12-month Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows F-1 visa students the opportunity to gain part-time or full-time work experience in their field of study (academic major) after completion of their course of study. All F-1 students planning to apply for OPT are required to attend an OPT workshop in one of their final two semesters at A&M-Commerce.
All students are required to attend a 12-month OPT workshop in one of their final semesters at A&M-Commerce before they may apply for OPT. The OPT workshop is offered online and in person. Registration is required to attend and the deadline to register is 5pm the day before the workshop.
Upon completion of the 12-month OPT students in certain Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) majors may be eligible for the 24-month OPT STEM Extension.
The Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) states that the duration of status and 12-month or 24-month OPT work authorization may be extended for an F-1 student who is the beneficiary of a timely-filed H1-B petition that meets the following criteria:
• H1-B petition was filed as a change of status
• H1-B petition was filed during the H1-B acceptance period which begins April 1 while the student's OPT authorization was still in effect or the student had entered their 60 day period after the conclusion of their OPT authorization
• H1-B petition has an effective date or start date of October 1
• Student has not violated their F-1 visa status
All F-1 students are required to report their employment status, work address, and employer information to the ISSS while on approved 12-month or 24-month OPT. The Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) regulations state an F-1 student must report the following the ISSS within 10 days of any change. All information is reported through the OPT Reporting Form:
• Start of employment
• Any change of employment
• Any change in their current physical address where the you reside
• All information must be reported through the OPT Reporting Form. Once you have submitted your information an email confirmation will be sent within 24 hours of the submission. Please keep this email for your records.
Students on the 17-month or 24-month OPT STEM Extension will have additional reporting requirements as follows:
• Must report current employer's information every 6 months after the EAD card start date for the OPT Extension through the OPT Reporting Form
• Students on OPT STEM Extension must submit an Annual Self-Evaluation due no later than 12 months and 24 months after the EAD start date for their OPT STEM Extension
Students may review the information below regarding traveling outside the U.S. while their OPT application is pending and once their OPT has been approved.
The travel signature (on the second page of the I-20) is valid for six months from the date of the signature for re-entry to the U.S. To request a travel signature for your I-20 you will need to submit the Travel Signature Request Form and include all required documents listed on the form.
Students on approved OPT may apply for a Social Security Number once they have been offered employment and received their EAD card (Employment Authorization Document). Students may take their OPT I-20, passport, visa, copy of I-94, and a job offer letter with their employment start date to the nearest Social Security Administration Office to apply
If a student's OPT application is pending (not approved) with USCIS the student will not be able to apply for a driver's license or renew their license until their OPT application is approved by USCIS and the student has received their EAD card (Employment Authorization Document). Students on Cap Gap Extension may experience issues when attempting to apply for or renew their driver's license if their H1-B petition is pending (not approved) by USCIS.
The average USCIS Service Center processing time for the Form I-765 (OPT) is 2-3 months from the date of the I-765 Receipt Notice. Occasionally an application may take longer than 3 months for USCIS to process and students need now worry if their application is taking longer than normal or longer than their friends application. OPT processing times vary at any given time due to a number of factors including a higher volume of applications or USCIS staff turnover.
Students whose OPT application is pending more than 75 days from the receipt notice date may take the following steps: