7.4.3 Optional Practical Training (OPT) for F-1 Students – EAD Required

7.4.3 Optional Practical Training (OPT) for F-1 Students – EAD Required

OPT provides practical training experience that directly relates to an F-1 student’s major area of study. An F-1 student authorized for OPT may work up to 20 hours per week while school is in session and full-time (20 or more hours per week) when school is not in session. After completing their course of study, students also may participate in OPT for work experience. USCIS may authorize an F-1 student to have up to 12 months of OPT upon completion of their degree program. Certain F-1 students may be eligible for an extension of their OPT, see Section 7.4.4 F-1 STEM OPT Extension.

The designated school official must update Form I-20 to indicate OPT recommendation or approval. OPT employment must be directly related to the student’s field of study noted on Form I-20. The student must obtain an EAD from USCIS before they are authorized to work. The student may not begin employment until the date indicated on the EAD.

The EAD establishes the student’s identity and employment authorization for Form I-9 purposes and the employer should record the card number and expiration date under List A in Section 2. When the student’s EAD expires, the employer must reverify the student’s employment authorization in Section 3.

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