F-1 CPT, OPT & STEM OPT

OISS will not need to issue immigration documentation for a scholar in this visa status (unless their F-1 is sponsored by Rice, i.e. they are/were a Rice student). However, OISS must still receive a copy of the PAF / Hiring Proposal and offer letter, and the scholar must attend an OISS check-in appointment before or on their first day of employment, to ensure immigration compliance requirements are met.

International Scholars on F-1 status require work authorization either through CPT (Curricular Practical Training), OPT (Optional Practical Training), or the STEM OPT Extension. Since OPT and STEM OPT are extensions of the F-1 student status, we will refer to the international employee as "student" in the information below.

CPT

CPT (Curricular Practical Training) authorization is available for F-1 students currently pursuing a degree in the U.S. and is provided by their F Program Sponsor.

Employment that is allowed on CPT

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) work authorization is available for employment/training opportunities that are directly related to the F-1 student's degree program.

Current Rice students with F-1 status sponsored by Rice do not require CPT authorization for on-campus employment.

Employment authorization documentation and when employment can start

The international office at the student's school will issue an updated I-20 to reflect CPT work authorization. Employment is only allowed for the dates indicated on the second page of the I-20 under "Employment Authorizations" and only for the listed employer. Part-time CPT permits employment up to 20 hours/week only.

OPT

OPT (Optional Practical Training) authorization is available for F-1 students either during or upon completing their studies, and requires approval from USCIS.

Employment that is allowed on OPT

During OPT, F-1 students may engage in one or multiple employment/training opportunities. Requirements include:

1) The employment must be directly related to the student's major field of study.
2) The employment must exceed 20 hours per week (multiple training opportunities can be combined to meet this requirement)
3) The employment can be paid, unpaid, or volunteering.

Employment authorization documentation and when employment can start

OPT applications are processed by USCIS and generally take several months. Once the OPT application has been approved, the F-1 student will receive an EAD card that is typically valid for 12 months. Employment may not begin until the student receives the OPT EAD from USCIS and is within the validity dates indicated on the card.

Immigration options at the end of OPT

Students with a degree from an eligible STEM field may be eligible for an additional 24 months of OPT under the STEM OPT Extension (see below). International employees who are not eligible to extend their F-1 OPT status will need to change to a different visa classification – typically the J-1 or the H-1B – in order to continue employment after the OPT EAD expires. Please consult an OISS advisor well in advance to discuss the visa options and procedures, as changing visa classifications can take several months.

STEM OPT

STEM OPT Extension authorization is available for F-1 students who hold a degree in an eligible STEM field, and allows them to extend their OPT work authorization for an additional 24 months with approval from USCIS.

Employment that is allowed on STEM OPT

During the STEM OPT extension, the F-1 student is only permitted to work for an employer who is enrolled in E-Verify, and is willing to commit to creating and supervising a training plan for the F-1 student and to following all the employer reporting requirements. Other requirements include:

1) The employment must be directly related to the student's major field of study.
2) The employment must exceed 20 hours per week.
3) The employment must be paid. Unpaid internships, volunteering, and unpaid research are not valid employment types on STEM OPT.
4) The terms and conditions (including duties, hours and compensation) must be commensurate with similarly situated U.S. workers.

Creating the Training Plan

As the employer, you must commit to creating and supervising a training plan that is reported on the Form I-983. On the form the employer must attest that the student will not replace a U.S. worker, and that the terms and conditions are commensurate with similarly situated U.S. workers (including duties, hours and compensation). In addition, you must respond to the following questions:

  • How are the student's assignments with the employer related to the student's STEM degree?
  • How will the assignments with the employer contribute to the student making progress toward professional goals and objectives?
  • How will the employer evaluate the student?
  • How will the employer supervise the student?

Completing the Form I-983 Training Plan

Completing the Form I-983 Training Plan will be the responsibility of the hiring department. For official instructions on how to complete the I-983, please see https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/stem-opt-hub/for-employers/employers-and-the-form-i-983.

It is recommended that page 2 of the Form I-983 is signed by the Department Chair or Department Administrator, and page 4 of the Form I-983 is signed by the PI or immediate supervisor. Please note that the form should be signed in ink, electronic/digital signatures are not currently accepted.

Here is the information you may need in order to complete page 2 of the Form I-983:
Employer Name: Rice University
Employer ID Number (EIN): 741109620
Number of Full-Time Employees in the U.S.: 3886
North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Code: 611310

If you require additional assistance with the information required for the completion of the Form I-983, please contact OISS or HR.

Reporting requirements for the employer

By signing the Form I-983, the department must be able to confirm the required information and commit to the following reporting requirements:

1) You must notify the employee's F-1 program sponsor regarding any changes/updates/deviations from Form I-983 as soon as possible.
2) You must notify the employee's F-1 program sponsor within 5 business days if employment is terminated.
3) You must sign the employee's self-evaluations on the Form I-983 that are due after the employee has completed 12 months of STEM OPT, 24 months of STEM OPT, and/or when the employment ends.
4) You understand that U.S. government officials can perform site visits anytime to ensure compliance.

Employment authorization documentation and when employment can start

STEM OPT applications are processed by USCIS, and once the STEM OPT Extension has been approved, the F-1 student will receive an EAD card that is typically valid for 24 months. However, a timely submitted STEM OPT Extension application grants a temporary work authorization for 180 days from the expiration date of the OPT EAD while the application is being adjudicated by USCIS. Therefore employment may begin or continue during that 180 day period even if the STEM OPT application is pending.

Immigration options at the end of STEM OPT

International employees will need to change to a different visa classification – typically the J-1 or the H-1B – in order to continue employment after the STEM OPT EAD expires. Please consult an OISS advisor well in advance to discuss the visa options and procedures, as changing visa classifications can take several months.