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OPT-What it Means to Me
source : North Seattle Community College

Optional Practical Training (or OPT) is program offered by the Immigration
and Naturalization Service for international students to get job experience in their field of study.  The following questions and answers should give you own, please see us in the International Student Programs Office.

Q: OPT is working visa, right?
A: No, it's not a visa at all. The worker's visa is an H visa.  OPT is simply
permission to work off campus while you are still in F-1 student status.

Q: So I can just go out and get any job?
A: No, the purpose is for you to get experience in your field.  If you earned a
certificate in Accounting, and you work as a Webmaster, you are not fulfilling the terms of the program.  You need to find a job in Accounting.

Q: Is it easy to get the OPT work permission?
A: Yes.  As long as you have been in status for at least 9 months before you
apply, and you have successfully completed your program of study (or will complete it soon), ISN will give the authorization.

Q: How long can I work?
A: You may apply for any time period up to 12 months.  If you apply for 6
months, and decide later to extend the permission, you can do so, up to a total of 12 months.  However, once you have used your 12 months it is gone, even if you transfer to another school or degree level.  For example, If you get a Certificate in Webmaster, complete 12 months of OPT, and then transfer to the UW Bothell and earn a Bachelor's degree, you will not get another 12 months of OPT.  Your time is used up.

Q: I'm earning an AA.  How do I know if the job I'm interested in is in my field of study?
A: OPT is not authorized for NSCC's AA program for this reason.  It is a
transfer degree, not a job degree, so there's no field of study.  It's a collection of general education course.   In addition, the purpose is for you to transfer, not get a job, so there's no job experience that would give you training at the appropriate level.  It's much more appropriate to get job experience after your Bachelor's.  The only exception is the Business AA.

Q: What about the AS?
A: The AS does have a field of study, or major, so you may get permission
for OPT. But again it would probably be better to save your OPT for after your Bachelor's degree.

Q: If I get the work permission, and I don't find a job, is my time still used?
A: Yes.  The permission is give for specific dates, whether you are actually
working or not.  It's in your best interest to begin looking for work as soon as you apply for OPT, so that you can begin working right away when you get permission and you don't lose time.

Q: Can I travel outside the US while I have OPT permission?
A: Yes.  To return no US, you'll need to show your I-20, your EAD (work
permission card), and a letter from your employer.

Q: My card say's "not valid for travel," but you just said I could.
A: The card is not valid for travel by itself.  But with the card, I-20 and the
letter from your employer, you may reenter the US.
est. 9/1999
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