Can OPT lead to H1B?

As we get into the H1B filing season for 2015 (H1Bs are filed in 2014 for the following year), students on F1 visas and their employers are anxious about being selected in the H1B lottery.

This year like last, I suspect the demand will overwhelm availability of H1B visas for student and other applicants. Last year, USCIS received 124,000 applications for 65,000 H1B visas, including 20,000 H1B visas set aside for US Master degree holders.

STEM Students

STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) students are at an advantage. They are able to avail of OPT (optional practical training) for 29 months, and hence get two bites of the H1B apple. They can apply this year and the next while maintaining status in F visa and being lawfully present in the US.

The advantage is that the student:

  • Can work full time.
  • Would qualify for the cap gap extension.
  • Can apply for the 17-month extension

The Takeaway

In essence, a STEM student on 29 month OPT gets 2 bites of the H1B apple, because the sponsoring employer is able to apply again the following year if the student is not selected in the H1B lottery the first time.

See you in my next blog.

Nalini S Mahadevan, JD, MBA
Immigration Attorney St. Louis, Missouri

The information is not meant to create a client-attorney relationship. This blog is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for legal advice. Situations may differ based on the facts.

Tara Mahadevan Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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Tri-Valley University International Students

What do you do when the university you attend loses accreditation? If you are a US citizen, you go to another university or college, without any hiccups. But, guess what happens to the international student studying at the now defunct university? This is what happened to Tri-Valley University. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) cancelled the university’s accreditation. A school needs to be accredited by ICE in order to admit international students to study at their college. The demand for study in the United States is so enormous that there is seemingly ample scope for fraud. Allegedly, over 300 students were enrolled at the University using the same local address. International students need to maintain their status or follow conditions of their visa. They cannot work without authorization; take less than a full course of study; quit school without informing the school; enroll in more than 3 credit hours of online courses; be expelled from school; be suspended; or otherwise fail to follow student regulations. This is rther a broad list of events that can trigger falling out of status.

I also get asked questions about students working. Students can work, but with limits and with permission. In general, the student cannot work the first year. Students can work on campus and off campus. On campus, the student can work the first year, as soon as they are admitted to the school. Students can work in the cafeteria, library or at the bookstore. The place of work must be educationally affiliated to the university. During the school year, only 20 hours of work is permitted during the school year; only full time work is allowed during holidays. International students cannot work on campus if they have finished their coursework. Summer work by international students is allowed provided if they have the required paperwork from their school. Off campus employment is allowed only if the student experiences severe economic hardship and the work is authorized by the school. No off campus employment is allowed in the first year. Other types of employment are curricular practical training (CPT) and optional practical training (OPT). CPT is available after one year of study, which is about 8 to 9 months. The work is related to the course of study and is practical training. There is no CPT to learn English. So CPT is really work study, internship or practical training. The university has to authorize the training with the employer. OPT can be exercised during summer vacation or after completing the coursework. OPT can be full or part time. Unauthorized work will put the student out of status.

Most universities that admit international students follow the rules. Foreign students are required to contact the Designated School Official (DSO) with changes in work, study and permission to leave the country or take fewer hours.

See you in my next blog.

Nalini S Mahadevan, JD, MBA

Attorney at Law

www.lawyersyoucantalkto.com

Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.

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