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F-1 Unemployment Period and SEVIS Info Update

August 27, 2020 Leave a comment

F-1 Unemployment Period and SEVIS Update

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is reminding F-1 nonimmigrants participating in post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT), and their designated school officials (DSOs), that they must update the employer information in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS), including unemployment data.  Federal regulations require F-1 nonimmigrants to notify their DSO within 10 days of any changes to their personal or employment information. In turn, DSOs must update SEVIS with the alien’s information within 21 days. This reminder helps ensure F-1 nonimmigrants and DSOs properly comply with existing requirements.

F-1 nonimmigrants may update their employer information through the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) Portal, a tool that allows F and M visa holders participating in post‑completion practical training to report accurate and timely information directly to SEVP. DSOs may update the information in SEVIS following the instructions to add, edit, or delete the OPT employer.  If F or M nonimmigrants are unsure of whether they should report information using the portal, or provide the information to their DSO, they should contact their DSO for instructions.

As noted above, F-1 nonimmigrants and DSOs must ensure that information is entered in a timely manner within SEVIS, so that the visa holder’s record is current and reflects actual employment data. SEVIS will count each day without employer information toward the total number of unemployment days allowed. Failure to update employer information in SEVIS to reflect that the F-1 nonimmigrant is employed may result in any or all of the following actions:

  • The F-1 nonimmigrant exceeding unemployment limits and therefore failing to maintain F-1 nonimmigrant status, rendering them removable, unless they are otherwise in a period of authorized stay;
  • SEVP setting an F-1 nonimmigrant’s SEVIS record to “terminated” if they have exceeded unemployment limits;
  • S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) initiating revocation proceedings for an F-1 nonimmigrant’s Employment Authorization Document if they have exceeded unemployment limits; and/or
  • The exceeded unemployment limits negatively affecting the F-1 nonimmigrant’s future benefit requests filed with USCIS.
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F-1 Students; Cap-Gap Extension; Unlawful Presence

October 11, 2018 Leave a comment

F-1 visa-holding students who are currently in cap-gap status are not authorized to work beyond September 30, 2018.

Cap-Gap Explained: The immigration law allows an F-1 student who is the beneficiary of a timely filed H-1B cap-subject petition requesting a change of status to H-1B on Oct. 1, to have his or her F-1 status and any current employment authorization extended through Sept. 30. This is known as “cap-gap”,  i.e. the law provides a way of filling the “gap” between the end of F-1 status and the beginning of H-1B status that might otherwise occur. The “cap-gap” period starts when an F-1 student’s status and work authorization expire, and they are extended through Sept. 30, with Oct. 1 being the requested start date of their H-1B employment, unless otherwise terminated or the H-1B petition is rejected or denied prior to Oct. 1.

What happens on or after October 1:  If an F-1 student availed cap-gap extension to stay and work in the U.S. until September 30 and such F-1 student’s H-1B change of status petition remains pending adjudication as of October 1, 2018 and continues to be so, then:

  • Such F-1 student must cease employment on October 1 (working on or after Oct 1 results in accrual of unlawful presence subjecting the F-1 to potentially be removed from U.S.);
  • Such F-1 student may however remain in the U.S. until the H-1B petition is adjudicated (approved, rejected or denied)

Employers currently employing F-1 students in cap-gap situation should notify such F-1 student-employees of the foregoing situation ideally in writing and remove such employees off the payroll and not allow them to work.  Be sure to clearly explain that the student may remain in U.S. until the H-1B is adjudicated.  The above cap-gap rule does not apply to F-1 students holding valid Optional Practical Training (OPT) work authorization (initial OPT or STEM OPT) which is valid beyond October 1 and it does not apply to F-1 students who are work-authorized pursuant to Curricular Practical Training (CPT).

24-Month STEM OPT Rule

March 12, 2016 Leave a comment

Final rule pertaining to STEM OPT has been published in Federal Register.  As per the rule, beginning May 10, 2016, students will be able to apply for STEM OPT for a period of 24 months.  The 17-month STEM OPT rule will remain in effect until May 9, 2016.

Few Points:

-If a 12-month OPT is expiring before May 10, 2016, students will be eligible to apply for STEM extension requesting no more than 17 months.

-If a 12-month OPT is expiring on or after May 10, 2016, students will be eligible to apply for STEM extension requesting 24 months.

-If a student has 17-month STEM approval, he or she may apply for the remaining 7 months of additional STEM extension.  There are three specific requirements surrounding this:

1) Properly file a Form I-765 on or after May 10, 2016 and on or before August 8, 2016, and within 60 days of the date the DSO enters the recommendation for the 24- month OPT extension into the student’s SEVIS record, with  fees and documents, including a new Form I-20 endorsed on or after May 10, 2016, indicating that the DSO recommends the student for a 24-month OPT extension, a completed and signed Form I-983 Mentoring and Training Plan.
2) Have at least 150 calendar days remaining prior to the end of his or her 17-month OPT extension at the time the Form I-765, is properly filed.
3) Meet all the requirements for the 24-month OPT extension, except the requirement that the student must be in a valid period of standard 12-month post-completion OPT at the time of filing.

More information will be posted as the USCIS releases guidance, instructions, and/or FAQs.

More STEM Degree Programs Added for F-1 OPT 17-Month Extensions

May 14, 2012 Leave a comment

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced that it added  a few more STEM degree programs to its list (STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math).  As of May 11,2012, it expanded the STEM degree programs list by adding such fields as pharmaceutical sciences, econometrics and quantitative economics.  A complete list of STEM designated degree programs may be found at http://www.ice.gov/doclib/sevis/pdf/stem-list.pdf  

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