BusinesNews Wire Press Release company Logo
Home Ipsnews What types of companies can OPT be affiliated with? Is it safe to affiliate with a friend’s company during OPT?

What types of companies can OPT be affiliated with? Is it safe to affiliate with a friend’s company during OPT?

by Busines Newswire
0 comment

What’s the timeline for applying for post-graduation OPT?

OPT (Optional Practical Training) is a work permit for international students in the United States after completing their studies, allowing them to gain work experience in their field of study. During OPT, students can work for a period of time in the United States to enrich their resumes and gain practical work experience.

When applying for an OPT EAD (Employment Authorization Document) card from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), you need to follow the “90-day, 60-day, 30-day” rule:

ICE specifies that OPT EAD applications can be submitted as early as 90 days before graduation and as late as 60 days after graduation. The application must also be submitted within 30 days of the school’s Designated School Official (DSO) updating the OPT information in the SEVIS system. Applications submitted outside of this timeframe will be rejected by ICE.

The term “graduation” here, as defined by ICE, uses the completion date. It’s important to note that different schools may have varying definitions of the completion date, which might not align with the formal graduation day or the day of receiving the degree certificate. This definition of the completion date is crucial, and you can generally refer to the school’s Academic Calendar or directly confirm with your school’s DSO.

For example, at New York University (NYU), regarding OPT applications, their completion date likely coincides with the end of the final semester’s exam week or the last deadline for completing graduation theses set by thesis advisors for graduating students.

Suppose the completion date defined by the school is May 12th of this year. In that case, the earliest time to submit the OPT application is February 11th, and the latest is July 11th.

The “90-day, 60-day, 30-day” rule pertains to EAD card applications related to ICE. Preparation for OPT with DSO can begin earlier than 90 days before graduation.

Official Definition of OPT Unemployment Days:

During OPT, USCIS defines unemployment days as follows:

  • After OPT begins, your cumulative unemployment days cannot exceed 90 days. If it surpasses 90 days, your F-1 status will be considered invalid, and Sevis will be deactivated, requiring you to leave the United States immediately or switch to another visa.
  • If you have already started STEM OPT, then your total cumulative unemployment days cannot exceed 150 days (the initial 90 days of the first year plus an additional 60 days after extension). For example, if you have already used 30 days during your first year of regular OPT, you can have a maximum of 120 days during your STEM OPT period.
  • Whether it’s OPT or STEM OPT, employment must be full-time, meaning you must work for at least 20 hours per week. If you work fewer than 20 hours per week, it will still count as unemployment. You can have multiple employers during OPT, but you must have one full-time employer.

Impact of Exceeding 90 Days of Unemployment:

The SEVP tracks unemployment periods using the Unemployment Counter algorithm. Student information in Sevis is managed by the DSO. It’s crucial to submit information about a new employer within 10 days of changing employers; otherwise, you risk your visa being checked.

  1. Your employment status during OPT will be recorded in your SEVIS record. If the unemployment period exceeds, it could affect your future applications for other statuses, such as STEM OPT and H-1B visas.
  2. If your unemployment period exceeds and you haven’t applied to switch to another status, you should leave the United States. Days spent unlawfully in the United States after exceeding the unemployment period count as illegal detention, which can affect your future entry into the country.

What should I do if I’m about to exceed the 90-day limit:

  1. During regular OPT, students can work unpaid as long as they maintain a minimum of 20 hours of work per week. If you haven’t found a job yet, you can try contacting professors at your school for internships in school labs or volunteering in the community. Alternatively, you can temporarily affiliate your OPT with a friend’s company and work on simple projects (note that the company must have business operations and be able to provide internship certification and work records).
  2. Applying to switch to another status can be costly, such as changing from F1 to B visa or F1 to F2 spouse visa, or joining a Day1-CPT program at a university.

What types of companies can OPT be affiliated with?

However, when affiliating with a company during OPT, some considerations need attention to ensure one’s legality and safety. The types of companies OPT can be affiliated with typically should be relevant to the student’s field of study and operate legally. Generally, the following types of companies are considered:

  • Legally registered companies: Companies must be legally registered and operate in the United States. These companies can vary in size, including small startups, medium-sized enterprises, or large multinational corporations. Before determining to work with a visa agency, students should first understand the specific situation of the company. This includes the company’s registration information, organizational structure, and website. You can also obtain the exact address and contact information of the company through maps, phone calls, faxes, and emails. Additionally, company information can be checked on state government websites. For example, in NYC, you can check if the company is actually registered at https://apps.dos.ny.gov/publicInquiry/.
  • Preferably choose companies with official websites: A legitimate OPT-affiliated company often has its official website. Students can learn about the company’s mission, services, qualifications, etc., through the website, and they can also use the message system or online customer service consultation system on the company’s website to inquire about company-related questions. Relatively smaller companies may not have their own website; in this case, you should gather more information, such as checking state government information, verifying company information on the E-Verify website, etc.
  • Companies relevant to the student’s major: Students should choose companies relevant to their field of study to ensure that internship experience aligns with their educational background, aiding future career development. When selecting a company, students must choose positions and companies that match the major they studied in school, as OPT requires internships in related fields. “All OPT employment must be directly related to the student’s major field of study and commensurate with the degree level.” Not every company can serve as an employer; for example, jobs in the restaurant and service industries do not meet the requirements for relevant OPT work.
  • Companies capable of providing internship opportunities and guidance: Students should select companies that can provide a good internship environment and guidance. This ensures that they gain valuable work experience and receive necessary support and guidance during the internship.

Is it possible to affiliate with a friend’s company during OPT?

When considering affiliating with a friend’s company, extra caution is necessary to ensure compliance with relevant laws and regulations. Affiliating with a friend’s company may pose some potential risks, such as raising suspicions about the legality of the internship or the friend’s company may be unable to provide an internship environment and guidance that meets OPT requirements. Additionally, affiliating with a friend’s company may affect interpersonal relationships, so this choice should be carefully considered.

In summary, when selecting an affiliated company, one should carefully choose and ensure the selection of a legally registered, relevant to their major, and capable of providing a good internship environment and guidance. Affiliating with a friend’s company may involve risks that need to be carefully considered and evaluated. Most importantly, students should comply with relevant laws and regulations to ensure that their internship experience is legal, beneficial, and contributes to their future career development

Can OPT be self-employed?

Self-employment is possible, but consultation with a lawyer is necessary. Self-employment involves annual state inspections and tax inspections, and if the company is not in operation, it must be closed. Otherwise, the accumulated costs of company and tax inspections will be recorded under your SSN, affecting future visa and credit background checks! Remember!

How to choose a good OPT-affiliated company?

Choosing a good affiliated company is crucial for international students as it directly affects their internship experience and future career development. Here are some suggestions to help students choose a good affiliated company:

  • Relevance to the student’s major: Students should choose a company relevant to their field of study. Affiliating with companies in related fields allows students to gain internship experience closer to their major, enhancing their competitiveness in the job market.
  • Company reputation and credibility: Students should investigate the reputation and credibility of affiliated companies. They can do this by checking the company’s official website, reading customer and employee reviews, and communicating with past or current employees to understand the company’s work environment and culture.
  • Internship opportunities and projects: Students should choose companies that offer rich internship opportunities and projects. They can do this by reviewing the company’s recruitment information, understanding the company’s business scope and project types, and communicating with the company’s human resources or internship project managers to determine if the company can provide opportunities that meet their internship needs.
  • Guidance and training: Students should choose companies that can provide good guidance and training. Affiliating with companies with a good mentorship system or training plan can help students better integrate into the work environment, learn quickly, and grow during the internship.
  • Work environment and culture: Students should choose companies whose values and work styles align with their own. They can do this by participating in the company’s recruitment events or interviews, communicating with company employees, and personally visiting the company’s office environment to understand the company’s work atmosphere and culture.
  • Legal compliance: Students should ensure that the selected company complies with relevant US laws and regulations and can provide an internship environment that meets OPT requirements. They can consult the school’s international student office or professional advisors to obtain guidance on OPT affiliation laws and regulations.
  • Personal development opportunities: Students should choose companies that can provide personal development opportunities and career advancement space. They can do this by understanding the company’s promotion paths and employee training plans and communicating with current company employees to determine if the company can help them achieve their personal and career development goals.

What exactly is OPT affiliation?

OPT affiliation is an internship arrangement that allows international students with F-1 visas to extend their stay in the United States after graduation and gain work experience in US companies or organizations. Typically, affiliation refers to students working as interns at a company without directly signing a formal employment contract with the company, instead being connected through a third-party agency (usually a human resources intermediary company or internship service provider). This third-party agency signs a contract with the company and then dispatches students to intern at the company.

Students affiliated with OPT typically gain internship experience at the company, which helps enrich their resumes and enhance their competitiveness in the job market. At the same time, the affiliated company also has the opportunity to assess students’ performance during the internship period, providing a reference for potential formal employment in the future.

OPT affiliation must comply with USCIS regulations

However, it’s worth noting that affiliation must comply with USCIS requirements for full-time work during OPT: “Post-completion OPT: You may apply to participate in post-completion OPT after completing your studies. If you are authorized for post-completion OPT, you must work part time (at least 20 hours per week) or full time.” It’s also necessary to ensure that the internship is related to the student’s major and conducted in a legally registered company. Additionally, the affiliated company must also comply with relevant laws and regulations to ensure that students receive necessary guidance and support during the internship and work in an environment that meets OPT requirements.

What risks may be involved in choosing OPT affiliation and how to prevent them?

Although affiliation brings many benefits, students still need to be vigilant about potential risks during the selection process. On the one hand, it is necessary to guard against unscrupulous affiliated companies, which may provide false information or engage in fraudulent activities. When selecting a company, students should verify its legitimacy. On the other hand, attention should be paid to the safety of the work environment to ensure that the affiliated company’s work environment meets hygiene standards and legal requirements to safeguard students’ physical and mental health. In addition, students should understand their supervisory rights during the affiliation process to ensure that their interests are protected and confirm that the company is not on the blacklist.

In summary, while affiliation can indeed create better career development opportunities for students in the United States, students should carefully assess risks when selecting a company, choose legally registered and reputable companies, and strictly comply with relevant laws, regulations, and requirements to safeguard their rights and interests. When choosing a company, international students should consider various aspects such as the company’s physical office, official website, qualifications, reputation, services, etc., to identify legitimate companies and avoid falling into traps due to visa issues. At the same time, students also need to have a clear understanding of their visa affairs to minimize any unnecessary risks.

MaxOPT is dedicated to maintaining your status during OPT, extension OPT, switching statuses, Day-1CPT enrollment, applying for spousal visas within the country, background checks, and more. For further details, please add us on WeChat at USAkaopu for consultation.