Student Visas – Part 2/2
Can a Student Visa Holder Work While in the U.S.?
- Employment for an F-1 Visa Holder
F-1 student visa holders are permitted to work both on and off-campus, so long as they have successfully applied for Optional Practical Training (OPT). An F-1 Visa holder may not work off-campus during their first academic year. After their first academic year, and F-1 holder may accept off-campus employment via, subject to approval by the institution and any restrictions.
- Employment for an M-1 Visa Holder
M-1 student visa holders are not permitted to work on-campus and are only eligible for OPT after they have completed their studies. M-1 Visa students are permitted a relatively short amount of time for OPT: one month for every four months of study in their program.
What is OPT?
Optional Practical Training (OPT), allows a student visa holder to accept employment which provides them with practical training in their field of expertise. Whether or not the student is able to accept employment during their studies depends on the type of student visa they hold.
- OPT for F-1 Visa Students
An F-1 Visa holder may apply for Pre-Completion OPT, which permits them to work 20 hours or less per week while school is in session and full-time when school is not in session. F-1 Visa holders may also apply for Post-Completion OPT, which allows them to work part-time or full-time after they have completed their program.
It is important to note that if an F-1 Visa holder decides to apply for OPT, they are permitted a total of 12 months OPT. So, for example, if an F-1 student works 5-months of Pre-Completion OPT while in school, they are only eligible for 7-months of Post-Completion OPT after they have completed their program.
- STEM OPT Extension for F-1 Students
If an F-1 student visa holder has earned their degree and has completed their 12-months of available OPT, they may qualify for an extension of 24-months. This 24-month extension is available to students who have earned a degree in certain Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). This extension may be applied for if the student is:
- An F-1 student who received a STEM degree included on the STEM Designated Degree Program List (PDF);
- Employed by an employer who is enrolled in and is using E-Verify; and
- A student who received an initial grant of post-completion OPT employment authorization based on their STEM degree.
- OPT for M-1 Visa Students
M-1 students are limited with the amount of time that they may work in the United States in two ways. First, they may only engage in OPT after they have completed their program. Second, the time which they are permitted to work is one month for every four months of their program.
Student visa applications can be a tedious process. It is best to contact an immigration attorney to get assistance and guidance on the legal steps involved. The attorneys at Gilles Law, PLLC are here to assist with your inquiries.
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