OPTIONAL PRACTICAL TRAINING (OPT)

Do I need to add/update my OPT information in SEVIS?
Yes, while you are on Optional Practical Training, you are still on F-1 status at the University of Maryland and you still need to update your information in SEVIS through ISSS. Once you have found an employer, login to your iTerp account>CPT/OPT/STEM Related>OPT:  Report New Employer Information.  


Am I eligible for OPT/STEM?
F-1 students who meet certain requirements are eligible to apply for OPT, which is an employment authorization in your field of study for up to 12 months for each level of study. In order to be eligible to apply for OPT, you need to be in valid F-1 status for at least one academic year, be in possession of a valid passport, and be currently registered full-time or be authorized to be part-time by ISSS for your final semester. Students who have completed more than 11 months of full-time CPT are not eligible to apply for OPT. Students who have a degree in a Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math (STEM) field may also apply for a STEM extension, which follows the initial 12 months of OPT and allows for 24 more months of employment experience.

The first step to apply for OPT is to sign up for an OPT session through the ISSS calendar to learn more about the process, limitations, and requirements.


I want to attend an OPT workshop. What should I do?
Students who attend an OPT workshop have to register first. Because of the high demand to apply for OPT this is a requirement. However, students cancel reservations regularly so you may want to check consistently whether a space has opened. The workshops are offered multiple times a week. To register, log in to your 
iTerp(link is external) account, click on Session Sign-Ups > OPT Workshop or OPT Workshop for MS Business Students.


My OPT is ending early. What should I do?
After the completion of your OPT, you have a 60 day grace period to either leave the US, start a new program of study, or change to another status. If you have accrued 90 days of unemployment or otherwise not maintained your status while on OPT, you do not have a grace period.

Transitioning to another status or beginning a new course of study also ends your OPT period. If you have been approved for a change of status, please submit your approval notice to ISSS so that we can update your records accordingly. If you are starting a new course of study at the University of Maryland, your OPT will end once your new program starts. If you are starting a new course of study at another university, you will need to complete the transfer out process, and once your record is transferred to the new university, your OPT ends.

If you want to end your OPT early and leave the US, please send us your travel information and a short note regarding your plans so that we can update your records.


My OPT information has changed. What should I do?
The University of Maryland remains your sponsor during your OPT period. During that time, you are required to report any changes (for example, address changes, employment changes, status change, etc.) to ISSS within 10 days. To update details about a previously reported period of employment, log in to your 
iTerp(link is external) account, click F-1 Student Services > CPT/OPT/STEM Related > OPT: Update Existing Employer Information


Can I travel on OPT before receiving an EAD?
USCIS informed ISSS that before receiving an EAD, OPT applicants should at a minimumtravel with their I-765 receipt, in addition to standard immigration documentation (I-20, passport, I-94, etc.). ISSS staff was informed of the new policy at a conference so we cannot provide definitive documentation proving the US government's change in policy. See the
 Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) page on F-1 overseas travel(link is external). Note the frequently-asked question at the bottom of the page: 2.N. Can I reenter if my request for OPT is pending? An answer is provided, but without further citation or advice regarding documentation that a traveler should carry. Therefore, OIS strongly advises students NOT to travel before receiving their EAD card because of the government's lack of guidance or instruction.

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