The F1 student visa program in the United States offers international students the opportunity to gain on-the-job training and work experience. However, there are common mistakes that students make which can hinder their ability to work in the US under this program. In this blog post, we will discuss the top five F1 student visa work issues and how to avoid them to maximize your employment opportunities in the US.
Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Permission from School
During your time as an F1 student, you may have the opportunity to engage in Curricular Practical Training (CPT) which allows you to work while attending classes. However, it is crucial to obtain permission from your school and ensure that the necessary forms, such as the I-20, are updated to reflect your employment period. Failure to adhere to these requirements can result in complications with your student visa status.
Timely Issuance of Form I-20 for Optional Practical Training (OPT)
When applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT) after graduation, it is essential that the Form I-20, which updates your OPT status, is issued within 30 days of submission. Delays in the issuance of this form can lead to rejections or denials of your work permit application, potentially jeopardizing your employment prospects in the US.
Timely Filing for OPT and Employment Authorization
The filing window for OPT opens 90 days before graduation and closes 60 days after graduation. It is imperative to submit your OPT application within this timeframe to avoid missing out on employment opportunities. Additionally, filing for OPT as soon as possible allows for timely resolution of any issues that may arise during the application process.
Monitoring Unemployment Periods and STEM OPT Extension
While on OPT, students are allowed a maximum of 90 days of unemployment. It is crucial to keep track of your employment status to avoid exceeding the permitted unemployment period. For those eligible for the STEM OPT extension, which applies to individuals in science, technology, engineering, and math fields, the total unemployment period is extended to 150 days. Adhering to these guidelines is essential to maintain compliance with F1 visa regulations.
Reporting Changes to School and USCIS
Students must notify their school of any changes in employment, including switching employers and updating personal information such as addresses. Additionally, filing a Change of Address form (Form AR-11) with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is a legal requirement for all non-citizens. Failure to report these changes can result in legal repercussions and may impact your immigration status.
It is crucial to stay informed and compliant with the regulations surrounding F1 student visa work issues to avoid potential pitfalls that could jeopardize your ability to work in the US. By proactively addressing these common issues, international students can maximize their opportunities for on-the-job training and future employment prospects in the United States.