April 19, 2016

OPT supports foreign students

International students spend large amounts of time and money to study in the United States to broaden their career opportunities. A U.S. government program Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), allows students to stay and work here after graduation.

OPT is temporary employment for students to integrate their area of study with jobs. While holding a job under OPT, a student must work a minimum of 21 hours per week.

“I have been in Cleveland and in the United States for six years,” said Qitai Niu, a senior finance major at Cleveland State. “I want to stay here and find a job and I want to be a part of this country.”

According to the Center for International Services and Programs at Cleveland State, a Designated School Officer (DSO) in The International Center must recommend a student be approved for OPT, which is granted by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the form of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

After students graduate, the government grants a 60-day grace period to allow international students to stay in the U.S. even without an OPT. If students wish to work within the States, they must apply for an OPT and receive their EAD card before the date they want to start working.

“OPT is one of the ways that help me to stay,” Niu said. “It is a mixed feelings of fear and excitement at the same time. I hope I can have what I always dreamed of, and it is important to achieve them here.”

It takes 60 to 90 days for USCIS to process the application. International students are not allowed to work in the U.S. without EAD. If students want to apply for OPT, they should plan ahead and be aware of the time restriction.

If you are an international graduate and you are thinking of employment in the United States, it is not too late to apply for OPT and get your EAD on time. For more information, visit www.csuohio.edu/international/international.


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