International Students

Employment for F1

On-Campus Employment at Rivier University

An F-1 student may accept on-campus employment provided he/she is enrolled in a full course of study and the employment does not displace a qualified U.S. resident. A maximum of 20 hours per week during the semester is allowed. During summer vacations and school breaks, full time (40 hrs) work is authorized. On-campus job opportunities are published by the University’s Financial Aid Office during the school year, and by the Human Resources Office in the summer. You must present to the Financial Aid office documents such as your SEVIS Form I-20, passport, and social security card when completing a Student Work Agreement.

Curricular Practical Training

Curricular practical training (CPT) refers to training that is a fundamental or an integral part of the existing curriculum. The training must be alternate work–study (alternating between classes and working); an internship or practicum that is offered by a sponsoring employer through an agreement with the school. CPT may be granted by the International Student Advisor/Designated School Official in increments of no more than one year. Engaging in CPT for more than one year may affect your eligibility to apply for Optional Practical Training. CPT may also be approved for part-time 20 hours during the semester or over 20 hours when school is not in session.

Rivier University Curricular Practical Training requirements:

  • Application for the appropriate program must be completed and approved by the department chairperson.
  • Department advisor’s recommendation form must be completed and approved by the department chairperson.
  • Copy of registration form or add/drop form completed by the department
  • Sponsoring employer’s offer letter of employment showing the title of the internship position, number of hours offered, the beginning and end date of the training.
  • Completed Form I-538, Section A to be completed by student. This form is available in the ISA office.
  • Note: F-1 students who wish to apply for CPT must check with the International Student Advisor to determine eligibility before completing the above requirements. He/she must have been lawfully registered full time and have maintained F-1 status for at least one full academic year.

Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) refers to practical training, which may take place during or upon completion of the course of studies. Such temporary employment maybe authorized in the following situations:

  • When school is not in session and the student is currently enrolled and intends to register for the next semester.
  • While school is in session, provided that the practical training does not exceed 20 hours a week.
  • After completion of all course requirements for the degree (excluding thesis, if applicable)
  • OPT is available for a total of 12 months of full-time employment. Employment under OPT must be directly related to a student’s field of study. Any period or increment of OPT will count toward the total 12 months. For example: part-time OPT for 20 hours per week for a period of 6 months will be counted toward the 12 months allowed at a rate of half the time. This means 3 months will have been used up of the total 12 months allowed. (6 months of employment x half time ½ = 3 months of full time employment)

OPT NEW RULES (April 8, 2008)

Changes on OPT application procedures and duration:

  1.  Under the new rule effective, April 8, 2008, a student will be able to file his or her I-765 for post completion OPT up to 90 days prior to his or her program end date and up to 60 days after his or her program end date.
  2. Employment authorization will begin on the date requested or date of the employment authorization is adjudicated, whichever is later. Exception: The employment authorization period for the 17th month OPT extension begins on the day after the expiration of the initial post-completion OPT employment authorization, and ends 17 months later, regardless of the date of the actual extension is approved.(This pertains to STEM qualified OPT applicants only)

 Eligibility for 17 month STEM OPT Extension

 OPT extension is possible for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) students employed by certain employers. The 12 month limit on F-1 Optional Practical Training (OPT) will be extended by 17 months, for a total of 29 months, for certain STEM degree holders, in the following fields. For complete list of STEM Majors, please visit, http://www.ice.gov/sevis/stemlist.htm

  1. Other requirements for 17-month extension:
    • A student must be currently participating in a 12-month period of OPT, working for a U.S. employer in a job directly related to the student’s major area of study.
    • Student must have successfully completed a bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral degree in a field on the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List, from a SEVIS-certified college or university.
    • Provide the required proof of degree. The new I-765 instructions state that a “copy of the degree” must be submitted for applications filed under (c) (3) (c). USCIS clarified that this could include:
      1. Official transcripts
      2. Unofficial transcripts
      3. Copy of the diploma as long as it states the program of study
    • The student has not previously received a 17-month OPT extension after earning a STEM degree.
    • Student will have to apply for the 17 month- extension on Form I-765 with fee.
    • Students who file an application for 17–month OPT extension will be able to continue employment while the extension application is pending, until a final decision on the I-765 or for 180 days, whichever comes first.
    •  The student does not need to provide any documentation that an employer is an E-Verify employer; the only thing required for the I-765 is the employer’s E-Verify number and the name as listed in E-Verify. See also: http://www.uscis.gov/files/nativedocuments/E-Verify_Manual.pdf

OPT extension reminders:

  • The 17 month extension is only possible one time per lifetime; a student is NOT eligible to receive an extension more than once, regardless of degree level. The extension can only be granted in one 17 month period; the period cannot be “split” into 2 periods.
  • Student’s on “pre-completion” OPT will NOT be eligible for the extension.
  • The student should file the I-765 with the USCIS Service Center with jurisdiction over the address where he/she currently resides, *not* where the first I-765 for regular OPT was filed. Ask for your International Student Advisor for the correct Service Center and address.
  • A student may apply for the 17-month STEM OPT extension anytime during the regular period of post-completion OPT up to the expiration date of the student’s current OPT employment authorization. Students are encouraged to file early so that they receive the new EAD before the end of the regular period of post-completion OPT.
  • A student who timely file for the 17 month extension will be able to continue employment while the extension application is pending, until a final decision on the I-765 or for 180 days, whichever comes first. (Note: The employment must conform to STEM conditions during this interim extension period, including the requirement that the student work only for an E-Verify employer.)
  • A student may change employers during the 17 month extension. However, USCIS and SEVP advise against changing employers while the I-765 is pending, since the I-765 names a specific employer. Note: Students should consult with an attorney regarding the effect of changing to an employer that is not the employer named on the I-765.
  • The student must report the change in employer to the DSO, and the DSO must update SEVIS accordingly.
  • Students may NOT be concurrently employed at a non-E-verify employer. While on a 17-month extension, the student is only allowed to be employed by employers who are registered with E-verify.

 Reporting Requirements while on OPT:

  1. All students on OPT are required to report to the Designated School Official (DSO)
    • Any change of name or address, or
    • Any interruption of such employment
      1. Legal name
      2.  
  2. In addition, students who are pursuing STEM extension OPT must report to their DSO the loss of employment or change  to any of the following within 10 days:
    • Change of legal name
    • Residential or mailing address
    • Employer name
    • Employer address
  3. Must make a validation report to the DSO every six months starting from the date the extension begins and ending when the student’s F-1  status ends, the student changes educational levels at the same school, the student transfers to another school, or the 17 –month OPT extension ends, whichever is first. The validation is a confirmation that the student’s name and address, employer name and address, and/or loss of employment are current and accurate. The report is due to the DSO within 10 business days of each reporting date.

Limited Periods of Unemployment to Maintain Status

During post completion OPT, F-1 status is dependent upon employment.
Students may not accrue an aggregate of more than 90 days of unemployment during any post-completion OPT carried out under the initial post-completion OPT authorization.Students granted a 17-month OPT extension may not accrue an aggregate of more than 120 days of unemployment during the total 29-month OPT period.

 SOURCE: NAFSA

 Optional Practical Training Application Requirements:

All applicants must bring all OPT application requirements to the International Student Advising Office for review. An appointment with the International Student Advisor is advisable. Please complete immigration forms and copy of all documents requested before your appointment. ISAO offers to mail the complete application to  U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS):

  1.  $380.00* check or money order payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  2.  Documentation from academic adviser/Registrar’s office indicating the current academic status and confirming program completion. (Application for Graduation and letter or email  from adviser)
  3.  Complete an immigration form I-765. We encourage you to fill out the I-765 form online and print it. The URL link is http://www.uscis.gov    and  click on “Immigration    Forms”.  NOTE: Student’s signature on the I-765 form is scanned directly for the EAD; make sure that there is no part of the signature that crosses the line.
  4.  Complete form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, marked with the proper code at item 16: as (c )(3 ) (B) for post completion OPT
  5.  Photocopies of old EAD, if any.
  6.  Front and back copies of all previously issued I-20’s from different college/university, and original Rivier University issued I-20s.
  7.  Two (2) immigration style photos (check with the advisor for specific instruction); 2 x 2 photo size are required for this application.
  8.  Photocopy of picture page of passport
  9.  Front and back copy of your I-94 card.

 Optional Practical Training 17 month Extension Application Requirements:

All applicants must bring all OPT application requirements to the International Student Advising Office for review. An appointment with the International Student Advisor is advisable.

*NOTE: You need to make sure you know your employer's E-Verify company identification number when completing I-765 form. All fees are subject to change without notice. Always confirm the required fee with the International Student Advisor. 

  1.  380.00* check or money order payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  2.  Complete a NEW immigration form I-765. We encourage you to fill out the I-765 form online and print it. The URL link is http://www.uscis.gov  and click on “Immigration  Forms”.  NOTE: Student’s signature on the I-765 form is scanned directly for the EAD; make sure that there is no part of the signature that crosses the line.
  3. Complete form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, marked with the proper code at item 16: as (c )(3 ) ( C) for STEM OPT
  4. Proof of degree (copy of transcript  or diploma)
  5. Copy of EAD from the initial OPT
  6. Copy of your employment offer letter for the duration of extension; provide a copy of the offer letter for your initial OPT.
  7. Provide the E-Verify number of the company and write accurate name of employer as it appears on the E-Verify system. (Spelling is very important)

Frequently Asked Questions while on Optional Practical Training (OPT)

Do I need to find a job offer before I apply for OPT?

No, a job offer is not needed prior to applying for OPT. Your OPT job may be anywhere in the United States.

How soon do I apply for OPT?

The earliest you could file your Post Completion OPT is up to 90 days prior to your program end date.

Can OPT be extended beyond 12 months?

No, OPT cannot be extended for more than 12 months.

NOTE:  For STEM qualified F-1 students only, the OPT can be extended for up to 17 months if requirements are met. (See information on OPT Extension)

What happens if I didn’t use the applied OPT? Can I carry it over for the next time?

No, once USCIS processes the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) that's it.

If I decide to cancel my OPT before receiving my EAD, what should I do?

Schedule an appointment with your International Student Advisor for options, immediately for proper guidance.

What kind  of documents will USCIS issue to me when my OPT application is approved?

The USCIS Service Center will issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). This card shows your name and the dates that employment is scheduled to commence and end.

I plan to relocate while waiting for my EAD card. Can I use a P.O. Box to forward my EAD card?

No. By law, Federal mail may not be forwarded to a Post Office Box address or another address. It is very important to write a secure and correct mailing address on your OPT application. Inquire with ISAO about another address option.

Is traveling outside the United States advisable before I receive my post-completion OPT EAD card?

Traveling outside the U.S. is not advisable until you receive the EAD card, and have at least one job offer for employment in the field of study. Also to be eligible for re-entry to the U.S. you must have the EAD card, valid F-1 visa, valid passport, valid SEVIS Form I-20 with recent ISAO signature and OPT endorsement on page 3. See your International Student Advisor for additional advice.

I received my EAD card for post-completion OPT, is it safe to travel outside the United States without employment?

You can travel outside the U.S. after you’ve received your EAD card but there is a risk that you may be denied re-entry to the U.S. You must be able to convince the consular officer that you have a job waiting for you. You have to convince him/her too that you will leave the U.S. at the end of your OPT date. To be eligible for re-entry to the U.S. you must have an EAD card, valid F-1 visa, valid passport, job offer, valid SEVIS Form I-20 with recent ISAO signature and OPT endorsement on page 3. See your International Student Advisor for additional advice.

Can I start working while waiting for my EAD card?

No. You can start working only when you receive your EAD card and that the employment start date on your EAD card is current. The beginning and end dates of OPT will be listed on the EAD card. 

Do I have to depart the U.S. after the end date of my OPT/EAD card?

Yes and no. You have exactly 60 days to depart the country.  During the 60 days grace period, you also have a choice of staying in the country by seeking another degree program or seek opportunity to another non-immigrant status. If you intend to continue academic studies, you should obtain a new SEVIS I-20 prior to the OPT end date.  See your International Student Advisor for more advice.

Off-Campus Employment because of severe economic hardship

F-1 students may apply for off campus employment due to economic hardship. S/he needs to demonstrate the severity of the financial need. Documentation from the student that unforeseen circumstances have caused the urgent financial need, i.e., currency devaluation, loss of scholarship or sponsorship, and natural disaster in home country. A budget detailing expenses versus available resources is highly recommended.  You have to provide compeling evidence on why you are suffering financial difficulty despite the fact that you showed more than enough financial resources when your application for admissions was granted. Detailed explanation is needed for this application.

For F-1 status and immigration related issues, please contact:

Dey Barriga
International Student Advisor
603-897-8781
dbarriga@rivier.edu