Excerpts from the Code of U.S. Federal regulations 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10) and following
(10) Practical training.
Practical training may be authorized to an F-1 student who has been lawfully enrolled on a full time basis, in a Service-approved college, university, conservatory, or seminary for one full academic year. This provision also includes students who, during their course of study, were enrolled in a study abroad program, if the student had spent at least one full academic term enrolled in a full course of study in the United States prior to studying abroad. A student may be authorized 12 months of practical training, and becomes eligible for another 12 months of practical training when he or she changes to a higher educational level. Students in English language training programs are ineligible for practical training. An eligible student may request employment authorization for practical training in a position that is directly related to his or her major area of study. There are two types of practical training available:
(i) Curricular practical training.
An F-1 student may be authorized by the DSO to participate in a curricular practical training program that is an integral part of an established curriculum. Curricular practical training is defined to be alternative work/study, internship, cooperative education, or any other type of required internship or practicum that is offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school. Students who have received one year or more of full time curricular practical training are ineligible for post-completion academic training. Exceptions to the one academic year requirement are provided for students enrolled in graduate studies that require immediate participation in curricular practical training. A request for authorization for curricular practical training must be made to the DSO. A student may begin curricular practical training only after receiving his or her Form I-20 with the DSO endorsement.
(A) Non-SEVIS process. [not applicable]
(B) SEVIS process. [DSO procedures]
(ii) Optional practical training
(A) General. Consistent with the application and approval process in paragraph (f)(11) of this section, a student may apply to USCIS for authorization for temporary employment for optional practical training directly related to the student's major area of study. The student may not begin optional practical training until the date indicated on his or her employment authorization document, Form I–766. A student may be granted authorization to engage in temporary employment for optional practical training:
(1) During the student's annual vacation and at other times when school is not in session, if the student is currently enrolled, and is eligible for registration and intends to register for the next term or session;
(2) While school is in session, provided that practical training does not exceed 20 hours a week while school is in session; or
(3) After completion of the course of study, or, for a student in a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree program, after completion of all course requirements for the degree (excluding thesis or equivalent). Continued enrollment, for the school's administrative purposes, after all requirements for the degree have been met does not preclude eligibility for optional practical training. A student must complete all practical training within a 14-month period following the completion of study, except that a 17-month extension pursuant to paragraph (f)(10)(ii)(C) of this section does not need to be completed within such 14-month period.
(B) Termination of practical training. Authorization to engage in optional practical training employment is automatically terminated when the student transfers to another school or begins study at another educational level.
(C) 17-month extension of post-completion OPT for students with a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degree.Consistent with paragraph (f)(11)(i)(C) of this section, a qualified student may apply for an extension of OPT while in a valid period of post-completion OPT. The extension will be for an additional 17 months, for a maximum of 29 months of OPT, if all of the following requirements are met.
( 1 ) The student has not previously received a 17-month OPT extension after earning a STEM degree.
( 2 ) The degree that was the basis for the student's current period of OPT is a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in one of the degree programs on the current STEM Designated Degree Program List, published on the SEVP Web site at http://www.ice.gov/sevis.
( 3 ) The student's employer is registered in the E-Verify program, as evidenced by either a valid E-Verify company identification number or, if the employer is using a designated agent to perform the E-Verify queries, a valid E-Verify client company identification number, and the employer is a participant in good standing in the E-Verify program, as determined by USCIS.
( 4 ) The employer agrees to report the termination or departure of an OPT employee to the DSO at the student's school or through any other means or process identified by DHS if the termination or departure is prior to end of the authorized period of OPT. Such reporting must be made within 48 hours of the event. An employer shall consider a worker to have departed when the employer knows the student has left the employment or if the student has not reported for work for a period of 5 consecutive business days without the consent of the employer, whichever occurs earlier.
(D) Action of the DSO-Non SEVIS schools. [not applicable]
(E) Periods of unemployment during post-completion OPT . During post-completion OPT, F–1 status is dependent upon employment. Students may not accrue an aggregate of more than 90 days of unemployment during any post-completion OPT carried out under the initial post-completion OPT authorization. Students granted a 17-month OPT extension may not accrue an aggregate of more than 120 days of unemployment during the total OPT period comprising any post-completion OPT carried out under the initial post-completion OPT authorization and the subsequent 17-month extension period.
(11) OPT application and approval process
(i) Student responsibilities. A student must initiate the OPT application process by requesting a recommendation for OPT from his or her DSO. Upon making the recommendation, the DSO will provide the student a signed Form I–20 indicating that recommendation.
(A) Application for employment authorization . The student must properly file a Form I–765, Application for Employment Authorization, with USCIS, accompanied by the required fee for the Form I–765, and the supporting documents, as described in the form's instructions.
(B) Filing deadlines for pre-completion OPT and post-completion OPT.
(1 ) Students may file a Form I–765 for pre-completion OPT up to 90 days before being enrolled for one full academic year, provided that the period of employment will not start prior to the completion of the full academic year.
( 2 ) For post-completion OPT, the student must properly file his or her Form I–765 up to 90 days prior to his or her program end-date and no later than 60 days after his or her program end-date. The student must also file the Form I–765 with USCIS within 30 days of the date the DSO enters the recommendation for OPT into his or her SEVIS record.
(C) Applications for 17-month OPT extension. A student meeting the eligibility requirement in paragraph (f)(10)(ii)(C) of this section may file for a 17-month extension of employment authorization by filing Form I–765, Application for Employment Authorization, with the appropriate fee, prior to the expiration date of the student's current OPT employment authorization. If a student timely and properly files an application for a 17-month OPT extension, but the Form I–766, Employment Authorization Document, currently in the student's possession, expires prior to the decision on the student's application for 17-month OPT extension, the student's Form I–766 is extended automatically pursuant to the terms and conditions specified in 8 CFR274a.12(b)(6)(iv).
(D) Start of employment.A student may not begin employment prior to the approved starting date on his or her employment authorization except as noted in paragraph (f)(11)(i)(C) of this section. A student may not request a start date that is more than 60 days after the student's program end date. Employment authorization will begin on the date requested or the date the employment authorization is adjudicated, whichever is later.
(ii) DSO responsibilities. [DSO procedures]
(iii) Decision on application for OPT employment authorization. USCIS will adjudicate the Form I–765 and, if approved, issue an EAD on the basis of the DSO's recommendation and other eligibility considerations.
(A) The employment authorization period for post-completion OPT begins on the date requested or the date the employment authorization application is approved, whichever is later, and ends at the conclusion of the remaining time period of post-completion OPT eligibility. The employment authorization period for the 17-month OPT extension begins on the day after the expiration of the initial post-completion OPT employment authorization and ends 17 months thereafter, regardless of the date the actual extension is approved.
(B) USCIS will notify the applicant of the decision and, if the application is denied, of the reason or reasons for the denial.
(C) The applicant may not appeal the decision.
(12) Reporting while on optional practical training.
(i) General. An F–1 student who is authorized by USCIS to engage in optional practical training (OPT) employment is required to report any change of name or address, or interruption of such employment to the DSO for the duration of the optional practical training. A DSO who recommends a student for OPT is responsible for updating the student's record to reflect these reported changes for the duration of the time that training is authorized.
(ii) Additional reporting obligations for students with an approved 17-month OPT.Students with an approved 17-month OPT extension have additional reporting obligations. Compliance with these reporting requirements is required to maintain F–1 status. The reporting obligations are:
(A) Within 10 days of the change, the student must report to the student's DSO a change of legal name, residential or mailing address, employer name, employer address, and/or loss of employment.
(B) The student must make a validation report to the DSO every six months starting from the date the extension begins and ending when the student's F–1 status ends, the student changes educational levels at the same school, or the student transfers to another school or program, or the 17-month OPT extension ends, whichever is first. The validation is a confirmation that the student's information in SEVIS for the items in listed in paragraph (f)(12)(ii)(A) of this section is current and accurate. This report is due to the student's DSO within 10 business days of each reporting date.
(13) Temporary absence from the United States of F–1 student granted employment authorization.
(i) A student returning from a temporary trip abroad with an unexpired off-campus employment authorization on his or her I–20 ID may resume employment only if the student is readmitted to attend the same school which granted the employment authorization.
(ii) An F–1 student who has an unexpired EAD issued for post-completion practical training and who is otherwise admissible may return to the United States to resume employment after a period of temporary absence. The EAD must be used in combination with an I–20 ID endorsed for reentry by the DSO within the last six months.
(14) Effect of strike or other labor dispute. Any employment authorization, whether or not part of an academic program, is automatically suspended upon certification by the Secretary of Labor or the Secretary's designee to the Commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service or the Commissioner's designee, that a strike or other labor dispute involving a work stoppage of workers is in progress in the occupation at the place of employment. As used in this paragraph, “place of employment” means the facility or facilities where a labor dispute exists. The employer is prohibited from transferring F–1 students working at other facilities to the facility where the work stoppage is occurring.