Optional Practical Training (OPT) for Students on F-1 Visas
What is OPT?
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment for practical training directly related to your major area of study. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the government authority that grants employment authorization for OPT to eligible students. The maximum time allowed for OPT is 12 months (one year). OPT must be completed within 14 months following the completion of study (as determined by the program end date on the I-20). OPT is a benefit of F-1 status, not a new status or a new visa. While on OPT, you are still in F-1 status and must obey all laws pertaining to that status.
Who is eligible?
Employment authorization for practical training may be authorized if you are an F-1 student who has been lawfully enrolled on a full-time basis, continuously for one full academic year. At UC San Diego, 3 quarters of study is equal to one academic year. Time spent studying in English language programs cannot be counted towards the academic year requirement.
How much does it cost?
There is a $410 application fee payable to the Department of Homeland Security, and, effective January 2020, a $200 OPT Student Service Fee must be paid to UC San Diego Extension. (Note: These fees may change.)
When should you apply for OPT?
You may apply up to 90 days before and 60 days after completing your program, and provided your program coordinator can confirm you are making normal progress toward completing the program.
How long does it take to get approval?
It takes 3-5 months for an OPT application to be analysed by USCIS and issue an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Students should apply early and plan ahead for this waiting period. You cannot begin working until the day your OPT starts and you have received your EAD.
When will my OPT begin and end?
You may request the starting date to be any time within the 60-day period after completing your program of study. You may not begin working until you have received your EAD and until the authorized starting data on the EAD.
Please note that the Extension International Student Services staff does not assist with job search or job placement services.
During OPT, you must be employed to maintain F-1 status. You may not accrue a total of more than 90 days of unemployment. If you exceed the period of unemployment while on post-completion OPT, you will violate your status unless you take one of the following actions:
- Apply to continue your education by a change of level or transferring to another SEVP – certified school
- Depart from the United States
- Take action to otherwise maintain legal status
While on OPT, you must report any changes in your address or legal name, employer name and address, change of employer, or any periods of unemployment.
If you have any questions about OPT or anything to do with your legal status in the U.S., always ask the Immigration Advisor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are two types of internship opportunities available through the Business Certificate Programs. Business Essentials students are offered the opportunity to participate in an internship in the second quarter of their program. Business Management students seek internships at companies in the San Diego community with the help and guidance of program staff. All internships are designed to introduce students to the American workplace and help them better understand business practices in the U.S.
Business Management Internship
One of the most rewarding experiences that students have after being accepted into the Business Management Certificate program is an unpaid 120-hour internship with one of San Diego’s dynamic companies. San Diego’s economy is one of diversity, made up of many start-ups, and small and mid-size companies in a variety of industries. International trade is a major contributor to San Diego’s economy, as well as organizations associated with manufacturing, military and defense, and the multi-billion dollar visitor and hospitality industry. Other important areas include telecommunications, electronics, computing, software, and biotechnology.
Internships provide students with opportunities to build their resumes with excellent, hands-on work experience, and to build confidence to pursue long-term goals. UC San Diego’s reputation as a premier, world-class university affords interns numerous opportunities with local companies in marketing, human resources, finance, and global commerce.
The Business Management Internship Process
To prepare for their internships, students participate during the first quarter in a special course that assists them in preparing resumes that are competitive and flawless. Students are offered tips and techniques on proper business etiquette for interviewing and correspondence, and they are given contact information for targeted companies with which UC San Diego Extension has built extensive relationships. They are coached on how to proceed through the process, which includes researching companies, making contact, following up, participating in interviews, and accepting offers.
Students perform their internships during the second quarter, usually working between 12 and 18 hours per week, while attending classes primarily at night.
Business Essentials Internship
Students who have been accepted into the Business Essentials program will be given the opportunity to pursue an internship during their second quarter. The 48-hour internships are intended to help entry-level students practice their English skills, gain work experience in an office environment, and gain exposure to the American workplace.
Students are involved in a variety of tasks that may include clerical and administrative duties, market research, database maintenance, customer service, spreadsheet development, resume screening, and more. The internship requires a professional commitment and is considered part of a student’s overall grade. Former students have worked in UC San Diego departments such as Business Affairs, the School of Medicine, Environmental Health and Safety, Facilities and Plant Services, and Academic Affairs. There are also internship opportunities in local companies.