Happy Memorial day! THANK YOU to all the veterans who risked their lives to ensure freedom. Happy Democracy day to those celebrating today! I pray all people, irrespective of race, ethnicity or religion can experience true democracy.
My weekend was AMAZING y’all! Friday I did ABSOLUTELY NOTHING and it felt great! Saturday, my boo took me out on a date and had an amazing night planned afterwards. Sunday, we attended an open mic night. Poetry, neo-soul, jazz. It was great! I am so grateful to God for life!
So, I thought we could start this week with some good stuff. OPT! OPT this, OPT that! What is OPT? Who can get an OPT? When to use your OPT? A lot of F1 students wait for graduation to think about OPT. That is a bad idea!
OPT is an optional practical training. It is a year given by the U.S. government to international students to practice (work) in their field of study. OPT ,depending on your major, can be extended. OPT is not mandatory.
How does the OPT work? Well you need a job and graduation. The main challenge is getting a job. Once you find a job, you request for OPT and pay for Form I-765. Once application is accepted, You get your EAD card(work permit), your international office will acknowledge the changes on your form I-20, and you can happily start working. It is a whole process, so it is better to start early!
SOME THINGS TO REMEMBER:
- Check if your major qualifies for an extension: You might hear STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) majors qualify for an OPT extension. What you may not know is that not ALL STEM majors qualify. Even though my major was Health Sciences, at that time, it did not qualify for an extension. Search for your major here: https://www.ice.gov/sites/default/files/documents/Document/2016/stem-list.pdf
- Do not rely on your OPT: A lot of things change, companies shut down and people get fired. While I am not hoping that happens to you, I hope you keep your options open. Just incase your OPT does not work out the way you planned.
- What comes next: As a foreigner you always have think of the next step. What are your ideas post-OPT, a year or even 2 years goes by fast. Are you considering grad school? have you started the application and written the GRE? Are you hoping that your job will file you a H1B visa? Have you spoken to HR? OPT and life after OPT is so time sensitive, You need a strong game plan!
- Do not wait: Don’t wait until senior year to start applying to jobs that will hire OPT/ file H1B. I always tell my clients, use the summer (after freshman year) to research companies. The following summers intern with them. Make this system work for you and wiggle your way into the company. This can be a sure way to get hired even after your OPT expires.
NB: You have 90 days after the expiration of your OPT to leave the United States. Please go through this website THOROUGHLY. It has a lot of information on pre/post OPT: https://studyinthestates.dhs.gov/sevis-help-hub/update-records/maintain-student-records/fm-student-employment/f-1-optional-practical-training#general_information