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Eligible Employment & Reporting While on OPT

Eligible Employment While on OPT

All employment pursued with any type of OPT Authorization must be directly related to your major field of study and commensurate with your degree level. The following types of paid and unpaid experiences are considered valid OPT activities according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security:
 
  Standard 12-Month OPT 24-Month STEM OPT
General Considerations
  • All employment must directly relate to your major field of study.
  •  All work performed must be commensurate with your degree level.
  • For students with Post-Completion OPT authorization, you must work for 20 hours per week or more in order for the employment to be considered “reportable.”
  • All employers must be registered in the DHS E-Verify employment verification system.
  • All employment must be paid.
  • All employment must be documented on a Form I-983 Training Plan for STEM OPT Students. Per regulation, Immigration Services cannot recommend STEM OPT for you until you provide this completed document.
Paid Employment You may accept paid positions. You must accept paid positions.
Multiple Employers You may work for more than one employer, but every position you accept must be directly related to your major field of study and, if you are only authorized for Part-Time OPT, you cannot work any more than 20 hours cumulative between all positions. You may work for more than one employer, but each employer must be registered in the DHS E-Verify employment verification system. Additionally, every position you accept must be paid and documented on its own Form I-983 Training Plan for STEM OPT Students. Your I-20 must be updated to reflect both employers.
Contract Employment (1099 Employment) You may work as an independent contractor performing a service based on a contractual relationship rather than an employment relationship. If requested by DHS, you must be prepared to provide evidence that reflects the duration of the contract periods and the names and addresses of any and all contracting companies with whom you work. By regulation, this type of work is not allowed.
Self-Employed Business Owner You may start a business and be your own employer. In this situation, you must work more than 20 hours per week. You must also be able to prove that you possess the proper business licenses and are actively engaged in business directly related to your program of study. By regulation, this type of work is not allowed.
Employment through an Agency You can establish a relationship with an agency that can place you at different sites. You must be able to provide evidence showing that all work you perform at your placement sites is related to your field of study and that you worked an average of at least 20 hours per week while employed by the agency. You can use an Employment Agency to find employment; however, by regulation, working through an Employment Agency does not qualify as employment for immigration purposes. You must be formally hired by the company or organization at which you are placed and that company or organization is responsible for assisting you in filling out the Form I-983 Training Plan for STEM OPT Students.
Unpaid employment You may serve as volunteer, unpaid intern, researcher, community service worker, etc., so long as the activity does not violate any U.S. Labor Laws. If you have been authorized for Standard Post-Completion OPT, you must be able to provide evidence from the organization that you performed services for at least 20 hours per week. You may serve as volunteer, unpaid intern, researcher, community service worker, etc., so long as the activity does not violate any U.S. Labor Laws and is completed incidental to your current F-1 Status. That means, unpaid employment does not count as employment for immigration purposes and you must have a paid job that satisfies the above requirements in order to maintain F-1 Status.

Reporting Employment Information While on OPT

DHS requires all students in F-1 Status who have been granted Post-Completion Optional Practical Training employment authorization to report updated OPT Employer information to DHS. How this information reaches your SEVIS Record depends on whether you have been approved for Pre-Completion or Post-Completion OPT.
 
Reporting Employment on Pre-Completion OPT

Students can report/update their OPT Employment Information by filling out our Reporting Form for Standard 12-Month OPT. Immigration Services staff will cut and paste your responses into SEVIS.

Reporting Employment on Post-Completion OPT

Once your Post-Completion OPT is approved by USCIS, your SEVIS Record will be updated to reflect the approval. SEVP will then send an email directly to you prompting you to create a SEVP Student Portal account. You will use this portal to update your personal and employment information for the duration of your Post-Completion OPT.

It is your obligation to report all of your personal and employment information through the SEVP Student Portal. Failure to report OPTemployment information to the Immigration Services Office while in OPT is considered a violation of your F-1 Status.

Additionally, failure to report OPT employment information within 90 days of the start date listed on your EAD may result in the “auto-termination” of your SEVIS Record. You will no longer have status and will be required to depart the U.S. as soon as reasonably possible.

Please note that Immigration Services will still have access to your SEVIS Record during your period of Post-Completion OPT.
For each and every job you secure while on OPT, you must report:

- Employer Name. You must report your employer’s legal name. If you are unsure as to the legal name, contact your HR Department. If you are self-employed, name yourself as the employer (note: in this case, it is your responsibility to maintain your work records to reflect your compliance with immigration regulations).
- Employer Address. The address you provide should be where you are physically working. If you are working remotely, then provide both the address where your direct supervisor physically works and the address at which you primarily perform you job duties.
- Job Eligibility. Describe how your job directly relates to your major field of study.
- Hours per Week. Indicate whether your employment with each employer is considered Part-Time (20 hours per week or less) or Full-Time (more than 20 hours per week).
- Employment Dates. You will need to provide your employment start date and end date, if known. If you have previously reported your employment without a start date, then you will need to submit another report with the updated end date information.

You can refer to the information above to review acceptable employment types.
You should provide a copy of your EAD once you receive it from USCIS so that the Immigration Services Office can issue an updated I-20 if necessary.

You should report your OPT Employment Information as soon as you are offered employment or as soon as possible after your employer information changes (e.g. stop working for one employer, change positions at an employer, start working at a new employer, etc.).

Failure to OPT Employment Information within 90 days of the start date listed on your EAD may result in the “auto-termination” of your SEVIS Record. You will no longer have status and will be required to depart the U.S. as soon as reasonably possible.
If you have been approved for Standard 12-Month Post-Completion OPT, you may only accrue 90 days of unemployment. If you have been approved for a 24-Month STEM Extension of OPT, then you may accrue an additional 60 days of unemployment, totaling 150 days.

You must engage in at least 20 hours per week with an employer for it to count as reportable employment for immigration purposes. If you engage in fewer than 20 hours per week at an employer, then it is not considered reportable and counts towards your unemployment accrual.

We strongly recommend that you keep thorough and accurate records of your OPT experience/employment in case you are ever required to show proof of your OPT activities.

If you will exceed your allowable period of unemployment, you must take one of the following actions before the 90th/150th day of unemployment or else you will violate your F-1 Status:

- Transfer your SEVIS Record to another school here in the U.S. You can only do so if you have been accepted to another full-time program of study at a different school.
- Apply for a new “lnitial Attendance I-20” from MCPHS. This is only an option if you have been accepted to another full-time program of study at MCPHS University.
- Apply for a Change of Status, if eligible. You should work with an immigration attorney to determine for which Immigration Status you are eligible to apply. Because we are not attorneys, the Immigration Services cannot assist students in this regard. General information about Immigration Status can be found on the USCIS website.
- Depart the U.S. If you remain in the U.S. after your allowable period of unemployment expires, you will no longer have a valid Immigration Status.

In order to avoid violating your F-1 Status, we advise that you contact our office once you have accrued 75 days of unemployment so that we can assist you with strategy moving forward.