Types of Post-Completion OPT Activities That Should be Reported
All OPT employment must be directly related to the student’s major field of study and commensurate with the degree level. The following types of paid and unpaid experiences are considered valid OPT activities according to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and should be reported to the ISSO.
Students may work part time (at least 20 hours per week when on post-completion OPT) or full-time.
Students may work for more than ne employer, but all employment must be related to the student’s degree program and for pre-completion OPT cannot exceed the allowed per week cumulative hours.
Short-term multiple employers (performing artists)
Students, such as musicians and other performing artists may work for multiple short term employers (gigs). The student should maintain a list of all gigs, the dates and duration. If requested by DHS, students must be prepared to provide evidence showing a list of all gigs.
Work for hire.
This is also commonly referred to as 1099 independent contractors where an individual performs a service based on a contractual relationship rather than an employment relationship. If requested by DHS, students must be prepared to provide evidence showing the duration of the contract periods and the name and address of the contracting company.
Self-employed business owner
Students on OPT may start a business and be self-employed. In this situation, the student must work full time. The student must be able to prove that he or she has the proper business licenses and is actively engaged in a business related to the student’s degree program.
Employment through an agency
Students on post-completion OPT must be able to provide evidence showing they worked an average of at least 20 hours per week while employed by the agency.
Students may serve as volunteers, unpaid interns, researchers, community service workers, etc, where this does not violate any labor laws. These students must be able to provide evidence from the organization that the student performed services at least 20 hours per week during the period of post-completion OPT.
What types of employment are allowed for students during an OPT STEM extension?
Students authorized for an OPT STEM extension must work at least 20 hours per week for an E-Verify employer in a paid position that is directly related to the student’s STEM degree. STEM students may work multiple jobs, but all the employers must be enrolled in E-Verify.
Students on a STEM extension are allowed to volunteer, incidental to their status. This means that volunteer work is allowed but does not count as employment for the purpose of maintaining F-1 status.
Students are encouraged to contact the student advising staff with questions relating to OPT activity.