What to do if my OPT expired few months ago and now my high school wants to hire me but I don’t have a work permit?

UPDATED: Dec 22, 2013

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What to do if my OPT expired few months ago and now my high school wants to hire me but I don’t have a work permit?

My mother is a 10 year green card holder and my brother is a citizen. What is the fastest way for me to get a work permit?

Asked on December 22, 2013 under Immigration Law, New York


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

OPT is temporary employment authorization for F-1 students to gain experience in jobs directly related to your major area of study. You are eligible for a total of 12 months of OPT available per education level (e.g. Bachelor’s, Master’s, Doctorate).

OPT Quick Facts:

  • You do not need a job offer to apply for OPT
  • You may not pursue a new course of study while on OPT.
  • The application is approved by United States Customs & Immigration Service (USCIS), but OPT must first be recommended by OIA.
  • The approval process for USCIS takes between three and four months.
  • Pre-Completion OPT (Before program end date)
    • Part time while classes are in session (20 hours or less per week, cannot be averaged)
    • Full time or part time during breaks or vacation quarters
    • Master’s/Doctoral Students ONLY: Full-time or part-time after courses finished, while working on thesis
  • Post-Completion OPT (After graduation, or after completion of course requirements for MA/PhD students)
    • Granted on a full time basis only (over 20 hours a week)
    • All previous periods of OPT at the same level are deducted from the 12-month total. Part-time OPT is counted at a half-rate.  Example: Four months part time OPT is subtracted from the total as two months.

Eligibility Requirements

  1. Registered full-time for at least one academic year (three quarters) in valid F-1 status
  2. Present in the U.S. in valid F-1 status at the time of application.

Important Notes:

  • Twelve months or more of full time CPT makes you ineligible for OPT.

  • On-campus employment does not count against the 12-month OPT eligibility.


Employment Requirements & Types of Employment

Employment Requirements (Post-Completion OPT)

  • Unemployment:  During your initial post-completion OPT period, you can have up to 90 days of unemployment.  The STEM OPT extension allows 120 days of unemployment (for the entire time spent on OPT).   
  • Reporting: You must report all employers to OIA within 10 days of a new job.

Showing that OPT is directly related to a degree program

  • The Student Exchange and Visitor Program (SEVP) recommends that students maintain evidence - for each job - of the position held, proof of the duration of that position, the job title, contact information for the student's supervisor or manager, and a description of the work.
  • If it is not clear from the job description that the work is related to the student's degree, SEVP highly recommends that the student obtain a signed letter from the student's supervisor or manager or the employer's hiring official stating how the student's degree is related to the work performed.

Types of Paid Employment:

  • Multiple employers: You may work for more than one employer, but all jobs must be related to your field.
  • Short-term multiple employers (performing artists): You’re allowed to have multiple short term jobs or gigs (e.g. music performances).  Keep a list of all gigs, the employer, and duration of each.
  • Work for hire: Commonly referred to as 1099 or Independent Contractor Employment; keep evidence of the duration of contract periods and the name and address of the contracting company.
  • Self-employed business owner: You can start a business or be self-employed while on OPT.  You should be able to prove that you have the proper business licenses and that it is related to your degree program.
  • Employment through an agency or consulting firm is also allowed.

Unpaid Employment:

  • You may work as a volunteer or unpaid intern, where this practice does not violate labor laws.

I would make a new application for OPT and/or make an application for residence in this country so as to try and get your work permit. Consult with an immigration attorney.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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