Alert: F-1 Students

October 2, 2014: OPT Alert for F-1 Students: If you are an international student who is applying for Optional Practical Training (OPT) this information could be very important to you. USCIS recently provided the following information concerning the timing of your OPT application.

Students who cannot submit their C3B Optional Practical Training (OPT) designation on the Form I-765 within 30 days of the OPT recommendation date in SEVIS should contact their DSOs to cancel the OPT request in SEVIS and input a new one.

Although F-1 students may apply for post-completion OPT up to 90 days before the end-date for their program and up to 60 days after the end-date for their program, there is another critical date to keep in mind. Within the above time periods, the student must submit the OPT application within 30 days of the date that the Designated School Official (DSO) recommends OPT.  If the student is not able to meet this 30-day deadline, the student should follow the advice provided by USCIS above to request the DSO cancel the OPT request and submit a new one.  All of this however must occur before the end of the 60-day period following the end-date for the student’s program.

USCIS is very strict in enforcing these deadlines and will deny OPT applications that are not submitted on time.  It is very important for students to make sure that they understand the timing issues and consult with their DSO to make sure they understand the requirements for filing an OPT application.  A denial of OPT could result in the student becoming out of status in the US.  Being out of status limits future options such as remaining in the US to apply for a change of non-immigrant (temporary) status. If the student remains in the US without immigration status for 6 months or more, there are unlawful presence bars to re-entering  the US.  The best practice for students is to make sure to understand the requirements for OPT.  If a student misses a required deadline, it is important to consult an immigration lawyer as soon as possible to see what options may be available.