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 least two consecutive semesters 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). Genrerally, OPT is used after the student completes their degree.  OPT is initially approved for a period of up to twelve months.

If a scholar is currently working on OPT at UC Berkeley, 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 a scholar advisor at the Berkeley International Office six months prior to the expiration date on the EAD to discuss the next steps.  The timeframe and process can vary therefore starting a discussion in advance may allow more options for the scholar and department to consider.

Can OPT be extended?

Students who have received a U.S. Bachelor’s, Master’s, or Doctoral degree in certain STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields may be eligible for an extension of OPT. The OPT STEM Extension is currently undergoing a change from 17-month to 24-month, effective May 10, 2016. Information regarding the 17-Month rule and the transition to the new 24-Month rule, eligiblity, and employer requirements can be found on the Dept. of Homeland Security OPT STEM Hub

For information about whether a particular scholar is eligible for the OPT STEM extension, the scholar should check with the international office at the institution where they obtained the degree. The Berkeley International Office can only confirm OPT STEM extension eligibility for scholars who graduated from UC Berkeley. Berkeley International Office's STEM OPT website will be updated soon to include instructional mterials and information regardnig the new STEM rule.

What is E-Verify?

E-Verify is an internet based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA).  The system allows participating employers to electronically verify the employment eligibility of their newly hired employees.

Is UC Berkeley registered with E-Verify?

Yes, UC Berkeley is registered with E-Verify.  UC Berkeley's E-Verify number is 286822 and company name is listed as:  University of California, Berkeley. This information should only be used for paid UC Berkeley employees.  For additional information about E-Verify at UC Berkeley, please contact Human Resources at 642-7053.