USCIS Reminds F-1 Students About OPT Termination

May 22, 2018 Chelsea Iversen

USCIS recently published a reminder that F-1 students who are in Optional Practical Training (OPT) programs will have their OPT status automatically revoked if they transfer to another school or start studies at a new educational level. This applies, for example, to an undergraduate OPT student starting a graduate program. With the termination of the OPT status, the corresponding employment authorization (EAD) will also be automatically terminated.

In this announcement, F-1 students are reminded that they’re only permitted to work in the U.S. with an EAD and to do so without it could have “serious immigration consequences, including removal from the country and bars on reentry.”

To date, Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) lets USCIS know about an OPT termination date, and the termination occurs automatically at that point. Recently, USCIS’s systems have been updated so that the agency will now enter the EAD termination dates into their system after they’re received word from ICE with the termination date. USCIS will then contact designated school officials (DSOs) in order to notify students in case there are errors in their record that need to be corrected.

Please see below for the full USCIS announcement:

USCIS reminds F-1 students on Optional Practical Training (OPT) that transferring to another school or beginning study at another educational level (for example, beginning a master’s program after completing a bachelor’s degree) automatically terminates their OPT as well as their corresponding employment authorization document (EAD).

Although authorization to engage in OPT ends upon transferring to a different school or changing educational level, students in F-1 status will not be otherwise affected as long as they comply with all requirements for maintaining their student status. These requirements include not working with a terminated EAD, because termination means that students are no longer authorized to work in the United States. Working in the United States without authorization has serious immigration consequences, including removal from the country and bars on reentry. Furthermore, remaining in the United States in violation of lawful nonimmigrant status could lead to an accrual of unlawful presence which includes another set of penalties under the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Currently, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) informs USCIS of the termination date, and the OPT termination is automatic under current regulations. USCIS has updated its systems and will begin to enter the EAD termination date into these systems after being notified by SEVP. USCIS will notify affected students and provide them with an opportunity to correct any errors in the record via their designated school official (DSO). This process is intended to strengthen the integrity of the F-1 and OPT programs, to ensure consistency between SEVP and USCIS systems, and to inform students of possible consequences of working with a terminated EAD.

Please read our recent blog post for tips to navigate the F-1 visa. And visit our policy and news page to subscribe for updates on immigration news.

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