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Understanding OPT

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  • Understanding OPT

    I have a friend who is in the US on an F-1 visa and just graduated. She applied for OPT and must get a job in her field by October to extend her stay in the US. However, she still does not have a job, and likely will not land a job by October. She's doing tutoring and volunteering (20 hours total per week), but from what I understand, volunteering does not count towards work hours.

    What will happen when October arrives and she doesn't have a job? What are her options if she doesn't have a job by then? What if she continues to stay in the US?

    I'm asking this because she plans on staying in the US regardless of whether she gets a job or not, and it doesn't sound like a good idea.

  • #2
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    • #3
      Once her OPT ends, she has the following options:

      1) File for STEM extension but remember the application must be filled before her OPT ends. However, without an actual job, she won’t be eligible for STEM extension.

      2) Change education level and begin attending classes within five months of the last day of her OPT or the next available session, whichever comes sooner. For example: if she did her MS, she could now enroll in PhD.

      3) Start a new degree program (at the same level). For example: if she did her MS in CS, she could start MS in IT now. Note: she won’t be getting OPT at the end of her degree though.

      4) File for permanent residency (Green card) through EB-2 NIW category which is a self petition so doesn't require employment and she can then stay as long as her petition is pending with USCIS.

      5) Depart the U.S. within the 60 day grace period.

      If she decides to stay without doing any of the above, she will be considered an illegal immigrant at the end of that grace period which, let’s just say, will make things extremely difficult for her especially if she intends to live a good life with a good job in the US with no fear of deportation.

      NOTE: That is just my opinion and should not be taken as legal advice.