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How to Apply For a Green Card on OPT


OPT stands for Occasional Practical Training and allows F-1 degree program students to gain valuable work experience directly related to their field.

If you are on OPT, USCIS will not terminate your EAD until its program end date has passed – giving you time to travel abroad during that period.

Employer-Sponsored OPT Extensions

OPT allows international students with F-1 visas to work temporarily in the US during an OPT period. By working in your field of study and making connections in professional fields that will benefit your career goals, an OPT experience may also serve as an essential stepping-stone to eventually gaining a green card.

Chudnovsky Law’s OPT to Green Card process may seem complex, but it can be achieved successfully with our guidance. At Chudnovsky Law, we specialize in helping F-1 students obtain employment-based green cards. Our lawyers are well versed in OPT, STEM OPT, and H-1B visa regulations so that we can guide you through every stage of immigration proceedings from start to finish.

F-1 students pursuing science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) degrees are eligible for an extended 24-month OPT period post-completion. This extension may be used to work in your field of study for paid or unpaid activities such as volunteering. STEM OPT extensions enjoy high approval rates among both F-1 and F-2 students.

While on OPT, it is your responsibility to meet all visa status requirements – including reporting to USCIS. Otherwise, your work authorization will lapse, and you must leave the country for 60 days before being eligible to reenter. However, suppose your OPT expires while applying for an H-1B visa petition, and USCIS has yet to approve it. In that case, a “cap-gap” extension can allow you to remain on OPT until USCIS approves your H-1B petition.

If you wish to obtain a green card through your employer, start the process as early as possible to ensure enough time is allotted to meet all requirements. For instance, if you are on OPT and your company wishes to sponsor you for a permanent residency visa, discuss this at least three months before its end date.

A green card grants legal residency in the United States and marks your final step to becoming a permanent resident. There are various methods by which this status can be acquired, including employer sponsorship.

STEM OPT Extensions

F-1 students who have earned degrees in science, technology, engineering, or math may qualify for an extension of their OPT. The STEM OPT extension allows F-1 students to work for 24 months in fields related to their major. When applying, students must be in their final semester and possess either a bachelor’s or master’s degree from an accredited U.S. institution that appears on the Department of Homeland Security’s list of STEM-designated degrees.

Students on STEM OPT must work in paid positions directly related to their major instead of volunteer or internship positions. E-Verify registration of their worksite and having an EAD card valid to work there are essential for STEM OPT applications; some exceptional circumstances may require additional documentation – please review BIO’s STEM OPT tutorial for assistance in applying.

The first step to getting a green card during OPT: applying for Permanent Labor Certification (PERM). This certificate enables an employer to hire foreign national employees in permanent roles. Unfortunately, applying for this can take years with a high failure rate; as a result, many students who get offers during OPT must turn them down to pursue green cards.

While on STEM OPT, it is vital that a student keeps up with schoolwork and reports to ISS regularly. When USCIS approves their OPT or STEM OPT extension, the student will receive their new EAD card information, with STEM designator, expiration date, and start/end dates of OPT extension included on it. Should the student need to travel outside the United States during their extension period, they should always keep a copy of their valid EAD with them in case reentry into the country is required upon return.

EB-3 OPT Extensions

Green cards are lawful permanent resident visas that grant holders full legal status in the US. They offer many advantages over temporary work visas, such as immunity from deportation and access to federal jobs requiring security clearances. Unfortunately, transitioning from OPT to a green card can be an uphill struggle; many seek it but must first find an economically and logistically sustainable path forward; there are various methods by which this may be accomplished.

Optional Practical Training, or OPT for short, is a temporary employment authorization available to F-1 degree program students seeking experience in their chosen field. Through OPT, participants can acquire valuable skills and make professional connections that could prove essential in future career pursuits. Unfortunately, its usage period is limited – once it expires, an OPT must either be replaced with another nonimmigrant visa type or leave the United States altogether.

OPT eligibility requires lawfully enrolling as a degree student for at least one full academic year at a university, conservatory, or seminary certified by SEVP. Once their program has concluded and they have obtained a valid Social Security Number, they may begin working on OPT in their field of study.

Suppose a student who has participated in OPT at either the Bachelor, Master, or Doctorates levels and wishes to extend it must apply for an EB-3 OPT extension. In that case, their degree must appear on DHS’ list of STEM degrees eligible for this form of OPT, and they must apply along with all supporting documents for approval from USCIS.

EB-3 OPT extensions last 24 months and must be completed before their grace period or OPT expiration date. Students must follow all rules and regulations set out by their OPT program during this time, such as reporting to BIO and SEVIS regularly, remaining active in their field of study, and not remaining unemployed for over 90 days.

EB-4 OPT Extensions

EB-4 OPT Extensions offer international students STEM extensions to extend their employment authorization by 24 months. This option is open to F-1 students who graduated with degrees that appear on the Department of Homeland Security’s list of STEM degrees; during this timeframe, you may continue working in the United States with employers authorized by E-Verify.

To meet these eligibility requirements for an extension of a study permit, one must fulfill several requirements. First and foremost is being enrolled full-time and fulfilling all degree requirements, such as passing all final exams and submitting a thesis or dissertation. Furthermore, it would be best if you were awarded your degree by an institution of higher education in good academic standing with valid Form I-20 documentation.

Apply for this extension while on OPT; however, your work won’t begin until the SEVP office approves your application. Start this process early, as your status will automatically expire if no application is submitted within 180 days from when OPT ended; in addition, find work related directly to your area of study that meets educational level requirements.

If your SEVIS record demonstrates that you have satisfied all criteria, the SEVP office will recommend your STEM OPT extension request to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once approved, USCIS will notify you of its decision and issue you a new EAD card. Each educational level (Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctorate) may only receive one 12-month extension; any individual extension must apply to different employers; furthermore, it cannot overlap with previous OPT periods of 12 months or longer, and part-time OPT counts half-rate

Green cards are legal permanent residence permits that allow eligible foreign nationals to live and work legally in the US. Unfortunately, green cards can seem out of reach to many F-1 visa OPT participants residing in countries with long backlogs for immigration visas; there are, however various strategies for pursuing green cards while on OPT that all require significant time and resources investment.