 2 of your DS-2019 if you are not sure), you need to obtain a letter of work permission from that sponsor or agency before applying for work authorization in CGE.

Students enrolled full time and in good academic standing may be eligible to work in their field of study or in situations of unforeseen economic need. Work can be for up to 20 hours a week during the academic year and full time during university breaks, including summer. Apply for authorization in CGE.

J-2

If you are on a J-2 visa, you can apply for permission to work either on campus or off campus. Your application for a work permit must be submitted to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) and can take three months to process. Information is available in CGE.

If you are on a J-2 visa, you can apply for permission to work either on campus or off campus. Your application for a work permit must be submitted to the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) and can take three months to process. Information is available in CGE.

 

Social Security: Social Security tax (FICA) should not be withheld from the wages of an F-1 student on practical training if the student is classified as a non-resident for tax purposes. Earnings are, however, still subject to federal, state, and local taxes.

 

F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT)

F-1 Optional Practical Training is authorized employment which is related to a student’s field of study. Most F-1 students are eligible for 12 months of Optional Practical Training. Persons on practical training are still considered F-1 students at Central State, documented by a Central State I-20 for travel purposes, even though they may be working elsewhere in the U.S.

J-1 Academic Training (AT)

J-1 students are eligible for 18 months of authorized employment in their field of study after they finish a degree OR while pursuing a degree or study program. Employment must be related to the student’s field of study. Application for academic training should be made at least one week before beginning work if prior to graduation, or within 30 days of the completion of studies if used as after graduation. The student must have a job offer related to the field of study in order to receive academic training authorization. A complete description and handout are available in the Center for Global Education.

 

Employment Based on Economic Need

F-1 Off-Campus Work Authorization

F-1 students who do not qualify for employment under Practical Training may be eligible to apply to CIS for off-campus work authorization based on economic hardship due to unforeseen circumstances. It is generally difficult to obtain this authorization. Students with financial problems should make an appointment to see a Designated School Official by contacting the Center for Global Education at 937-376-6398 or globaled@centralstate.edu.

J-1 Off-Campus Work Authorization

J-1 students may be able to work off campus if the student is able to show unforeseen financial hardship. J-1 students with financial problems should make an appointment to see a Designated School Official in the Center for Global Education at 937-376-6398 or globaled@centralstate.edu.

J-2 Work Authorization

Persons in J-2 status must request work permission from the CIS before accepting employment, whether on or off campus. CIS issues an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to J-2 applicants who would like to work. To obtain the EAD, it is necessary to complete an application and send the required documents, with a filing fee, to CIS. For complete information and application materials, contact the Center for Global Education at 937-376-6398 or globaled@centralstate.edu to make an appointment regarding J-2 work authorization. CIS can take three months or longer to process a J-2 Employment Authorization Application.