Individuals seeking initial entry to the U.S. in F-1 (Student) or J-1 (Exchange Visitor) status, as well as individuals seeking a change of status to F-1 or J-1, are required to pay a fee which supports the automated system (SEVIS) that keeps track of students and exchange visitors and verifies that they are in valid status while in the U.S. The SEVIS fee is $200 for F-1 students and $180 for J-1 Exchange Visitors.
DHS Publishes New OPT Regulations (Effective April 8, 2008)
Automatic extension of lawful status for F-1 students petitioning for H-1B work authorization
The status of an F-1 student who has applied for H-1B will be automatically extended, along with any authorized period of OPT, until October 1 of the fiscal year for which the H-1B petition was filed. This means that students whose OPT will expire before the start date of H-1B employment may stay in the U.S. and work until H-1B employment begins on October 1. F-1 students who have not been approved for optional practical training may lawfully remain in the U.S. but may not work until H-1B authorization takes effect. The automatic extension of status also applies to any F-2 dependents. If the H-1B petition is rejected the automatic extension of status and OPT work authorization (if any) will immediately terminate.
Extension of OPT for certain students
- The F-1 student must be currently participating in a 12-month period of approved post-completion OPT.
- The F-1 student must have successfully completed a degree in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics field (STEM field). To be recommended for an OPT Extension, you must have a CIP code from the Department of Homeland Security's STEM Designated CIP list, and this code must appear on the third page of your I-20.
- The F-1 student must be working for a US employer in a job directly related to the student's major area of study.
- The F-1 student must be working for (or have accepted employment with) an employer who is enrolled in the E-Verify system.*
- The F-1 student is otherwise maintaining his/her F-1 status.
*E-Verify is a DHS program that provides employers with an automated link to federal databases to determine the employment eligibility of new hires and the validity of their Social Security numbers.
Limitation on period of unemployment for all students on OPT
In the initial 12-month period of post-completion OPT available to all students, not more than 90 days of unemployment is permitted. Students who have obtained a 17-month extension may not be unemployed for more than 120 days during the aggregate 29-month period.
OPT application permitted within 60 days of program end
Whereas students were previously required to submit their OPT application to USCIS prior to the end of their academic program, all students will now be permitted to apply within the 60-day period following the program end. Students may apply for post-completion OPT no more than 90 days before their program end date.