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Opt Dissertation

  1. 05-11-2013, 06:47 PM#1
    Join Date
    Nov 2010

    Applied for post-completion OPT but thesis pending

    My advisor underestimated the thesis effort/time review process and now my thesis has come back for revisions. I'm making the revisions but not sure if everything will be processed for end-may. I applied for post-completion OPT last month and my I-20 date for the OPT application is June 1 2013 to 2014.

    Let's say I do not graduate this month, and graduate in August(summer), would this be a problem? I asked my DSO and he said shouldn't be a problem because thesis is considered a separate track. I'm not sure about this though.
  2. 05-21-2013, 07:29 AM#2
    Join Date
    Nov 2010


    I found this from the USCIS Website:

    Sec. 214.2(f)(10)

    (10) Practical training . Practical training may be authorized to an F-1 student who has been lawfully enrolled on a full time basis, in a Service-approved college, university, conservatory, or seminary for one full academic year. This provision also includes students who, during their course of study, were enrolled in a study abroad program, if the student had spent at least one full academic term enrolled in a full course of study in the United States prior to studying abroad. A student may be authorized 12 months of practical tra ining, and becomes eligible for another 12 months of practical training when he or she changes to a higher educational level. Students in English language training programs are ineligible for practical training. An eligible student may request employment authorization for practical training in a position that is directly related to his or her major area of study. There are two types of practical training available: (Introductory text revised effective 1/1/03; 67 FR 76256 )

    (i) Curricular practical training programs . An F-1 student may be authorized by the DSO to participate in a curricular practical training program that is an integral part of an established curriculum. Curricular practical training is defined to be alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school. Students who have received one year or more of full time curricular practical training are ineligible for p ost-completion academic training. Exceptions to the one academic year requirement are provided for students enrolled in graduate studies that require immediate participation in curricular practical training. A request for authorization for curricular practical training must be made to the DSO. A student may begin curricular practical training only after receiving his or her Form I-20 with the DSO endorsement. (Revised effective 1/1/03; 67 FR 76256 )

    (A) Non-SEVIS process . A student must request authorization for curricular practical training using Form I-538. Upon approving the request for authorization, the DSO shall: certify Form I-538 and send the form to the Service's data processing center; endorse the student's Form I-20 ID with "full-time (or part-time) curricular practical training authorized for (employer) at (location) from (date) to (date)"; and sign and date the Form I-20ID before returning it to the student.

    (B) SEVIS process . To grant authorization for a student to engage in curricular practical training, a DSO at a SEVIS school will update the student's record in SEVIS as being authorized for curricular practical training that is directly related to the student's major area of study. The DSO will indicate whether the training is full-time or part-time, the employer and location, and the employment start and end date. The DSO will then print a copy of the employment page of the SEVIS Form I-20 indicating that curricular practi cal training has been approved. The DSO must sign, date, and return the SEVIS Form I-20 to the student prior to the student's commencement of employment.

    (ii) Optional practical training--

    (A) Consistent with the application and approval process in paragraph (f)(11) of this section, a student may apply to USCIS for authorization for temporary employment for optional practical training directly related to the student's major area of study. The student may not begin optional practical training until the date indicated on his or her employment authorization document, Form I-766. A student may be granted authorization to engage in temporary employment for optional practical training: (Paragraph (f) (10(ii)(A) revised 4/8/08; 73 FR 18944 ) (Paragraph (f)(10)(ii)(A) revised effective 1/1/03; 67 FR 76256 )

    ( 1 ) During the student's annual vacation and at other times when school is not in session, if the student is currently enrolled, and is eligible for registration and intends to register for the next term or session;

    ( 2 ) While school is in session, provided that practical training does not exceed 20 hours a week while school is in session; or

    ( 3 ) After completion of the course of study, or, for a student in a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree program, after completion of all course requirements for the degree (excluding thesis or equivalent). Continued enrollment, for the school's administrative purposes, after all requirements for the degree have been met does not preclude eligibility for optional practical training. A student must complete all practical training within a 14-month period following the completion of study, except that a 17- month extension pursuant to paragraph (f)(10)(ii)(C) of this section does not need to be completed within such 14-month period.

    (B) Termination of practical training . Authorization to engage in optional practical training employment is automatically terminated when the student transfers to another school or begins study at another educational level. (Revised effective 1/1/03; 67 FR 76256 )

    (C) 17-month extension of post-completion OPT for students with a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degree . Consistent with paragraph (f)(11)(i)(C) of this section, a qualified student may apply for an extension of OPT while in a valid period of post-completion OPT. The extension will be for an additional 17 months, for a maximum of 29 months of OPT, if all of the following requirements are met. (Revised 4/8/08; 73 FR 18944 )

    ( 1 ) The student has not previously received a 17-month OPT extension after earning a STEM degree.

    ( 2 ) The degree that was the basis for the student's current period of OPT is a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in one of the degree programs on the current STEM Designated Degree Program List, published on the SEVP Web site.

    ( 3 ) The student's employer is registered in the E-Verify program, as evidenced by either a valid E-Verify company identification number or, if the employer is using a designated agent to perform the E-Verify queries, a valid E-Verify client company identification number, and the employer is a participant in good standing in the E-Verify program, as determined by USCIS.

    ( 4 ) The employer agrees to report the termination or departure of an OPT employee to the DSO at the student's school or through any other means or process identified by DHS if the termination or departure is prior to end of the authorized period of OPT. Such reporting must be made within 48 hours of the event. An employer shall consider a worker to have departed when the employer knows the student has left the employment or if the student has not reported for work for a period of 5 consecutive business days w ithout the consent of the employer, whichever occurs earlier.

  3. 01-19-2018, 07:00 PM#3

    Please what happened with this ?
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Optional Practical Training (Initial 12 Months)

What is OPT?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is an opportunity for F-1 international students to participate in professional, temporary employment that is directly related to their major area of study, but not a part of the academic curriculum.

Video : What is OPT


To be eligible for OPT, you:

  • Do NOT need a job offer to apply
  • Must be in legal F-1 status
  • Must have completed two full time semesters* (Fall & Spring; Summer does not count)
    • *Approved Study Abroad counts if completed one full time semester in US prior to studying abroad
  • Must NOT have been previously authorized for 12 months of Full-Time CPT at the same degree level
  • Must NOT have been previously authorized for 12 months of OPT at the same level, or any OPT at a higher degree level

Note: Intensive English / AEC only students are NOT eligible for OPT.

How Much OPT Do You Have?

  • Eligible for 12 months of full time authorization with each higher level degree:
    • Bachelors – 12mo
    • Masters – 12mo
    • PhD – 12mo
  • Unused periods of eligibility from lower level degrees cannot be accumulated for use with later degrees at a higher level.
  • The 12 months may either be used entirely within one period of eligibility or split between any of the periods for which the student is eligible; however, each segment will require a separate application. ex: 12 months (1 app); split 5 months & 7 months (2 separate apps)
  • If pursuing another degree at the same level the 12 months can be divided between the two degrees.
  • Part-time OPT (available for pre-completion only) is deducted from the total amount of available full-time OPT at one-half the full-time rate (e.g. 4 months part time = 2 months full time).

*See the separate section on a possible 24-Month STEM OPT extension for students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) degrees.

When Can You Engage in OPT?

Definitions (in immigration terms):

  • —Pre-completion OPT = before completion of degree
  • Post-completion OPT = after completion of degree (some exceptions: see below for thesis/dissertation/final project graduate students)
  • Part Time (PT) OPT = employment of 20 hours or less per week
  • Full Time (FT) OPT = employment of more than 20 hours per week

Pre-Completion OPT

Post-Completion OPT

Fall/Spring Semesters*

Annual Vacation or Official Break

PT Only

PT or FT

FT Only

Thesis/Dissertation or Equivalent Students  (ex. Masters thesis/final project, PhD)

Pre-Completion OPT

Post-Completion OPT

Pre required coursework completion

Post required coursework completion*

[but still working on thesis/diss.]

Post degree completion

Fa/Spr Semesters*

Vacation or Break

PT Only

PT or FT

PT (as pre-comp) or FT (as pre/post-comp)

FT Only

*Note: Students in situations where * is marked must continue to enroll in a full course of study while on OPT.


Types of Employment Allowed

The job/training must be directly related to major

Employment options include paid and unpaid options: 

Paid employment  Students may work part-time (at least 20 hours per week when on post-completion OPT) or full-time.

  • Multiple employers. Students may work for more than one employer, but all employment must be related to the student’s degree program and for pre-completion OPT cannot exceed the allowed per week cumulative hours.
  • Short-term multiple employers (performing artists). Students, such as musicians and other performing artists may work for multiple short term employers (gigs). The student should maintain a list of all gigs, the dates and duration. If requested by DHS, students must be prepared to provide evidence showing a list of all gigs.
  • Work for hire. This is also commonly referred to as 1099 employment where an individual performs a service based on a contractual relationship rather than employment relationship. If requested by DHS, students must be prepared to provide evidence showing the duration of the contract periods and the name and address of the contracting company.
  • Self-employed business owner. Students on OPT may start a business and be self-employed. In this situation, the student must work full-time. The student must be able to prove that he or she has the proper business licenses and is actively engaged in a business related to the student’s degree program
  • Employment through an agency. Students on post-completion OPT must be able to provide evidence showing they worked an average of at least 20 hours per week while employed by the agency.

Unpaid employment  Students may work as volunteers or unpaid interns, where this does not violate any labor laws. The work must be at least 20 hours per week for students on post-completion OPT. These students must be able to provide evidence from the employer that the student worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of employment.

Importance of Your I-20 End Date for Post-Comp OPT

If your current I-20 end date is in a future semester, the end date will be shortened to reflect the expected date of your graduation as indicated on your academic advisor recommendation form:

  • Spring graduate: 5/31/20YY
  • Summer graduate: 8/1/20YY
  • Fall graduate: 12/31/20YY

For graduate students completing all degree requirements within the first two weeks of a term, the I-20 end date will reflect the date established by Graduate Studies by which no enrollment is required that term. (i.e. 06/16/2015 for Summer 2015).

IMPORTANT: If you do not complete your degree by your new I-20 end date, you must apply for a program extension prior to the expiration of your new OPT I-20. Failure to extend is a violation of status. There is an exception (see below) for students working on a thesis, dissertation or equivalent.

In all cases, you cannot work on campus past your I-20 end date unless you have seamless OPT approved and the work is directly related to your degree.

Thesis/Dissertation/Final Project (or equivalent) Students

Choosing Pre-Completion or Post-Completion

Students who have completed all of their required course work excluding their thesis, dissertation or equivalent have the option of applying for either Pre-Completion or Post-Completion OPT.

Weighing the Pros & Cons

Pre-Completion OPTPost-Completion OPT
Pros :
  • Unemployment rule does not apply
  • May receive an I-20 extension
  • May request Part Time or Full Time
  • Can continue on-campus employment until end of program
Cons :
  • Not eligible for STEM extension
  • Not eligible for H-1B cap-gap extension
Pros :
  • Eligible for the H-1B cap-gap extension if applicable.
  • Can apply for the STEM extension if eligible.
Cons :
  • 90-day unemployment rule applies
  • Only granted Full Time (must work at least 20 hrs/wk)
  • On-campus work permission ends with new I-20 end date (unless seamless OPT is approved)
  • Cannot extend I-20 if degree not completed before end of OPT

If applying for POST- completion OPT while continuing with thesis/dissertation or equivalent:

  • I-20 end date will be shortened to the day before the requested OPT start date
  • On-campus work permission ends with new I-20 end date
  • Must continue to enroll in a full course of study until you complete your degree
  • Must complete degree before the end of OPT (i.e. cannot extend I-20)​


When and How Do I Apply?  I've Applied, Now What?

STEM OPT Extension  H-1B Cap Gap OPT Extension

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