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Employment for International Students

Working inside the U.S. is severely restricted by U.S. immigration regulations. Working off-campus without appropriate authorization, or on-campus more than 20 hours per week during the semester, is a violation of F and J student immigration status. There are different types of work authorization, depending on what you wish to do and your academic degree program. Please contact the any OISS with questions.

F-1 Curricular Practical Training

Curricular Practical Training (CPT) permits an F-1 student to accept off-campus employment that is an integral part of your degree program. To qualify for CPT, your program must have an internship elective or fieldwork/practicum requirement as part of the curriculum. Because every program has different academic requirements, not every student will be able to take advantage of CPT. If your program does not have an internship option or fieldwork requirement, you will not be eligible for CPT. Please read the instructions on Optional Practical Training (OPT) instead.

Students must:

  • Be in valid F-1 status
  • Have been a full-time student in F-1 status in the U.S., for at least one full academic year (2 semesters or 9 months)*
  • Have a job offer directly related to your major
  • Be making satisfactory progress toward degree completion and be in good academic standing
  • *The one year wait time is waived for students in graduate programs that require all enrolled students to obtain work experience in the first academic year.

CPT is typically authorized on a part-time basis (up to 20 hours per week) during the school year and on a full-time basis during vacation periods. Exceptions may apply for graduate students, depending on the structure of the individual student's curriculum.You may not begin CPT employment until you receive authorization from the OISS on your I-20. Retroactive authorization is not possible.

  1. Students who exceed 12 months of full-time CPT forfeit all Optional Practical Training (OPT).
  2. Part-time CPT authorization does not impact a student's OPT eligibility.

  • CPT authorization is job specific, therefore, you need a job offer to apply for CPT.
    • Visit the Career Center to get information about available internships.
    • Graduate students must obtain placement permission from their program advisor or dean.
  • Complete the CPT application in the YU International Student Portal
  • Your academic advisor, Dean or department chair must support your request for CPT. Once you are in the application you will see an option to send this person a recommendation email.  The recommendation will confirm:
    • That you are a full-time student and your anticipated program completion date.
    • The internship course name, course number, and the number of credits awarded for the course.
    • That the course credit will count toward fulfilling your degree requirements.
    • The beginning and ending dates of your employment (month/date/year), the number of hours per week, the company name, complete address, and your job title.
    • If your payroll will be processed by an outside organization (not your employer), provide a letter of explanation from your employer specifying the name and address of the payroll company.
  • The CPT application must be submitted at least 5 business days prior to the anticipated start date of your employment.
  • If eligible, the OISS will authorize you to engage in CPT by issuing an updated I-20. You may not begin employment until you have received the new I-20. Please check the I-20 to confirm its accuracy, and then sign at the bottom of page one. You may only work for the employer authorized on the I-20.
  • If needed, take the CPT I-20 and passport to apply for a social security number.
  • The process of obtaining permission to participate in an internship can take up to two weeks, so students must plan accordingly. If you have any questions please contact the OISS.

Cardozo Law Students who have completed one academic year of full-time study are eligible to apply for CPT.

  • Summer internships (paid and unpaid) require registration for the Legal Practice Course.  Contact Cardozo Student Services
  • Summer Stipend Program requires registration for the Legal Practice Course. Contact Cardozo Student Services
  • Field Clinics and Externships: CPT can be authorized based on registration for either class. Proof of registration is sufficient.

Only true volunteering, as defined by the U.S. Department of Labor in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require work authorization.  According to FLSA, volunteering refers to donating time with an organization whose primary purpose is charitable or humanitarian in nature, without promise, expectation, or receipt of compensation for services rendered.

  • The organization you are volunteering at must be a nonprofit organization.
  • As a volunteer, the activities you engage in must be activities normally completed by volunteers and not paid employees (Examples of volunteer activities include serving food at a soup kitchen, walking dogs at an animal shelter, or participating in a beach cleanup day).
  • You do not receive any compensation or payment for your volunteering services, and no expectation exists that you will get a job at this organization at the end of your volunteering. The company cannot bring you on as a so-called volunteer and then decide you are an employee and pay you for work you’ve already done.
  • Many nonprofits have organized volunteer programs.  Participating in such a program is likely to be considered volunteering and not unpaid work.
  • If you volunteer at an organization, be sure to get documentation confirming that you participated in their volunteer program and received no compensation for your volunteering.

Unpaid internship is different from “volunteer” work.  Internships may be paid or unpaid and are designed to provide interns with work experience related to their major field of studies.  The U.S. Department of Labor has specific regulations governing unpaid internships.  When considering doing an unpaid internship, see if it meets these 6 criteria (often refer as “a six-factor test”):

  1. The internship, even though it includes actual operation of the facilities of the employer, is similar to training which would be given in an educational environment;
  2. The internship experience is for the benefit of the intern;
  3. The intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff;
  4. The employer that provides the training derives no immediate advantage from the activities of the intern; and on occasion its operations may actually be impeded;
  5. The intern is not necessarily entitled to a job at the conclusion of the internship; and
  6. The employer and the intern understand that the intern is not entitled to wages for the time spent in the internship.

If you will provide the employer with beneficial service, you are no longer considered an unpaid internship but an employee.  You must obtain work authorization.

Also, unpaid internships should not be used by your employer as a trial period before you receive work authorization.  For example, if you start working while waiting for your work authorization to be approved, you would be considered an “employee” instead of an unpaid intern or volunteer under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).  This is because both you and your employer have the expectation that you will be hired on a permanent basis as soon as you obtain work authorization.  Under no conditions can you begin working – not even as a volunteer or unpaid intern – before you receive your work authorization.

  • You are not required to obtain work authorization to engage in bona fide (legitimate) volunteer activities or unpaid internships which passed the 6-factor test defined by Department of Labor.
  • If you are considering an unpaid internship, make sure you do your homework. Ask yourself whether the unpaid internship passed the 6-factor test.  Do not accept unpaid internship offers that have unreasonable expectations for your time and amount of work.
  • Unpaid also means uncompensated. For example, if the organization compensates you with stock options, gift cards, travel vouchers, or movie passes in lieu of payment, that is no longer an unpaid internship or volunteering.  You must obtain work authorization.
  • If you are engaging in bona fide volunteer activity, it is advisable to get documentation from the organization explaining the nature of your work. You should keep this with your other immigration records (such as your previous I-20s).
  • Finally, engaging in any employment or internship, whether paid or unpaid, for academic credit or not, without proper work authorization is a serious violation of your F-1 status.

F-1 Optional Practical Training

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary off-campus employment authorization, granted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to F-1 students for the purpose of gaining practical experience in their major. Eligible students may apply for up to 12 months of OPT per academic level. Eligible students may apply for OPT both before and after graduation. OPT authorization typically takes 3 months to be approved, so it is important to plan ahead.

You must:

  • Have completed at least one academic year (2 semesters or 9 months) of full-time study by the time your OPT will begin
  • Be in valid F-1 status at the time of the application
  • Be in good academic standing and making normal progress toward finishing your degree
  • Not have already been approved for 12 months of OPT at your current degree level
  • Not have been authorized for 12 months of full-time Curricular Practical Training (CPT) at your current degree level.  Full-time is defined as 20+ hours per week. Part-time CPT does not impact OPT eligibility, unless you are authorized for multiple part-time positions at the same time, when combined, exceed 20 hours per week.
  • Students do not need a job to apply for OPT.

  • Pre-Completion OPT: Before you finish your studies
  • Post-Completion OPT: After you finish your studies
  • 24 Month STEM OPT Extension: Eligible students may apply for a 24 month extension of their OPT.  This is commonly referred to a "STEM extension"
  • Cap-Gap OPT Extension: For students whose prospective employers filed a qualifying H-1B-cap subject petition.

OPT authorization typically takes 3 months to be approved, so it is important to plan ahead. It is not possible to expedite an OPT application.

  • Pre-Completion OPT: 3 to 4 months before you will need work authorization
  • Post-Completion OPT: 90 days before program completion* through 60 days after program completion. Students who are graduating should apply for post-OPT as early as possible, unless you plan to begin a new degree program the following semester or plan to leave the U.S.
  • 24 Month STEM OPT Extension: USCIS must receive your extension application within the 90 period before your the post-OPT end date.
  • CAP Gap OPT Extension: this will be automatically authorized by USCIS, if your H1B application is selected for adjudication.

*Program completion is defined as when you have finished all degree requirements. This may be different from your graduation date. Spring graduates can use May 31; fall and summer graduates: varies by academic program.

Plan on three to four months:

  • 2 weeks to gather the documentation and obtain academic signatures
  • 2 weeks to process the application at the OISS
  • 3 months (estimate) to obtain approval from the government

  1. Complete the OPT application in the YU international student portal.
  2. The OISS will recommend OPT in SEVIS and provide you with a new I-20. The OISS will contact you to come to the office to pick up the application once it is complete. Please allow 5 business days.
  3. Student mails the application to USCIS. The application must be received by USCIS with 30 days of the DSO recommendation on page two of the I-20. Once your OPT is recommended, come to the OISS and immediately mail your application.  If USCIS doesn't receive you application within 30 days, your OPT will be DENIED!
  4. The majority of OPT applications are approved without any delays.  However, sometimes, USCIS requests additional information.  You must provide this information by a deadline stated in the request.  Watch you mail! 
  5. Once approved, USCIS will mail you an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). You will also receive a paper approval notice.
  6. If you applied for a U.S. Social Security Number (SSN) on Form I-765, a number will be issued and a SSN card will be mailed within 10 days of EAD approval.
  7. When you reach the start date on your EAD, SEVIS will send you a link to set-up your SEVIS student portal. In your portal you will be able to update employment and address information. Contact the OISS directly if you want to change the email address in SEVIS.
  8. Send a copy of your EAD to the OISS for your file.
  9. Set up your SEVIS student portal.  SEVIS will send you an email notification to initiate the process once you reach your OPT start date.

Once OPT is approved and the start date is reached, students are limited to 90 days of accrued unemployment. Students, who go more than 90 days without reporting post-OPT employment information, are at risk of automatic SEVIS termination of F-1 status, I-20 and employment authorization. Report OPT employment via your student SEVIS portal.

Travel before program completion is the same as usual.

Travel after graduation: students must have:

  • An unexpired passport valid for at least six months beyond the end date on the EAD 
  • A valid F-1 visa (Canadian citizens are exempt)
  • I-20 endorsed for travel within the past six months
  • The employment authorization document (EAD) and USCIS approval notice
  • Students are not advised to leave the U.S. until OPT is approved. If your OPT is approved while you are outside of the U.S., the employment authorization documentation is required for reentry.
  • Students with an expired F-1 visa who leave the U.S., must apply for a new F-1 visa in order to return to the U.S. while on OPT.

OPT employment authorization automatically ends when a student transfers to another school or begins study at another educational level at the same school.

Students who decide to depart the U.S. early with the intention of forfeiting the remainder of their OPT, must report this to the OISS.

Students who are approved for another immigration status or U.S. Permanent Residence (green card), must report this to the OISS so we can close your SEVIS record.

  • Change in legal name
  • Change in mailing or residential address (You can change your address yourself in the student SEVIS portal.)
  • Change in employer or stopping work. (You can change your employment yourself in the student SEVIS portal.) If you need help contact oiss@yu.edu
  • Decision to depart the U.S. with the intention of forfeiting the remainder of your OPT
  • Return to school full time, or
  • Change of immigration status.

H-1B Cap Gap Extension of OPT

The H-1B work visa is an employer sponsored application submitted by the employer on your behalf. To begin the process of applying for H-1B and becoming eligible for an extension of OPT, you must first speak to your employer.

The H-1B Cap is the congressionally-mandated limit on the number of individuals who may be granted initial H-1B status during each fiscal year. The cap is currently set at 65,000 plus 20,000 more for those with higher degrees (U.S. Master's degree or higher). Employees who will work at institutions of higher education or a related or affiliated nonprofit entities, or at nonprofit research organizations or governmental research organizations, are exempt from the fiscal year cap.

The H-1B Fiscal Year for Cap-Subject employers runs from October 1st to September 30th each year. An F-1 student graduating in the Spring Semester with a standard 12 months of post-completion OPT will find that their work authorization will expire in June or July one year after graduation, leaving a gap in work authorization until October 1st when H-1B status can begin.

The Cap Gap Extension of OPT through September 30th of the current year is granted if an H-1B petition has been filed by a Cap-Subject employer before the current period of OPT expires. The first day to file for H-1B is April 1st.

To be eligible for the Cap Gap Extension, students who have less than 12 months of post-completion OPT remaining after using pre-completion OPT prior to graduation, will need to be sure that their post-completion OPT is still valid on April 1st. We recommend counting backwards from April 1st to determine your OPT start date.

If your OPT expires before April 1st and you are in a valid 60-day grace period on the first day to file an H-1B petition, your legal status to remain in the U.S. is extended to October 1st, but you are not eligible to work for this gap period.

While on Cap Gap  

Work authorization on Cap Gap is valid until September 30th unless the H-1B petition is denied, withdrawn or revoked.

Evidence of work authorization for the extended period is reflected on a new I-20. There will be no new EAD card issued for Cap Gap Extension. The OISS will be able to provide you with an updated I-20 if you notify us and provide evidence of a timely filed H-1B petition (receipt or approval notice) by e-mailing the OISS with the subject “Cap Gap I-20.”

Travel is NOT advised during the Cap Gap period.

Thanks to Yale University Office of International Students and Scholars for assistance with H-1B Cap Gap information.

J-1 Student Academic Training

Academic training is the name the J-1 Exchange Visitor Program uses for employment training or practical experience related to your field of study. It is fairly flexible and offers a variety of paid and unpaid, full-time or part-time, training or employment situations, with one or more employers, to supplement your academic program in the U.S.

Academic training is available at any stage of your academic program, either while you are enrolled in school or after you complete your academic program, as long as you maintain valid J-1 status, follow the appropriate application and approval procedures, and stay within the stated time limits.

If you are considering academic training, your authorization must be processed before your official academic program completion date. In addition, the academic training/employment must begin within the first 30 days after the official academic program completion date.

Official Regulation: “A student may participate in academic training programs during his or her studies, without wages or other remuneration, with the approval of the academic dean or advisor and the Exchange Visitor Program Responsible Officer (RO or ARO). A student may be authorized to participate in academic training for wages or other remuneration during his or her studies or commencing not later than thirty (30) days after completion of his or her studies.” (Source: 22CFR. § 62.23(f)(2)).

The ARO referred to in this regulation is the International Student and Scholar Advisor in the Yeshiva University Office of International Student and Scholar Services (OISS)

You are eligible for academic training if all of the following criteria are met:

  • You are in the U.S. primarily for study in a full-time academic program.
  • You are in good academic standing at your educational institution.
  • You must apply before the completion of your academic program.
  • You are participating in academic training that is directly related to your major field of study.
  • Your employment/training must take place with the specific employer or employers who are noted on the academic training authorization letter.
  • You must receive an authorization letter, in advance, for the duration and type of academic training, from a responsible officer or alternate responsible officer at OISS. This authorization must be processed before the end date on the Form DS-2019 or before the official date of the degree program completion, whichever comes first.
  • You have a valid Form DS-2019 that enables you to remain in the U.S. in J-1 student status. You must apply for extensions as needed and in a timely manner.

  • Students who complete a degree program are permitted an overall academic training period of 18 months. This includes all academic training, whether before or after completion of studies. Source: 22CFR § 514.23(f)(4)
  • The total employment/training period may not exceed the amount of time spent in full course of study. For example, if you are a Masters student who completed a program in 12 months, you are only eligible for 12 months of academic training.
  • Completing more than one degree program at the same time does not increase your academic training period.
  • Any pre-completion academic training period is deducted from your total allowable academic training period when calculating post-completion academic training.

Exceptions to the 18-Month Period Limit

There are exceptions to the 18-month time limit, if you meet one or more of the following criteria:

  • Your degree program requires a training period longer than 18 months.
  • After completing a Ph.D. program, you are eligible for an additional 18 months of post-doctoral training, for a total of 36 months of academic training.
  • If you are enrolled in a non-degree program, your stay in the U.S., including academic training, is limited to a total of 24 months. The term of your academic training would then be the time period remaining after you complete your non-degree program.
  • A period spent in part-time employment under academic training will count as full-time academic training and will be deducted from the 18 or 36 months of post completion academic training.

To apply for academic training through the OISS you must be sponsored by Yeshiva University. If your sponsor is the Institute for International Education (IIE) or another agency, you must contact your sponsor to process your academic training. To determine your sponsorship, please check section #2 of your Form DS-2019.

  1. Have a formal employment offer, written on official stationery (letterhead) from your potential academic training employer. The job offer letter from your employer must include:
    • Your job title
    • A brief description of the goals and objectives of your training or employment
    • Dates and location of training or employment
    • Number of hours per week, salary and benefits
    • Name and title of your training supervisor
       
  2. Obtain a letter of recommendation from your academic advisor or dean recommending this academic training. You will need to provide him/her with a copy of your employment offer letter. The recommendation letter from your academic advisor or dean must include:
    • The goals and objectives of the specific training program
    • A description of the training program, including all the information listed above
    • How the training relates to your major field of study
    • Why this employment is an integral or critical part of your academic program
    • The length of time necessary to complete the goals and objectives of the academic training
       
  3. Complete an Academic Training Request Form for J-1 Students
     
  4. Bring (in person) the complete application to OISS at least 20 working days before your official degree completion date or before the end date on your Form DS-2019, whichever is earlier. If you fail to submit your application before your program completion, or before the end date on your Form DS-2019, whichever is earlier, you will not be eligible for academic training. Submit all the following documents to the OISS:
    • Completed Academic Training Request Form for J-1 Students
    • Employment offer letter
    • Letter of recommendation from your academic advisor or dean
    • Copies of your current and all previous Forms DS-2019
    • A copy of your passport biographical data page and visa page
    • A copy of paper or print-out of electronic Form I-94 (please click on the link for instructions)
    • Proof of funding to show how you will support yourself during your academic training (if your academic training is unpaid)
       
  5. If the OISS approves your application, we will issue a new Form DS-2019 authorizing the academic training for the duration you requested. Your employer will be listed on the academic training authorization letter accompanying the new Form DS-2019. The end date on this form is now the end date of your J-1 program. You must apply for an extension of your academic training in a timely manner if you are eligible to and wish to extend your J-1 program beyond that date.

If you intend to leave the U.S. after you complete your program of study you must obtain academic training authorization from Yeshiva University before you leave. If you do not receive this authorization, you may lose your eligibility for academic training.

On-Campus Employment

Students in F-1 and J-1 status are allowed to work on-campus part-time while classes are in session and full-time during the winter and summer breaks. F-1 Students can work on-campus right away. There is no waiting period to work on campus, as with other types of F-1 employment authorization.

F-1 students, who meet all of the criteria below, do NOT need to obtain specific work authorization from the OISS to work on-campus. Speak to your hiring supervisor to complete the necessary forms for Human Resources. J-1 students do need special authorization from the OISS to work on-campus.

You can work a maximum of 20 hours per week during fall or spring semesters. During the summer and winter break periods, you can work over 20 hours per week.

The employment may take place at any YU office or department. On-campus employment also includes YU graduate assistantships and teaching assistantships.

F-1 Student Eligibility requirements:  

  • Be a full-time student in a YU degree program
  • Have a valid, unexpired YU I-20
  • Have a valid, unexpired passport
  • Have an I-94 record indicating that you are in F-1 status

Once you find a job, in order to get paid you need to apply for a U.S. social security number, if you do not already have one. 

J-1 Student Eligibility requirements:

  • Full-time student admitted to a YU degree program
  • Have a valid, unexpired DS-2019 with YU listed as the program sponsor
  • Have a valid, unexpired passport
  • Have an I-94 record indicating that you are in J-1 status
  • Have a letter from your on-campus supervisor stating the following:
      1. your supervisor's name, title and department address
      2. the number of hours you will work per week
      3. the start and end dates of your employment
      4. the type of employment (for example, interpreter or teaching assistant)

ON-CAMPUS JOBS are posted on the YU Human Resources Page and on flyers posted around campus.  F-1 and J-1 students are not eligible for "work study" positions. Work study is part of a U.S. government financial aid award. 

Before beginning work on-campus, submit all of the above items to the OISS for review. Once the work is authorized and the OISS gives you an employment letter, you may begin to work.

If you change jobs, you must submit an updated employment offer letter to the OISS.

Once you find a job, in order to get paid you need to apply for a U.S. social security number, if you do not already have one.

24 Month STEM OPT Extension

F-1 students who completed a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in select government-designated science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) fields and are currently working with post-completion OPT may apply for the STEM extension of 24 months of additional employment if they have a job or job offer from an E-Verify employer and meet all the required criteria.

If you earned a previous STEM degree from an accredited US institution, you may be eligible for the STEM OPT extension. See the Department of Homeland Security’s STEM Designated Degree Program List. You can find the CIP code for your previous degree on page 1 of the current format I-20 or at the top of page 3 of the old format I-20. If you have questions about your eligibility, contact us.

The DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List is organized based on CIP Codes. F-1 Students can find their current program CIP code in the Program Information section on page 1 of the Form I-20.

All students interested in applying for STEM OPT are encouraged to visits the Study in the States STEM OPT HUB for information and instructions, before contacting the OISS to ask how to apply.  All the information is there and the website provides a wonderful overview.

These are the basic steps of a STEM OPT application:

  • Prepare the I-983 with the employer
  • Send STEM OPT materials to OISS (obtain new I-20 recommending STEM OPT)
  • Mail STEM OPT application to USCIS
  • USCIS receives application

F-1 students who:

  • have successfully completed a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in a STEM field based on the government classification. You can find the CIP code for your previous degree on page 1 of the current format I-20 or at the top of page 3 of the old format I-20. If you have questions about your eligibility, contact us.
  • are currently authorized for post-completion OPT and have reported your current local US address and primary employer on the report OPT form.
  • have a job with a company enrolled in the government's E-Verify program. Find out if your employer is E-Verify enrolled.
  • have paid employment that is directly related to the STEM degree and is at least 20 hours per week.
  • have not exceeded 90 days of unemployment on your current post-completion OPT.
  • have not previously used STEM OPT more than once. Please note that you cannot have more than one STEM OPT extension based on the same degree.
  • file an application with the OISS and to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services before the current OPT period ends.

The earliest you can apply is 90 days prior to the end date of your current OPT. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services must receive your STEM OPT application before your current OPT expires.

If you applied for STEM OPT before your current OPT expires, you can continue to work while your STEM OPT application is pending, until a final decision is made on your application or it has been pending 180 days with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, whichever comes first.

Read all the steps in this process carefully.
Make sure you have reported your current OPT employer and local address information in your SEVIS student.  The OISS can also report OPT employment for you: OPT reporting form. Then gather and prepare all the items you need for your STEM OPT application. Each document you print for your application should be single sided.

1. Gather and prepare these items for your STEM OPT application:

  • A completed Form I-983.  Form I-983: Only pages 1-4 need to be completed when you apply. This form must be completed and signed by you and your employer. Please note that electronic signatures are not accepted; you and your employer must sign the form in ink. If you have multiple employers, you must work a minimum of 20 hours per week at each employer and submit a Form I-983 for each employer. Be sure to review our Tips for Completing Form I-983. If your employer has questions about the STEM extension or Form I-983, please direct them to the US government’s STEM OPT Hub. 
  • Copy of diploma or transcript, if diploma does not mention your actual major
  • A completed Form G-1145.
  • Check or money order for $410, payable to “Department of Homeland Security”
  • 2 color, U.S. passport-style, photographs U.S. Government Photo Requirements
  • A completed Form I-765; It’s best to type your information into the form, print it, then sign it in BLACK ink.

2. Submit a Request to OISS

Include:

Request for 24 Month STEM OPT Extension I-20
Completed and signed (in ink) Form I-983
most recent I-94

NOTE: If your application is based on a previous STEM degree, you will need to provide copies of I-20s and a transcript from that degree.

The OISS will review your application and issue your new I-20. This can take up to 5 business days to process. We will email you when your new I-20 is ready.

3. Receive your New I-20

Pick up your new I-20 at the OISS once you receive an email telling you that your new I-20 is ready. If you requested that the OISS I-20 mail your new I-20, remember to purchase a shipping label (instructions are on the Request a STEM OPT Recommendation I-20 form). You will receive further instructions with your new I-20.

4. Review and Sign your Application Materials

Once you receive an updated I-20 with the STEM OPT recommendation, make sure to sign your new I-20, photocopy it, and include the photocopy of your new I-20 with the rest of your STEM OPT application materials (# 1). Make any suggested changes to your I-765 application as recommended by the OISS advisor.

  • Incomplete or incorrect applications can cause serious delays so go over the checklist one more time and make sure you’ve included everything.
  • Make sure to include the original check / money order, original photos and original I-765. Everything else should be a copy.
  • Keep a photocopy of your complete OPT application for your records.

5. Send Your Application to the US Government

Mail your application via express or certified mail, with a return receipt or tracking number. USCIS must receive you application within 60 days of the date your I-20 was issued AND before your current OPT expires.

Students living  in NY, NJ, and CT will send their application to the address below. Those with addresses in other states should visit the USCIS website (scroll all the way to the bottom) to learn where to mail their applications.

By Courier Service (FedEx, DHL, UPS):
USCIS, Attn:  AOS
2501 S. State Hwy. 121
Business Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

By U.S. Postal Service:
USCIS
PO Box 660867
Dallas, TX 75266

6. USCIS Processing  

Checking the Progress of Your OPT Application: USCIS will send you a receipt notice (Form I-797). This is proof that USCIS has received your application. Make sure to check the spelling of your name. If you notice an error, contact OISS. The receipt will also have your case number printed on it, with which you can track the progress of your application on the USCIS website.

Request for Additional Documentation: Occasionally, a student will receive a Request for Further Evidence (RFE) from USCIS. These requests are typically because the application is missing a document or new photographs are required. If you receive such a request reply immediately to USCIS with the requested documents, including the original RFE placed on top. If you do not understand the USCIS request, contact the OISS. Make copies of all documentation and send the reply by courier mail.

EAD Delays: If you do not receive your EAD card within 75 days from the date immigration received your application, contact OISS and we can check the status of your application. If you have applied to USCIS for your 24-month STEM extension and you have not received your new EAD by the end of your Post-Completion OPT, you may continue to work for up to 180 days after the end of your Post-Completion OPT. You should receive your new EAD before you reach 180 days.

If you enroll in a new academic program in the U.S. in the future and earn another qualifying STEM degree at a higher educational level, you may be eligible for a second period of 24-month STEM OPT (i.e. two 24 month STEM OPT extensions may be permitted).

Example: If you receive a 24-month STEM OPT extension based on your bachelor’s degree in computer science, and you later earn a master’s degree in computer science or another STEM eligible field, you may apply for Post-Completion OPT and then the additional 24-month STEM OPT extension based on your master’s degree.

Eligibility Based on a Previously Obtained STEM Degree:

If you are currently in a degree field (or on Post-Completion OPT from that degree) that is not identified as STEM eligible, but have previously earned a STEM eligible degree from an accredited U.S. higher education institution, you may be eligible to apply for a STEM OPT extension under certain conditions:

  • You must have received both degrees from currently accredited and SEVP-certified institutions
  • Your previous degree can not have been conferred more than 10 years ago at the time of application
  • Your previous degree is assigned a STEM eligible code found on the STEM Designated Degree Program List at the time of application
  • You haven't already received a STEM OPT extension based on this previous degree
  • Your practical training opportunity is directly related to the previously obtained STEM degree
  • Your employer meets the criteria listed above
     Example: If you are currently participating in Post-Completion OPT based on a master’s degree in business and management, 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 in mathematics as long as meets the other criteria above.

Employment Limitations

  • Employment must be paid.
  • Employment must be a minimum of 20 hours per week.
  • Employment must be directly related to your course of study.
  • Limitation on Unemployment for the STEM OPT Extension: Students approved for the 24-month STEM OPT extension may not accrue more than a total of 150 days of unemployment throughout their entire 36 months on OPT. Time spent outside the U.S., if not employed by a U.S. employer, is counted towards the 150-day period of unemployment. To count as “employed” a student should be able to provide evidence, acquired from the student’s employer, to verify that he or she worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of reported employment.
  • Unemployment Caution: SEVIS records will automatically terminate for students who have no employment reported for 150 days. Be sure that you have made alternate plans and communicated them to OISS before your record is terminated. If you have any concerns, you can always contact your OISS adviser.

Reporting Requirements

Reporting Chart

Students must submit to OISS self-evaluations via the I-983 during the first 12 months on the STEM OPT extension and at the completion of the 24-month extension period or at the conclusion of employment, whichever comes first. Evaluations should be submitted within 10 days of the required date.

Students and employers must report to OISS a change in any of the following via the I-983:

  • Employer name and address
  • Decrease in student's compensation
  • Reduction in hours worked to less than 20 hours a week
  • Employer's EIN
  • Termination of employment

Students are required to report to OISS within 10 days, any change in the following:

  • Legal Name
  • Residential address
  • Employer name and address
  • Change in status of current employment, including loss of employment, change of status to H-1B, transfer to another F-1 program, or change employers. If you change employers, you and your employer will need to complete a new I-983 and submit to OISS.

Students are required to report to OISS every 6 months - regardless if there is a change or not - the following:

  • Legal name
  • Residential address
  • Employer name and address
  • Status of current employment

Keep Records of your Employment

Keep records of your employment history for your personal file, to present as evidence of maintaining lawful status should you apply for future immigration benefits. Examples of records to keep:

  • Offer letters
  • Contracts
  • Payroll stubs
  • Letters describing volunteer activity and hours

When a STEM OPT student changes employers, the new employer must be enrolled in E-Verify before the student begins to work for pay. The student must also submit a new Form I-983 to their DSO within 10 days of starting the new practical training opportunity.

When a student begins a new practical training opportunity with a new employer less than 10 days after leaving the student’s prior employer, the student may fulfill all reporting obligations (loss of employment and new training plan) by submitting a new Form I-983.

In cases where the period of time between employers is longer than 10 days, the student must first report the loss of employment to the DSO and later submit a new Form I-983.

Change of Employer while the STEM OPT application is pending: contact the OISS.

While on STEM OPT, you are required to show your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) along with your other immigration documents (see list below) in order to re-enter the U.S. in F-1 status. In many cases, students will also need to apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate for a new F-1 visa before returning to the U.S.

If you need to leave the U.S. before you receive your EAD, speak with an OISS adviser. If your employer has filed for H-1B on your behalf, check with your employer about any travel plans as leaving the U.S. while an H-1B application is pending may jeopardize your application.

Required documents to re-enter the U.S. while on STEM OPT Extension:

  • Valid I-20 - Page two should list your employer's information and be signed by an OISS adviser within the last six months.
  • Valid F-1 Visa - If your F-1 visa is expired, you must apply for a new one at a U.S. embassy or consulate prior to you return. (Note: Canadian citizens do not need a visa.)
  • Valid Passport - The expiration date should be at least six months into the future at any given time.
  • Valid Employment Authorization Document (EAD)
  • Evidence of a job offer or resumption of employment. If you are returning to the U.S without evidence of a job offer, you may be questioned at the port of entry.

Social Security Numbers (SSN's)

A Social Security number (SSN) is used to report your wages to the U.S. government and to determine eligibility for Social Security benefits. Social Security numbers can be assigned to foreign workers who are authorized to work in the United States.

Due to COVID-19 the Social Security Administration Office Is Not Accepting Walk-In Applications.
You must Call for an Appointment!

Make an appointment to apply for a Social Security Number

Temporary instructions for international students who need a social security number for an ON-CAMPUS job. (10/30/2020)

Applicants must have an appointment.  Call the number on the form (see above link) and tell them that you are an international student, with a job, who needs to apply for a social security number in order to be paid.

The application documentation is listed below.  VERY IMPORTANT: the I-20 (F) or DS-2019 (J) must be an original form with original signatures.  Likewise, the Social Security Verification Letter (see below) must have original signatures from both your supervisor AND a Designated School Official (DSO) (F) or Responsible Officer (RO) (J). The Social Security Administration will not accept scan signatures.

Signature expiration: The signatures on the Social Security Verification Letter can be no older than 2 weeks at the time of the appointment.  In addition, the job must start no later than 30 days after the Social Security Verification Letter is signed.

Recommended steps:

  • Read the instructions on this page
  • Schedule the application appointment (see above link)
  • Contact oiss@yu.edu to request signatures and tell us your appointment date. We will contact you to coordinate the paperwork.
  • The OISS continues to work virtually, however we will have people going to the Beren and Wilf campuses to assist with these applications as needed.

Eligibility for a Social Security number and card varies, depending on your situation. If you need a Social Security number but are not eligible for one (based on the eligibility requirements listed below), you may apply for an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

Requirements for Visas
Visa Type Eligibility Requirements
F-1 students Eligible only if you have evidence of authorization for the following situations:
  • On-campus employment
  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT) with CPT endorsement on page 2 of your I-20 form
  • Optional Practical Training (OPT) with an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) card
  • NOTE: F-1 students who were issued EAD cards for other reasons (for example, employment authorization due to severe economic hardship) are also eligible to apply for a Social Security number
F-2 dependents Not eligible to receive a Social Security number.
J-1 students and scholars Automatically eligible to apply for a Social Security number.
J-2 dependents Eligible to apply for a Social Security number only if you are a J-2 dependent who has applied for work authorization and received your EAD.

Students with On-campus Employment

  1. Obtain job offer from a YU department.
  2. Print out the on-campus social security verification form.
  3. Student completes the top portion of the form.
  4. Immediate job supervisor completes the middle section in full.
  5. Once you have your supervisor’s signature, bring the following to the OISS:
    • On-campus social security verification form signed by your supervisor.
    • Valid YU I-20
    • Form I-94 Lawful Record of Admission to U.S.
    • A Designated School Official (DSO) will sign the verification form.
  6.  Complete the Form SS-5, available on line at http://www.ssa.gov/ssnumber/ 
  7. Go to Social Security in person to apply for a card. You Bring:
    • Completed SS-5
    • On-campus social security verification form
    • Passport
    • I-20
    • Form I-94 Lawful Record of Admission to U.S.
    • Apply within 14 of the signature, but no earlier than 30 days before your job start date.
  8. It may take 10 to 14 days for card to arrive in the mail.
  9. Student takes original card to Human Resources to be paid by YU.
  10. The Social Security Card is not work authorization. Students cannot work off-campus even if they obtain a social security number. There will be a notation on the card that says: NOT AUTHORIZED FOR WORK WITHOUT DHS PERMISSION.

Students with Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

  1. Obtain CPT authorization from the OISS.
  2. Take new SEVIS Form I-20, passport, and I-94 to Social Security Administration to apply for a Social Security Card
  3. It may take 10 to 14 days to get the card in the mail
  4. Take card to internship employer
  5. The Social Security Card is not work authorization. Students cannot work without permission from the Department of Homeland Security. Working illegally is a serious and deportable offense.

Students with Optional Practical Training (OPT)

  1. Starting in fall 2017, students have the option to apply for a social security number on Form I-765 as part of the OPT application.
  2. Students can still apply for a SSN in person once OPT is authorized.  Bring your OPT I-20, work authorization documents, passport, and I-94 to a SSA office to apply for a number.

Social Security Administration Card Center locations

  • Bronx: 820 Concourse Village West, Bronx Card Center 2nd Floor, Bronx, NY 10451
  • Brooklyn: 154 Pierrepont St, 6th Floor Brooklyn, NY 11201
  • Queens: 155-10 Jamaica Ave, Jamaica, NY 11432
  • Manhattan: 123 William Street, 3rd floor, NY, NY 10038

Additional Social Security Administration card processing centers, hours, and contact information: https://secure.ssa.gov/ICON/main.jsp

If you have U.S. source income, but are not eligible for a social security number (based on the table above), you will need an ITIN in order to fill out Internal Revenue Service (IRS) forms and YU Payroll forms. The most common example is a student who receives a non-service stipend that includes money for living expenses. ("Non-service stipend" means that no work is required.)

If you apply for an ITIN now and later become eligible for an SSN, this will not cause any problems. You can apply for and use your SSN at that time.

J-1 students and scholars are eligible for Social Security numbers and should not apply for ITINs.

The IRS has special rules for F and J students to apply for an ITIN through the international office. Please contact the OISS for assistance.

To apply for an ITIN, begin by completing IRS Form W-7 and follow the instructions.

Unlike an SSN application which is made in person and for which an application receipt is issued on the spot, a W-7 ITIN application is mailed to IRS.

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