COVID-19 FAQ for International Students and Visiting Scholars

International Education & Global Engagement
    1. What is OPT?
      • Optional practical training (OPT) is defined in immigration regulations as 'temporary employment for practical training directly related to the student's major area of study.'( 8 C.F.R. § 214.2(f)(10)(ii)) OPT is approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
    2. Can I do CPT or work on campus while my application is being processed?
      • It is very likely that your program of study, listed in your original I-20, will be shortened in order to process your OPT request. With this in mind, you will not be ableto work on campus or be eligible for CPT after the end of your program, as printed in the OPT I-20.
    3. How much time do I have to find a job?
      • You may not begin working until you receive your OPT approval (EAD card) and your start date on your EAD card has begun. During your OPT period on your EAD card, you can have only up to 90 days of unemployment. However, you could start your job search as early as you would like. Make sure to be prepared to explain OPT and its implications to your potential employers. Career Development Center is a great place to visit to start your job search. Workshops on job search specifically for international students are also offered each semester so please make sure to check your email inbox for announcements.
    4. How long does it take for OPT to be approved?
      • It takes CIE 7-10 business days to process your application. After you mail your OPT application to USCIS, it takes USCIS approximately 90 days to approve your OPT.
    5. I heard there is Pre-Completion OPT in other schools. Can I apply for Pre-Completion OPT?
      • No, CSULB does not approve Pre-Completion OPT.
    6. Can I apply for OPT when I am completing all my coursework except for comprehensive exam, project, or thesis?
      • Yes, you can apply for OPT as long as you have completed or are in the progress of completing all the courses required by your degree program. Please be advised that if you do not complete your project/thesis/comprehensive exam by the end of your OPT period, you will not be eligible for a program extension on your I-20 (see 8 CFR 214.2(f)(5), (10), (11), and (12) and 247a.12(c)(6)(iv) and (v) ). If you have any questions, please contact an International Student Advisor.
    7. How do I choose my OPT start date?
      • You will need to choose an OPT start date between the day after your program end date and 60 days after your program end date. However, your authorized OPT start date on your EAD card will be either the preferred start date you requested or the date USCIS approves your application, whichever is later. You may not begin working until you receive the approval (EAD card) and your start date on your EAD card has begun.
    8. What do I do after OPT?
      • If you qualify for STEM OPT Extension, make sure to plan and apply in a timely manner. Other F-1 students who complete an OPT have a 60-day grace period. During the grace period, students need to leave the U.S., gain a new F-1 status, or seek another immigration status. CIE usually provides a workshop regarding visa options after OPT each semester so please make sure to check your email inbox for announcements.
    9. What visa or status would I be on when I am doing OPT?
      • You will still be on F-1 status when you are on OPT. Therefore, when you travel and re-enter the U.S., you will need a valid F-1 visa.
    10. How do I maintain my F-1 status during OPT?
      • You need to maintain your F-1 status when you are on OPT by having qualifying employment with less than 90 days of unemployment and reporting employment and address updates to CIE. For details, please click here.
    11. Can CIE or USCIS expedite my OPT application?
      • No expedited service is available for OPT applications. To ensure a timely processing of your OPT application, please make sure of the following:
        • Your contact information on your MyCSULB account is updated
        • CIE has a copy of your current passport on file
        • Your application documents are complete and correct
        • Your registration holds are cleared
    12. What are the common mistakes students make when applying for working under OPT?
      • The following common mistakes can delay your OPT application processing or even result in a denial of your application:
        • Application is not submitted within the timeframe
        • Application is incomplete
        • Check is dated too far away in the future
        • Pictures do not follow requirements
        • Failure to respond to the an Request for Further Evidence (RFE) by the given deadline
    13. How do I report my employment status?
    14. Do I need to inform CIE if I decide to cancel my OPT?
      • Yes, you must inform a CIE advisor about your decision to cancel the OPT request, end your OPT early, and your plans after the completion of your OPT period. The OPT Employment and Address Update form can be used to inform CIE about your plans.
    15. Can I get a Social Security Number (SSN) with my OPT authorization?
      • Yes. All individuals who will be employed in the United States must have a SSN. You will need your EAD card and new I-20 to apply for the SSN.
    16. Do I need to pay taxes?
    17. I lost my EAD - how do I apply for a replacement card?

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