Hiring Scholars on F-1 Optional Practical Training


What is Optional Practical Training?

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is work authorization available to degree-seeking international students who have been in valid F-1 status for at at least one full academic year and who plan to seek employment in the U.S. in their field of study. OPT is recommended by the international office at the institution at which the student obtained his or her degree, but final approval is granted by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Usually OPT is used after the student completes the degree, and is initially approved for a period of up to one year.

If an employee is currently working on OPT, and the appointment will be extended beyond the dates of the Employment Authorization Document (EAD), what steps should the department and/or scholar take?

Since each case is unique, the department should contact the International Center 6 months prior to the OPT expiration date to discuss the time frame and next steps. The timeframe and process can vary and starting the discussion in advance will allow more options for the scholar and department to consider.

Can OPT be extended?

Some students who have received a U.S. Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degrees in certain STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) degree programs, are eligible for a one-time, 24-month extension of post-completion OPT (for a total eligibility of up to 36 months) if they work for an employer registered with E-Verify. For information about whether a particular employee is eligible for an extension of OPT, the employee should check with the international office at the institution at which the student obtained his or her degree. The International Center can only confirm STEM extension eligibility for employees who graduated from UCI. Employees that graduated from UCI and want to extend their OPT, must follow current IC process.

What is E-Verify?

E-Verify is an Internet based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)  that allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees.

Is UCI registered with E-Verify?

UCI is registered with the  E-Verify program. If you have further questions about the E-Verify program at UCI, you may contact the following:

  • For UCI Staff Appointments, please contact Steve Johnson at (949) 824-7343.
  • For Academic Appointments, please contact Ilona Pak at (949) 824-4072.



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