Students on OPT
The Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), within the Department of Homeland Security, requires schools to maintain certain information in SEVIS for all students currently completing OPT (optional practical training). As an F-1 student on OPT, you continue to be under Rice's sponsorship. As such, we must continue to maintain your SEVIS records accurate, so that you will remain in valid visa status.
Maintaining Status on OPT
- Provide copy of EAD card to OISS to keep on file
- Maintain employment, as students on OPT who have accrued more than a total of 90 days of unemployment are considered to be out of status
- Depart the US within the 60 day grace period following completion of your OPT
- Request STEM OPT extension from OISS, if eligible, within 90 days prior to completion of OPT
- Request Cap-Gap extension from OISS if you have applied for H-1B
- Submit updates for any changes your address, your employer, or your visa status. You must report the information to OISS within 10 days so we may properly and accurately update your SEVIS record.
Note: Once you change visa status to something other than F-1, you are required to use Form AR-11 to report your change of address.
Travel Abroad and Re-Entering the U.S. with OPT After Graduation:
It is not advisable to leave the U.S. while waiting for an EAD to arrive. Re-entry may be denied. F-1 students authorized for OPT after graduation can travel outside the U.S. and re-enter as long as they have all the following documents:
- Passport valid at least 6 months.
- Unexpired F-1 visa stamp in the passport.
- I-20 form endorsed for travel (on page 3) by a Designated School Official within the last six months.
- Valid EAD issued by USCIS.
- Letter of employment offer or verification
Travel Abroad and Re-Entering the U.S. with OPT Before Graduation:
Travel prior to graduation, yet pending OPT approval also requires extreme caution. While traveling before the end date on your I-20 may incur fewer risks, it still may negatively impact your OPT application and/or entry back into the U.S.
Social Security Number (SSN) Application Process for Students
In general, F-1 students who have been in the U.S. for less than five years are exempt from social security taxes (also called F.I.C.A. tax). Be sure to bring this to the attention of the employer because many employers are not familiar with this provision of the tax laws. F-1 students authorized for practical training employment are subject to all other taxes that may apply: federal, state, and local. However, the entire period of practical training may be treated as an extended business trip and substantially reduce federal taxes by deducting "travel expenses" (amounts for food, housing, and transportation) from the income earned. Consult an accountant or tax attorney for more information about this second provision of the tax laws.
Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9 Form):
Within the first three days of beginning work, both the employee and employer must complete a form entitled “Employment Eligibility Verification” (USCIS Form I-9). This form will be kept on file by the employer and must be updated each time renewal of the work permission is received.
- F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) Tutorial
Optional Practical Training is one of the two types of temporary employment available to students in legal F-1 status. This tutorial guides you through the details of OPT and the application procedure; please schedule an appointment with your International Student Advisor for further information about OPT.
- F-1 Optional Practical Training Handout
Optional Practical Training is one of the two types of temporary employment available to students in legal F-1 status. This handout outlines the application procedure; please schedule an appointment with your International Student Advisor for further information about OPT. Please come by OISS to pick up a complete OPT packet.
- F-1 STEM OPT
This website provides information on the 24-month STEM extension, important resources, as well as the STEM Extension Tutorial and the STEM STEM Extension Handout.
- STEM OPT and Cap-Gap Interim Final Rule - On April 8, 2008, DHS published an Interim Final Rule (IFR) titled Extending Period of Optional Practical Training by 17 Months for F-1 Nonimmigrant Students With STEM Degrees and Expanding Cap-Gap Relief for All F-1 Students With Pending H-1B Petitions.
- STEM Designated Degree Programs - Click here for a list of majors that are qualify as a STEM major.