Email sent March 26, 2019
Happy Spring Break and Spring Equinox!
I have some government updates that may pertain to some of you now and other of your for future consideration. Please read when you have a moment.
Qualifying to extend your post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT)
Certain F-1 students who receive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees may apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion optional practical training (OPT). Unfortunately, CIIS degree codes are not categorized under the STEM degrees and therefore do not qualify. There is one exception to this rule— the HSX doctoral program.
Previously obtained STEM degrees: If you are an F-1 student participating in a 12-month period of post-completion OPT based on a non-STEM degree, you may be eligible to use a previous STEM degree from a U.S. institution of higher education to apply for a STEM OPT extension. You must have received both degrees from currently accredited and SEVP-certified institutions, and cannot have already received a STEM OPT extension based on this previous degree. The practical training opportunity also must be directly related to the previously obtained STEM degree.
· For example: If you are currently participating in OPT based on a master’s degree in counseling psychology but you previously received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics, you may be able to apply for a STEM OPT extension based on your bachelor’s degree as long as it is from an accredited U.S. college or university and the OPT employment opportunity is directly related to your bachelor’s degree in mathematics.
You can find this information at:
1) CIIS OPT Frequently Asked Questions document on MyCIIS--Student Affairs--International Students
Counting unlawful presence in the U.S.—new definitions to the unlawful presence rule that can affect your future visa/green card applications
This new rule was effective August 2018
This was discussed briefly at the immigration lawyer’s presentation, but I want to reiterate it now. This rule is a serious change to the previous rule, and there are a lot of unknowns for how government officials will interpret particulars of the rule. International education and law organizations are advocating to change the rule back—to be seen. I don’t imagine this will affect CIIS students, but it is good to be in the know and where to look for pitfalls, etc.
- Key topics university advisors think will be scrutinized
- As this is a new rule, advisors don’t know exactly how this will pan out. Most discussions find that employment and enrollment are the items that will come to be highly scrutinized during an OPT application, and H1B/green card application, or at airports/border to the U.S. During these times, the government can ask for detailed documents for which if they find a past violation they will deny the application/entry and backdate unlawful presence from the time the infraction occurred.
- There have been an increases Request for Evidence (RFE) during OPT and H1B visa applications. Documents requested could be tax documents, list of hours worked during CPT and so on. If they don’t find a correlation to your enrollment and participating in CPT, for example, they could ding your there. Keep good records!
- What is unlawful presence?
This is the time spent in the U.S. out of status; out of status is when you have violated the terms of the F-1 (M and J visa and all dependents) visa such as working off campus without permission, or not registering full-time or without approved exception. Even if students unknowingly violate terms, if/when triggered, the unlawful presence is counted from the day after such violation occurred.
- When does the clock start ticking on unlawful presence?
- Day after the F/J/M student no longer pursues a full course of study and is not authorized for a Reduced Course Load.
- The day after completing a course of study or program (which includes the OPT and the 60-day grace period)
- Day after the I-94 expires , if you have a specific date on your I-94.
- What are the effects of unlawful presence
- If 180 days or up to 365 days, 3 year bar from entering the U.S.
- If 360 days or more, 10 year bar from entering the U.S.
- Triggered upon departing the U.S.; you will not be deported or find ICE knocking on your door
- How do I maintain my status?
- Please find the “Maintaining Your Visa Status” document on MyCIIS. You are welcome to attend the New International Student Orientation again (and again) if you like.
- Reminders: key points to consider
- Always check that your I-94 has the correct status upon each entry to the U.S. It should say F-1 and D/S (‘duration of status’) and the date and airport that you last arrived to the U.S. If there are any errors, contact Jody or Yuwen.
- Keep track of the total of your on-campus jobs and be sure to work no more than 20 hours/week during the fall and spring semester, and 40 hours/week during the summer semester.
- Always report your CPT. Keep track of your hours per week, and if you don’t have a time card as such, perhaps get weekly emails from your supervisor attesting to your time for the week.
- Never work off campus without permission.
- Don’t update your social media with places you may be volunteering as ‘working’; don’t put any work that you may be doing without permission on social media!
- Concerns? Feel free to check with Jody or Yuwen, but in most cases it will be advised to contact an immigration lawyer.