On-campus employment is limited to 20 hours per week (including assistantships) during the school year and limited to full-time during summer and vacation periods. You must obtain a social security number prior to completing human resources paperwork at Georgia State.
Students who receive an I-20 from Georgia State and are maintaining F-1 status at our school are eligible to work on-campus without any previous authorizations from ISSS.
In general, there are two kinds of on-campus jobs:
- Georgia State (graduate assistantships, student assistantships, school library, etc.)
- Private Vendors / Companies who provide on-campus services to students, such as the bookstore and the cafeteria.
If you have questions about any type of employment on campus or if you are changing status to F1 or if you have lost your F1 status, ask ISSS first before accepting employment.
Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.)
When can I start on-campus employment?
If you have completed your SEVIS transfer to Georgia State from another school, but did not complete one semester at that school, then you can start employment no more than 30 days prior to the beginning of your first semester.
If you are a transfer student who has already completed one semester at your previous school, you can start employment after your SEVIS record has been transferred to Georgia State.
Please note that these rules apply to transfer students whose SEVIS records have already been transferred to Georgia State. If you have not requested your record to be transferred to Georgia State, you cannot start employment even during the 30-day period before the start of classes.
When should I stop employment at Georgia State?
- You have completed your program of study or
- You have transferred to another school or
- You have failed to maintain your legal F-1 status or
- You have let your I-20 expire or you have changed your immigration status to a status that does not allow this type of employment.
Can I work full time?
I was offered a job that I think is considered on-campus, but my employer will not be Georgia State or a commercial firm servicing students on campus. What should I do?
F-1 Employment and Cap-Gap
F-1 students are eligible for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and Optional Practical Training (OPT)
- Employment authorization and ISSS processing required
- Social Security Number required if work is paid (see below)
- Employment workshop offered by ISSS is required within 1 year of application (see schedule below)
- Three types of employment known as “Practical Training” must be related to your degree and are designed to extend classroom education.
- CPT – Curricular Practical Training
- OPT – Optional Practical Training
- OPT – STEM Extension & Cap-Gap
The fourth type of off-campus employment authorization may be available for those experiencing a major, unforeseen and prolonged situation.
4. Severe Economic Hardship
Virtual Employment Workshop Schedules & Registration
- Live, virtual workshops are presented monthly by an international student advisor.
- Seasonal H1-B & Green Card workshops are offered. Workshops dates will be announced in the ISSS Newsletter, Facebook and Instagram.
|Thursday, January 27||2 p.m.||3 p.m.||
Offered each Fall and Spring in collaboration with University Career Services:
1. International Education Week
2. International Spring Festival
*Check the monthly newsletter and social media accounts for exact dates when available.
|Tuesday, February 8||2 p.m.||3 p.m.|
|Thursday, February 24||2 p.m.||3 p.m.|
|Tuesday, March 8||2 p.m.||3 p.m.|
|Thursday, March 24||2 p.m.||3 p.m.|
|Tuesday, April 5||2 p.m.||3 p.m.|
|Thursday, April 21||2 p.m.||3 p.m.|
|Tuesday, May 3||2 p.m.||3 p.m.|
Register for Live Workshops
- Live, virtual workshops are free, but registration is required. Attendance is taken.
- Log in to iStart and click "Session Sign-ups" to register for the in-person workshop of your choice.
- A link to the live, virtual workshop will be sent to registered students' Georgia State email account 24 hours prior to the event.
- You must register by 4 p.m. the day before the workshop. If you cannot register by 4 p.m. the day prior, you should register for the next available session.
Recruiters and International Recruits
Prospective International students may contact ISSS to confirm if a recruiter has a contract with Georgia State. Any complaints or concerns regarding a recruiting company may be directed to ISSS.
Resources To Educate Employers & Support for Re-entry During OPT
Social Security Number (SSN)
- Never accept or work off-campus employment without authorization through ISSS in advance.
- All CPT authorizations end on the last day of finals. An internship offer that extends beyond this date requires an additional CPT authorization and a corresponding internship course for the next semester.
- TPS (Temporary Protected Status) work authorization could be a violation of nonimmigrant status. Work with an experienced immigration attorney to find out more.
- International students should not plan to meet educational or personal living expenses through employment in the U.S. As an F-1 or J-1 student, you were required to demonstrate sufficient financial resources to cover your expenses at the time you began the Visa process.
What is CPT?
Regulatory Reference: 8 CRF 214.2 (f)(10)
Curricular Practical Training ("CPT") is temporary, off-campus employment authorization for F1 visa students. Curricular means the work must be required or related to a course in the student's major program of study and the student must receive academic credits for the work.
- Full-time enrollment for at least one academic year (Fall + Spring) prior to authorization at Georgia State or at another SEVIS approved institution unless your internship experience is required (and clearly stated in the Academic Catalog) to complete your program.
- Active F-1 status
- Good academic standing with the school
- Completion of a CPT workshop in ISSS no later than the 1st week of the current semester
- Availability of an existing course in the student's major or program of study to support CPT authorization by the student's academic department or supervising faculty member.
- IEP students are not eligible
Important: Updated 04/29/2020
- Start Date: CPT authorizations may only begin after the last day of finals in the prior semester.
- End Date: All CPT authorizations end prior to the start of classes in the next semester. An internship offer beyond that date requires additional CPT authorization and CPT course enrollment for the next semester. Unless your authorization takes place during your final semester. If your authorization will take place in your final semester - your CPT authorization end date cannot extend past the last day of finals in that semester.
- CPT employers cannot be changed after the approval of the authorization.
- CPT work cannot begin without SEVIS notation for CPT on your I-20.
- CPT is employer-specific, which means an offer of employment is required to apply.
- CPT is not available after completion of your program of study (graduation).
- New CPT applications must be complete and approved by the secondary approver, only pending ISSS review by the deadline each term to be processed.
|Upcoming Application Windows:|
|Spring 2022 Application Opens:||Monday, October 25, 2021|
|Spring 2022 Application Closes:||Friday, January 14, 2022 by 5 p.m.*|
|Summer 2022 Application Opens:||Monday, February 28, 2022|
|Summer 2022 Application Closes:||Friday, June 10, 2022 by 5 p.m.*|
|Fall 2022 Application Opens:||Monday, March 28, 2022|
|Fall 2022 Application Closes:||Friday, August 26, 2022 by 5 p.m.*|
|Spring 2023 Application Opens:||Monday, October 24, 2022|
|Spring 2023 Application Closes:||Friday, January 13, 2023 by 5 p.m.*|
* New CPT applications must be complete and approved by the secondary approver, only pending ISSS review by the deadline each term to be processed. Regardless, applications submitted at the last minute are still subject to the normal 3-5 day processing time. You may not be able to begin work on Monday even if you submit a completed CPT application by the Friday deadline.
- Plan well ahead to ensure that all parts of your CPT application are completed, processed and approved well before the semester begins.
- Applications that are incomplete by the deadlines above will be denied.
- No new applications will be accepted after the deadline.
How to Apply
- Complete the in-person or online CPT Workshop (see below)
- Obtain written job offer letter from employer*
- Register for CPT course
- Submit the CPT request e-form in iStart
Job Offer Letter Specifics
* The job offer letter must contain the following or your CPT application will be delayed or denied.
- Student's Full Name
- Job Title
- Company Name
- Address where the work will take place
- Start & end dates of employment within the CPT approved dates
- Hours per week (must indicate 20 or less for part-time or 21 or more for full-time)
- Brief description of the work to be performed
- For an example letter, see slide #14 of the online CPT workshop below.
When to Apply
You can apply as soon as:
- You have attended an employment workshop.
- You have obtained a supporting offer of employment/internship letter.
- You have registered for a CPT eligible course at Georgia State.
- You have completed the CPT application in iStart.
- The application window above is open. Incomplete applications will be rejected after the deadline.
Duration of CPT
CPT may be authorized following the last day of finals in the prior semester (unless you are in your final semester), but all CPT authorizations end prior to the start of classes in the next semester. An internship offer that extends beyond this date requires an additional CPT authorization and a corresponding internship course for the next semester.
- Example: For a Fall CPT authorization you can be authorized to begin work the day following the last day of Summer finals. The authorization must end prior to the first day of classes in Spring.
If you work during authorized break periods, your employment letter must specify how many hours you work during the break period, not to exceed 40 hours per week. You may only work up to 20 hours per week while classes are in session.
More information on CPT
Courses Used for CPT Approval:
- Generally, Doctoral dissertation and thesis research hours cannot be used to satisfy the credit-bearing course requirement for CPT. Such courses only fulfill the CPT credit requirement if a student’s dissertation or thesis requires gathering data at a particular corporation’s research and development facilities which requires employment or permission for access.
- The student must register for a course that carries academic credit, is listed in the regular bulletin of course offerings, and has a faculty member assigned to teach the course.
- The course cannot be a class designated outside the scope and purpose of CPT.
Example: student signs up for ACCT 21010 (Principles of Accounting 1) and seeks to utilize this class for both CPT and normal course credit.
Examples of appropriate CPT courses:
- CSC 8940-Computer Science Internship: The course will require to document and present the project the student worked on during the internship (1-9 credit hours)
- BIOL 4916-Internships in Biology: Students receive hands-on experience in activities that require knowledge and skills related to the field of biology. Specific topics available each semester will vary. May be taken for credit a maximum of two times (2 credit hours)
- ACCT 8391-Field Study Accounting: Prerequisite-MPA or MBA student with a 2.7 or higher GPA, accounting internship, consent of instructor. CSP: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. The purpose of this class is to provide course credit for students enrolled in the MPA or MBA program who have an accounting internship. Students are required to submit weekly journals describing their internship experience and a paper at the end of the semester. The topic for the paper has to be approved by the instructor. Students can register for this class only with the consent of the instructor.
Hours Per Week:
During the fall and spring semesters, CPT is typically approved for part-time employment (20 hours a week or less) while classes are in session. Full time (more than 20 hours a week) will only be approved in limited circumstances such as:
- During vacation periods when school is not in session such as summer, winter and spring breaks*
- Students in programs that require full-time internships (clearly stated in the Academic Catalog)
- Students in their final semester who are taking less than a full course load, which has been pre-approved by an ISSS advisor
- Graduate students who have completed all required course work and are taking less than a full course load while completing their thesis or dissertation, which has been pre-approved by an ISSS advisor
Deadline to Apply
- CPT application deadlines may be found in the above deadlines' table.
- Once approved per a specific job offer, the CPT employer cannot be changed that term.
- Plan ahead to ensure that your CPT is authorized in time.
Information Related to CPT Dates:
- CPT is tied to the academic calendar and can only be authorized in conjunction with the academic semester.
- Work may begin as early as the day following final exams of the previous semester, and it may end prior to the start date of the next semester. No exceptions can be made to allow work outside these time limits, except on a case-by-case basis in the MPH (Master of Public Health) program.
- Students may participate in CPT multiple times during their program.
- Students may not begin working without final authorization from ISSS.
- CPT authorization ends prior to the start of classes in the next semester. If the student wishes to continue working through the next semester, that student must obtain new CPT authorization (which includes registration for a class in the upcoming semester and all CPT application materials).
- Complete the Curricular Practical Training e-form through iStart.
- The e-form will require input by both the student and the supervising faculty who oversees the academic credit.
- The e-form will require an original employer letter uploaded as a PDF file on the employer's letterhead, signed, and addressing all points indicated.
- If internship/CPT is not required for your degree program, you must register in an appropriate credit-bearing course prior to applying for CPT. Refer to the information above for details on what courses are appropriate.
- Best viewed in Firefox or Chrome in full-screen
Curricular Practical Training FAQ
Does Currical Practical Training have to be related to my field of study?
How many hours of CPT can be authorized?
What is the difference between part-time and full-time CPT?
Can I start working before the application has been processed?
Can I hold a GRA and do CPT at the same time?
Is it possible to do full time CPT while school is in session?
Can I apply for jobs through Panther Temps?
Can I change jobs during the same CPT authorization period?
What about Volunteering or Unpaid Internships?
What is OPT?
- Optional Practical Training or OPT is a benefit of F1 student visa status that provides authorization for off-campus employment in a student's field of study. The initial period of OPT approval is 12 months, once per degree level.
- STEM majors (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) are eligible for an additional 24-month OPT extension, effective May 10, 2016.
Additional Information on OPT
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment authorization directly related to a student's primary program of study.
- The student must be in valid F-1 status at the time of application and must have been enrolled full-time for at least one academic year preceding the application.
- If not enrolled full-time, the student must have an under-enrollment form completed by his or her academic advisor and approved by an international student advisor in ISSS.
- The student must be in the final semester of his or her academic program (unless applying for pre-completion OPT).
- The student must have no holds on the student record and no balance owed to the university. Having a hold or balance could delay the processing of the OPT request.
- The student must have attended an employment workshop within the last year.
- The student must not have already been approved for OPT for the same education level.
- The student must apply in the time period between 90 days before and 60 days after completion of the study. (See definition of "completion of study" below.)
- Students in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields who wish to apply for the 17-month OPT extension have additional eligibility requirements. Please refer to the "17-Month STEM OPT Extension" policy for more information.
Definition of Completion of Study:
For undergraduate and graduate non-thesis students, completion of a course of study is the last day of the final exams of the semester in which they finish all degree requirements. All other graduate students can choose between three dates for completion of study:
- On the last day of finals in the semester in which the student completes all required coursework.
- On the date the student successfully defends the thesis/dissertation/project. (This date is established between the student and the academic advisor or department chair.)
- On the last day of finals in the semester in which the final degree requirement is met. This is the same for non-thesis students.
- The earliest students can apply for OPT is 90 days before completion of the study.
- Students do not have to have a job offer in order to apply for OPT, and are encouraged to apply early.
- Students may also apply within 60 days after completion of the study. However, the OPT application must be receipted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by day 60 in order to be eligible. It may take 2-3 weeks from the time the OPT is mailed for USCIS to receive and receipt it. Students who apply after completion of study should allow sufficient time for mailing and receipting at USCIS.
- Students can choose any date within 60 days after completion of the study as the start date of OPT, but they must complete OPT within 14 months after completion of study.
- Example: If your completion of study date is December 14, 2013, you have until February 14, 2014, to complete your one year of OPT.
- Applying on the last day will not extend a student's OPT. USCIS processing times may take up to 90 days. Therefore, students who apply late may lose some of their allotted 12 months of OPT.
- Example: If your completion of study date is December 17, 2013, and you apply for OPT on January 14, 2014, it is possible that your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card may not be approved and arrive until April 14, 2013 (90 days/3 months processing time.) As a result, you would have lost 3 months of your allotted 12 months of OPT.
- Students may not begin working without receiving the official EAD card in hand.
- Students applying for the STEM extension have different requirements; please refer to the "Optional Practical Training: STEM Extension" policy for more information.
- Students are not permitted to enroll in academic coursework during OPT or Academic Training except on a part-time basis in post-baccalaureate or post-graduate admission status. Such enrollment is not permitted for the purpose of enrollment in a program of study. Transient enrollment during OPT is not permitted at all since it would require full-time enrollment elsewhere, which negates eligibility for OPT. Consult an ISSS advisor for more information.
- If a student transfers to another school or begins another degree program during OPT, the OPT work authorization will automatically end, even though the EAD card still appears valid. Consult an ISSS advisor for more information.
- Students must adhere to unemployment limits (90 days for students on post-completion OPT, 120 days for students on STEM extension).
- Students on OPT must report changes in employment or address via the OPT Employment Report within 10 days of the change. Please refer to the signed copy of the “OPT Statement of Understanding” (completed with ISSS upon applying) for more information.
- Students may travel outside the United States during OPT, but may return only if they have a job. Students must have proof of employment, a valid (unexpired) F-1 visa, a valid passport and an I-20 signed for travel in order to return. Travel signature requests must be submitted to ISSS at least two weeks in advance of travel.
- Students on STEM extension have additional reporting requirements; please refer to the "Optional Practical Training: STEM Extension" policy for more information.
During the 60 days after OPT has expired, students must do one of the following:
- Depart the United States,
- Become accepted into and receive, in hand, an Initial-status I-20 form for a new degree program or educational level at Georgia State or another SEVIS-approved school in the United States,
- Transfer from Georgia State to another degree program at a SEVIS-approved school in the United States or
- Apply for a change of status from F-1 to another non-immigrant visa category.
- Be in active F-1 status at the time of application with one full academic year (Fall + Spring) completed prior to application.
- Be in the final semester of your academic program.
- Have no holds on your student account and no balance owed to Georgia State
- Completion of an ISSS employment workshop within the last year.
- No previous OPT approval for the same or higher education level.
- The STEM-OPT 24-month extension has additional requirements. Please see below.
When to apply
Applicants may request their I-20 for OPT or OPT STEM Extension via iStart up to 95 days before completion of studies. This provides you the opportunity to mail your application at the earliest time possible within the 90 day window before the completion of your program. It is very important to understand that if your application is received at USCIS more than 90 days before your completion of studies date, USCIS will deny your application. In that case, ISSS cannot assist and has no way to correct your error. Please respect the OPT application time window established by USCIS. You may also apply for an initial 12 month OPT within 60 days after the completion of your program. In all cases, allow 6-8 weeks or more for processing by USCIS. A job offer is not required to apply for OPT.
How to apply
2. If you cannot attend the virtual workshop, watch the online OPT online presentation below. If you have further questions, speak with your ISSS advisor. Note: this presentation is best viewed in Firefox or Chrome browsers and in full-screen. After viewing the slideshow, please access this webpage.
Online OPT Workshop Presentation
3. Prepare your application and visit ISSS during advising hours with the following items:
- Completed OPT e-form " Post-Completion OPT Request" in iStart. (Look under "F1 Practical Training") Upon submission, a new I-20 will be issued by ISSS. USCIS must receive this I-20 along with the rest of your OPT application within 30 days of issuance by ISSS.
- Completed USCIS Form I-765. All 7 pages must be mailed!
- Signed Form I-765. Failure by the student to sign form I-765 is the #1 reason an application is returned or rejected.
- Two (2) passport-style photos not more than 30 days old. Note: photos must meet U.S. Department of State specifications. View details
- Two (2) Payment Options
- Personal check or U.S. money order for $410 made payable to Department of Homeland Security
- By credit card. Submit completed form G-1450 (Authorization for Credit Card Transaction) with your application. View details.
- Photocopy of passport biographical information (showing passport expiration date & photo)
- Photocopy of F-1 Visa. *Note: As of Nov. 1, 2016 eyeglasses will no longer be allowed in new visa photos. However, if you have a current or expired visa in the U.S., you do not need to apply for a new visa to obtain OPT. For more information please see the US Dept. of State U.S. Visas page.
- Photocopy of Change of Status I-797 receipt if you changed status to F-1 inside the U.S. (if applicable)
- Printout your I-94 document. Scroll down to "Get Most Recent I-94."
- Photocopy of Full-Time CPT I-20s (if applicable)
- Photocopy of previous EAD cards (if applicable)
- Job offer letter (optional)
3. Your advisor will review your request issue an I-20 with the OPT recommendation. ISSS will email your OPT requested I-20 once created to your student Georgia State email account.
4. Mail all application materials with new signed I-20 with OPT recommendation to USCIS. Your I-20 for OPT must reach USCIS within 30 days of issuance by ISSS; therefore, we recommend mailing it no later than 20 days after issuance to ensure the packet has the minimum amount of time to reach USCIS for processing.
Mailing options and addresses are below.
Mailing Options & Addresses
- eShipGlobal Service:
- Go to eShipGlobal Service Website to log in or create a free account.
- Select “OPT Application” or “Send Documents to USCIS.”
- Enter mailing information and select the most current USCIS location as listed on the USCIS website. Please be sure to also refer to their Lockbox Filing Location Updates webpage for the most up-to-date information on changes in USCIS location.
- Select the carrier you wish to use, pay for shipping and print the label. Drop off your application at the nearest location for the specific carrier you selected.
- Self Service: Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization for Foreign Students can be found on the USCIS website. Please be sure to also refer to their Lockbox Filing Location Updates webpage for the most up-to-date information on changes in USCIS location.
Processing Times & Application Status
- OPT Receipt (Notice of Action): approximately 2 weeks. USCIS will mail a receipt called a "Notice of Action" once your application is received for processing.
- Application Status: 24/7. Available on the USCIS website with the SRC number indicated on the Notice of Action.
- OPT Approval: We are currently seeing processing times in excess of 100 days. ISSS has no way to expedite or control the processing times. Recently, average processing times and delivery of your EAD card to ISSS have been 12-16 weeks. Students are emailed by ISSS the same day their EAD cards are received, except during weekends and holidays.
- I-20 with OPT Approval: 3-5 days. ISSS recommends requesting an updated Form I-20 via iStart that indicates "OPT Approved" once you receive your EAD card.
- Delayed Processing: If more than 90 days have passed after the receipt date on your Notice of Action, contact your ISSS advisor. Please note that OPT applications cannot be expedited. Students may not begin working without their official EAD Card.
Report OPT Employment & Update U.S. Physical Address
- Report all employment or changes to employment within 10 days per F1 regulations by logging into iStart. Complete the Employment Reporting e-form under the "F-1 Practical Training" tab.
- Automatic Termination of Record: after 90 days of no employment reported during the approved period of OPT or OPT STEM.
Reporting Changes in U.S. Physical Address
- You are required to report changes of your U.S. physical address within 10 days of a move. If your Campus ID is active and you are able to access your PAWS account - you must update your U.S. physical address in PAWS.
- If your Campus ID is no longer active, then report all U.S. physical updates within 10 days by logging into iStart and submitting the U.S. Physical Address Update e-form under the "F-1 Practical Training" tab.
Travel and OPT
You are always free to leave the U.S.; however, ISSS strongly encourages you to not travel while your application is pending. Exiting the U.S. while your application is pending could result in USCIS denying your application. By exiting the U.S., USCIS may view your exit as an abandonment of your application. If an emergency situation occurs that may require you to leave the U.S. while the application is pending, ISSS strongly encourages you to seek advice from your international student advisor. Please be aware that your application could be denied. However, cases have occurred where the student left the country while his/her OPT was pending and their OPT was approved.
Can I travel outside of the U.S. after my EAD Card has been issued?
Yes. If you travel outside the U.S. while on OPT, you will need the following: (1) Travel signature on page 3 of I-20 (2) EAD Card (3) Original employment letter showing you have valid employment (4) Valid Passport and (5) Valid Visa. If you try to re-enter the U.S. without proof of valid employment, you may be denied entrance by Customs and Border Patrol (CPB). ISSS also recommends you travel with original copies of your academic transcripts.
Optional Practical Training FAQ
This is very common. Unfortunately, USCIS does not regularly update OPT case statuses. Once approved, typically the case status skips from “Initial Review” to either “Post Decision Activity” or “Card/Document Production.” A that point, please allow a few days for your card to arrive at the ISSS office.
Typically, it takes about 5-7 business days to arrive; however, USCIS states that you must “allow 30 days for your card to be mailed to you.” Please be patient. Typically your card will arrive shortly and ISSS will contact you immediately about its arrival.
Recently, USCIS has been experiencing difficulty with their database system and sometimes the case status does not register. Don’t worry! This does not mean USCIS has not received your application and is not processing it. If you have an I-797C Receipt Notice, this means they have officially received your application and are processing it. However, if you want to confirm, you must contact USCIS directly at 1-800-375-5283. You may also want to check back on the website periodically to see if your case status is now registering.
Yes, as long the classes are not part of a current degree program and you are not enrolled full-time.
It all depends on your situation, so please come to an Employment Workshop to learn about it.
Your OPT application cannot be expedited by either USCIS or ISSS. The Texas Service Center which processes all state of Georgia OPT applications has informed us directly they do not expedite OPT applications. If it has been more than 90 days past the receipt date on your Notice of Action Form (I-797C) and USCIS has still not adjudicated your application, you should consult an ISSS international student advisor. If you are present, you and your advisor can call USCIS together. USCIS will not speak to ISSS without your presence on the call.
If it has been more than 90 days past the Receipt date on your Notice of Action Form (I-797C) and USCIS has still not adjudicated your application, you should consult an ISSS international student advisor. Your advisor can inquire directly on your behalf to the Texas Service Center (USCIS) to request an update on your case status. Your ISSS advisor cannot inquire about the status of your case until 90 days from the receipt date notice.
No. You must wait until you have received your EAD Card and the start date on the card is valid in order to begin work.
You must wait until you have received your EAD Card and the start date on the card is valid in order to begin work. Example: Your EAD Card start date is January 1, 2012, but you receive your card on December 1. You cannot begin work until January 1, 2012, even if you have the card.
No. USCIS currently does not require fingerprint/biometric scanning.
SEVIS will automatically terminate F1 status if no employment is reported after 90 days. However, you have up to 90 days of unemployment. During the approved OPT period, each day (including weekends and holidays) that the student does not have qualifying employment counts as a day of unemployment. Thus, you need to maintain employment for at least 9 months out of the 12 total months of OPT. Students who receive a STEM extension are given an additional 30 days of unemployment for a total of 120 days over their entire post-completion OPT period. OPT authorization begins on the employment start date shown on the student’s EAD card, even if you don’t have the actual card in hand.
A student who has exceeded 90 days of unemployment while on post-completion OPT has violated his/her status. SEVIS will automatically terminated this record if no employment is reported, unless one of the following actions is taken: (1) applied to continue his/her education by a change of education level or transferring to another SEVP-certified school (2) departed the United States or (3) Taken action to otherwise maintain legal status, i.e. filed a change of status to another visa status, etc. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may deny you a future immigration benefit for exceeding the 90-day unemployment limit while remaining in the country. For example, if you apply for Permanent Residency (Green Card), USCIS may deny your request based on the fact you failed to follow visa regulations for your F-1 status. If you are getting close to exceeding the 90-day limit, you should begin to make plans to do any of the 3 options listed above
ISSS will not terminate your record, but SEVIS will. It is your responsibility to follow federal regulations regarding unemployment limits while on OPT. See question #10 about exceeding the 90-day unemployment limit. If no employment is reported in 90 days, SEVIS will automatically terminated the record. DHS maintains responsibility for determining whether a student has violated his or her status or exceeded the permissible limit on authorized unemployment. Additionally, Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) or the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) may randomly examine SEVIS data for an individual, a selected group or all students on post-completion OPT. They can terminate a student’s record if it fails to show that the student maintained the proper period of employment. In such cases, the student will be given an opportunity to show that he or she complied with all OPT requirements, including maintaining employment.
Yes. As long as the employment is over 20 hours a week, it is valid employment. You can also have a combination of jobs that total 20 hours or more in order to comply with OPT employment regulations. Example: You can have a paid internship for 10 hours a week and an unpaid internship for 15 hours a week (total 25 hours) and these count as valid employment. Of course, you need to report your OPT employment to ISSS via the OPT employment report
From the end date of your EAD Card, you have a 60-day grace period in which you must (a) file for a change of visa status (b) transfer to another school or get admitted into and receive a new I-20 for a new program at Georgia State or other SEVIS-approved school in the U.S. (c) or leave the U.S. If you wish to pursue another degree (Option B), you must be issued a new I-20 at a SEVIS approved school for a degree seeking program within the 60-day Grace Period and begin study within 5 months of ending OPT. Example: Your OPT ends 9/2/2017 and you want to begin graduate school in the Spring 2018. If you are accepted during your grace period (9/3/2017 to 11/3/2017) and issued an I-20, you may remain in the U.S. to begin your new degree in the Spring because it’s less than 5 months. If it’s more than 5 months from the end of your OPT until the program begins, you will have to leave and re-enter the country with a new I-20 (at the earliest 30 days prior to the beginning of your new I-20 start date).
You are always free to leave the U.S.; however, ISSS strongly encourages you to not travel while your application is pending. Exiting the U.S. while your application is pending could result in USCIS denying your application. By exiting the U.S., USCIS may view your exit as an abandonment of your application. If an emergency situation occurs that may require you leaving the U.S. while the application is pending, ISSS strongly encourages you to seek advice from your international student advisor. Please be aware that your application could be denied. However, cases have occurred where the student left the country while his/her OPT was pending and their OPT was approved.
Yes. If you travel outside the U.S. while on OPT, you will need the following: (1) Travel signature on page 3 of I-20 (2) EAD Card (3) Original employment letter showing you have valid employment (4) Valid Passport and (5) Valid Visa. If you try to re-enter the U.S. without proof of valid employment, you may be denied entrance by Customs and Border Patrol (CPB). ISSS also recommends you travel with original copies of your academic transcripts. View more details regarding travel.
Your visa status (F-1) does not change while on OPT. You are still considered in F-1 status while on OPT and must abide by all F-1 regulations
No. If the position you are "volunteering" for will be the same position for which you will be paid for once your employment authorization begins (when you have the EAD card with a valid start date), then ISSS does not recommend you work in an unpaid capacity. Your employer may be violating U.S. federal labor laws by permitting you to work in an unpaid capacity in a position which is normally compensated for similar workers.
No. Current U.S. healthcare law does not require non-resident aliens to maintain health insurance. However, you are strongly advised to do so. You can continue your coverage with Georgia State University's provider, United Health Care, by paying the individual rate prior to the expiration of your student coverage. Many OPT students choose insurance through their employer. If your OPT does not include traditional employer-provided benefits, you may want to seek out other options. For more information, please visit the Student Health Insurance page.
State and federal taxes will be deducted from your paycheck. Feel free to attend one of our Tax Workshops to learn how to file your State taxes. In addition, for your convenience, CINTAX (Georgia State’s tax software), will still be available to you, so you can file your federal taxes. Please keep in mind that you must file your federal taxes before you attend a state tax workshop.
Unfortunately, you will have to wait until you receive your EAD card before you can renew your license. Once you have your new EAD card, your renewal dates will be based on your EAD card, typically 1 year
Yes, this is called the “Cap-Gap Extension.” Example: Jose’s OPT (EAD) end date is June 30, 2017. Jose’s Cap-Subject company files a timely H-1B application for him on April 1, 2017 that is then receipted by USCIS prior to June 30. USCIS will then automatically extend his F-1 employment until October 1 via the “Cap-Gap Extension.” As a result, he can stay and work until the H-1B becomes effective on October 1st. If his H-1B is not approved by October 1, Jose will have to stop work on October 1.
If you travel while the application is pending and try to re-enter with an I-797C receipt, USCIS may deny you entry into the United States and require you to return home immediately. Please see FAQ question #14 for more details about traveling while an application is pending.
STEM Extension-Eligible Majors
Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM)
Optional Practical Training (OPT) that is associated with an approved STEM field of study can be extended an additional 24 months (effective May 10, 2016).
General Eligibility Requirements
Associates Degree level: STEM is not available at the Associates's level, regardless of the degree program.
- Be in a current period of approved post-completion OPT (1st 12-month approval).
- Have current or offer of employment from an E-Verify participating employer.
- Be in a STEM-approved major with a corresponding CIP code at Georgia State as seen on page 1 of your I-20. Look for the 6-digit numerical code directly to the right of your major on your I-20.
- Under certain circumstances, an F-1 student may use a prior STEM degree to meet eligibility requirements. The applicant must have received their most recent qualifying STEM degree within 10 years of applying for the STEM OPT extension, and it must appear on DHS's STEM Designated Degree Program List at the time the student submits their application for the STEM OPT extension, rather than at the time that the student received the degree.
- Note: A STEM extension is based on the student's major, not degree concentration.)
STEM Eligible Majors & CIP Codes
How to Apply
Application Procedure & Mailing Address
- Request OPT STEM I-20s from ISSS
Under "F-1 Practical Training," complete the "Optional Practical Training (OPT)" e-form. Applicant must submit a completed Form I-983 to ISSS. Form I-983 must be completed by the student and his/her employer. For more information on how to complete this form, please review the instructions on the DHS OPT STEM Hub. (Please note: You are not required to submit this document to USCIS. However, ISSS must receive the completed Form I-983 in order to complete the processing of your Form I-20, which is necessary for your application to USCIS). Your ISSS Advisor will review your forms I-983 and prepare your new Form I-20 reflecting your STEM request (indicated on page 2). Always be sure to review your Form I-20 for accuracy before mailing it to USCIS.
- Compile Documents for OPT STEM Application
Your OPT STEM application must include the following documents:
- Two (2) Payment Options
- Personal check or U.S. money order in the amount of current I-765 filing fee made payable to Department of Homeland Security. The current I-765 filing fee can be found at https://www.uscis.gov/i-765
- By credit card. Submit completed form G-1450 (Authorization for Credit Card Transaction)with your application. View more details.
- Two (2) passport-style photos with I-94# lightly penciled on the back of photos. View the DHS website for specific details. Photos need to be within the last 30 days.
- Completed Form I-765 (signed in black ink). Make sure to include the proper STEM Code (c) (3) (C) in #27 of I-765 and to include the name of your degree in #28.a, employer's name as listed in E-Verify, as well as your employer's E-Verify number. (Failure to include a valid company E-Verify number will result in delay or denial of application).
- Original, signed copy of I-20 (print, sign, and date your I-20 on page 1 with blue ink).
- Copy of passport biographical page.
- Copy of Visa Stamp or Change of Status Approval Notice if you changed status in the U.S.
- Copy of I-94 card.
- Copy of EAD Card.
- Georgia State transcript, showing conferral of degree in one of the STEM categories listed above.
- Copy of diploma conferring degree in one of the STEM categories listed above.
- Job offer letter (optional)
- Mail Application to USCIS
***Important: USCIS must receive the STEM application within 60 days of the date on which the I-20 was signed by your International Student Advisor. Failure to submit within this time frame could result in the denial of your application.***
- eShipGlobal Service:
- Go to the eShipGlobal Service Website to log in or create a free account.
- Select “OPT Application” or “Send Documents to USCIS.”
- Enter mailing information and select the USCIS location in Lewisville, TX.
- Select the carrier you wish to use, pay for shipping and print the label. Drop off your application at the nearest location for the specific carrier you selected.
- Self Service: Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization for Foreign Students can be found on the USCIS website.
- Limited Access to University Mail Service: ISSS cannot access campus mail services on Federal Holidays or University Closings. If you expect delivery of your OPT card during an extended closing, such as the annual winter break, you may want to consider using your personal address at your own risk.
ISSS strongly recommends you make copies of all documents you send USCIS for your records.
Dates of Approval:
Upon approval by USCIS, the STEM extension period will begin the day after the expiration of the first OPT period (as listed on the EAD card) and ends automatically at the end of the STEM extension period.
Example: Current EAD expires October 1. STEM extension begins October 2 the same year.
Working While STEM Application is Pending
Maintaining Status While on STEM
Agency, 3rd Party & Contract Work: Special Consideration
“The training experience must take place on-site at the employer's place of business or worksite(s) to which U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has authority to conduct employer site visits to ensure that the employer is meeting program requirements. This means that ICE must always have access to a student's worksite; if the student is sent to different worksite locations as part of the training opportunity, ICE must be able to access such worksite locations. For instance, the training experience may not take place at the place of business or worksite of the employer's clients or customers because ICE would lack authority to visit such sites.”
- Increased site visits by USCIS to ensure employers are not placing OPT STEM employees at 3rd party worksites with no contractual relationships with the employer, specifically as contractors or employed through staffing agencies.
- Increased Requests for Evidence from USCIS questioning third-party worksite locations for STEM OPT students with pending H1B petitions.
Students on STEM Extension, please be aware both you and your employer should be prepared to justify your work site arrangements if you are working:
- at a site with a different company name than reported in SEVIS and the I-983.
- at a site with a different address than what is indicated on the I-983 or in SEVIS.
- at a site located in a state that is not where your U.S. residence is reported.
For more details about this update, please visit the USCIS website.
Employment Reporting Requirements
- Change of Employer
- When a STEM OPT student changes employers, the new employer must be enrolled in E-Verify before the student begins to work for pay. The student must also submit a new Form I-983 to their DSO within 10 days of starting the new practical training opportunity.
- When a student begins a new practical training opportunity with a new employer less than 10 days after leaving the student’s prior employer, the student may fulfill all reporting obligations (loss of employment and new training plan) by submitting a new Form I-983.
- Material Change in Current Employment
- Each STEM OPT student must report to their DSO any material changes to, or material deviations from, the student's formal training plan. In the event of a material change, the student must submit a new, updated I-983.
- Material changes or deviations from the original Form I-983 may include, but are not limited to:
- Any change of the employer’s EIN.
- Any reduction in student compensation that is not tied to a reduction in hours worked.
- Any significant decrease in hours per week that a student engages in a STEM training opportunity.
- Changes to the employer’s commitments or student’s learning objectives as documented on the Form I-983.
- Loss of Employment
- Change in the residential or mailing address
- Personal Changes (such as changes of name, citizenship, immigration status, etc.)
Student must report any of the changes listed above with 10 days of the change.
How to Report
Under "F-1 Practical Training," complete the OPT and OPT STEM Employment Reporting.
Please note: Any change of employer or material change in current employment requires that the student submit a new, updated I-983.
Students who are granted a 24-month STEM OPT extension are allowed an additional 60 days of unemployment beyond the initial post-completion OPT limit. This means that students who obtain a 24-month STEM OPT extension will receive, for a total of 150 days of allowable unemployment, 90 days during the initial period of post-completion OPT plus an additional 60 days during the extension period.
- Due 12months after the OPT STEM start date. Complete the "Evaluation On Student Progress" box on page 5 of section 6 of form I-983.
- Due 24months after the OPT STEM start date at the end of the approval period. Complete the "Final Evaluation On Student Progress" box right below the 12-month evaluation above.
Submit the evaluations via iStart to ISSS. The document must be signed by both the student and the employer.
As part of this six-month reporting, STEM OPT students must confirm that their SEVIS information correctly identifies their:
- Legal name.
- Residential or mailing address.
- Employer name and address.
- Status of current employment.
Students will receive an e-mail from ISSS reminding them to submit the 6-month employment confirmation.
H-1B Cap Gap
CAP: the annual limit or "cap" on the number of H1-B visas granted each year.
GAP: the period of time between the end of current status and approval for change of status (the gap), which includes work authorization.
All F-1 students who are currently on OPT, have timely filed for an H-1B, and have a USCIS issued I-797C receipt from immigration will automatically have their status and OPT work permission extended until the effective H1-B start date. No application is required. Contact an ISSS advisor for more information.
Students holding a degree in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) majors may be eligible for a 24-month extension after the first 12-month period of Post-Completion OPT period for a total of 36 months of OPT. Note: This new extension went into effect May 10, 2016. Any application that was pending on or submitted after May 10, 2016 will be processed under the new STEM regulations.
Students must be currently participating in an approved period of Post-Completion OPT and must hold a degree in a STEM-eligible field.
- STEM is not available at the Associate's Degree level, regardless of the degree program.
Students in the following majors, with the accompanying CIP codes, are STEM-eligible. (To determine your CIP code, look at page 3 of your I-20. The CIP code is the 6-digit numerical code (XX.XXXX) listed directly before your major at the top of the page):
Actuarial Science (52.1304)
- Analytics (52.1399)
Biology/Biological Sciences (26.0101)
Business Analysis (14.3701)
Computer Science (11.0701)
Computer Information Systems (11.0101)
Decision Sciences (14.2701)
Geology/Earth Science (40.0601)
- Geosciences (40.0699 and 45.0702)
- Hydrogeology (40.0601)
- Information Systems Audit & Control (11.1003)
- Instructional Design & Technology / Instructional Technology (13.0501)
- Library Media Technology (13.0501)
- Medical Technology (51.1005)
- Neuroscience (26.1501)
Operations Research (14.3701)
- Research Measurement & Statistics (13.0603)
For more information about STEM-designated degree programs view details or talk to an ISSS advisor.
- Students must be employed by an e-Verify employer.
- Students must work with employers to fill out Form I-983 and submit it to the ISSS office.
Students must apply for the STEM extension before the expiration date listed on their current EAD card issued by USCIS. Students may apply no earlier than 90 days prior to their EAD expiration date. ISSS further recommends eligible students apply no later than one month prior to the EAD expiration date, to allow time for processing and receipting at USCIS.
Refer to How to Apply section above
Upon approval by USCIS, the STEM extension period will begin the day after the first OPT period expires (as listed on the EAD card) and will end automatically on the last day of the STEM approval period.
- For example: The current EAD expires on 10/01/2017. The STEM period begins 10/02/2017 and will end on 10/01/2019.
Working While STEM Application is Pending:
If the student's current EAD has expired and a STEM extension has been receipted and is pending with USCIS, the student may continue to work for up to 180 days while the extension is pending. Upon approval, USCIS will issue and mail the student a new EAD card showing the extended dates.
During STEM Employment:
Students on STEM OPT employment must:
Work in a paid position for an E-Verify employer at least 20 hours per week
Work in a position related to the STEM degree
Report via the STEM OPT Employment Reporting form in iStart within 10 days of the following:
- Change of Employer (requires updated Form I-983)
Material Change in Current Employment (requires updated Form I-983)
Loss of employment
- Change in the residential or mailing address
- Personal Changes (such as change of name, citizenship, immigration status, etc.)
Report via the STEM OPT Employment Reporting form in iStart every 6 months from the start date of the STEM period the following, even if there have been no changes.
- Submit Annual Self-Evaluations via the STEM OPT Employment Reporting in iStart 12 months after the OPT STEM start date and upon the completion of the 24-month STEM period. The Self-Evaluation can be found on the final page of Form I-983.
Students on STEM OPT must Not:
Work for any employer who is not enrolled in E-Verify
Accrue more than 120 days of unemployment during the entire OPT period
Students may not enroll in classes during OPT. Consult an ISSS advisor for more information.
- If a student transfers to another school or begins another program during OPT, the OPT work authorization will automatically end, even though the EAD card will still appear valid. Consult an ISSS advisor for more information.
- Student must adhere to unemployment limits (120 days for students on STEM extension).
- Students on OPT must report any changes in employment or address via the STEM OPT Employment Reporting form within 10 days of the change. Please refer to the signed copy of the "OPT Statement of Understanding" (completed with ISSS upon applying for OPT) for more information.
- Students may travel outside the United States during OPT, but may return only if they have a job. Students must have proof of employment, a valid (unexpired) F-1 visa, a valid passport and an I-20 signed for travel on page 3 in order to return. Travel signature requests must be submitted to ISSS at least two weeks in advance of travel.
Students have a 60 day grace period following the expiration date of their STEM OPT authorization. During this time, students must do one of the following:
- Depart the United States,
- Become accepted into and receive an Initial-status I-20 form for a new degree program or educational level at Georgia State or another SEVIS-approved school in the United States,
- Transfer from Georgia State to begin another degree program at a SEVIS-approved school in the United States or
- Apply for a change of status from F-1 to another non-immigrant visa category.
Frequently Asked Questions About STEM Extension
Should I apply for the STEM extension if I am on the H1-B cap-gap?
Can I apply for 36 months at one time?
Can I change my major to become eligible for the extension?
What is E-Verify?
What should I do if my employer is not enrolled in E-Verify?
What if my H1-B is denied after my original OPT has ended?
What should I do if I am not a STEM student and did not file for the H1-B?
Severe Economic Hardship
Source: [8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(9)(ii)(C)-(D) and (F)]
Severe economic hardship employment authorization is occasionally authorized by USCIS. The authorization is usually for 1 year at a time to address major, unforeseen financial needs beyond an F1 student’s control that arose after the student began enrollment. Authorization is granted only after all other potential employment opportunities have proven insufficient. Examples include:
- loss of financial aid or on-campus employment without fault on the part of the student
- substantial fluctuations in the value of currency or exchange rate
- inordinate increases in tuition and/or living costs
- unexpected changes in the financial condition of the student’s source of support, medical bills or other substantial and unexpected expenses.
Note: pregnancy and related costs are not considered unforeseen.
Scope of Employment and Limitations
- The work performed can be in any type of job, not just related to the field of study.
- The work can be done in addition to a GRA or other on-campus employment.
- The authorization is automatically terminated if the student changes schools or loses F1 status, regardless of the dates on the EAD card the applicant will receive.
- A change of program or degree level at the same school are permitted and will not affect this type of authorization.
- You have been in F-1 status for one full academic year (fall + spring).
- You are in good academic standing and enrolled full-time.
- Employment will not interfere with your studies.
- You can demonstrate: A. the employment is necessary to avoid severe economic hardship due to unforeseen economic circumstances beyond your control. B. the needs creating the hardship were also unforeseen. C. on-campus employment opportunities are not available or they are insufficient to meet your need.
Advice: Have you considered CPT? This is another valid form of employment that has a $0 application fee and has the advantage of potential income, work experience and academic credit. Ask your international advisor if this might be an option.
- Completed Form I-765, using the code (C)(3)(iii) at item 16. Do not date the form until you are ready to send the application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- Copies of your current and previous I-20s
- Copy of electronic Form I-94(please click on the link for instructions)
- Copy of your F-1 visa page (except Canadians) or I-797 (approval of change of status to F-1), if applicable
- Copy of your unofficial transcript available from the Georgia State Registrar's Office.
- Copy of your passport page showing your biographical information and the expiration date
- Personal Check or U.S. money order in the amount of current I-765 filing fee made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security. View the current I-765 filing fee.
- Two full-face passport-style photos:
- must be color, identical, with a plain background and without wearing glasses.
- no more than 30 days old at the time of the application.
- put photos in a plain, white envelope with the check attached to the envelope. Do not staple. Use a paperclip.
ISSS will prepare an updated I-20 that indicates a request for Economic Hardship Authorization. Put this together with all the above materials in your application. Once you have all the documents, you will need to prepare and submit the above-mentioned items to USCIS in one packet at your own expense.
How to Apply
- Visit ISSS to meet with your international advisor during open advising hours. Bring all the documents listed in the Required Documentation section above.
- ISSS will review your items and send your request to SEVIS electronically. This will generate a new SEVIS I-20. The recommendation for this benefit will appear on page 3 of the new I-20.
- ISSS will notify you when your new SEVIS I-20 is available in 3-5 business days.
- Delivery or pick-up instructions are included in the e-form approval email.
- Sign your I-20 immediately.
- Mail your request to USCIS. See below.
Where to Apply
Employment Authorization Card (EAD)
- You may not begin employment until you have received the EAD.
- Authorization is granted in 1-year intervals up to the expected date of completion of studies.
- You may work part-time with the EAD when school is in session, but you must be enrolled as a full-time student. You may work full-time with the EAD during vacations.
- The employment does not have to be related to the course of study and it does not count towards the 20-hour on-campus maximum. You are advised to find employment relevant to your career goals, but that is not required.
ISSS is committed to maintaining support and services to you during this time and will continue to operate under normal operating procedures for the remainder of the semester, just from a remote and online platform. This means you can call us directly or email us to request information and/or telephone/web appointments for advisement during our regular advisement hours.