Hiring Employees 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). Generally, OPT is used after the student completes their degree. OPT is initially approved for a period of up to twelve months.

If an employee 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 F-1 OPT student take?

Since each case is unique, the department should contact a scholar adviser 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 so starting the discussion sufficiently in advance may allow more options for the F-1 OPT student 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 a 24-Month STEM OPT Extension.

For information about whether a particular employee is eligible for the STEM OPT extension, the employee should check with the international office at the institution where they obtained the degree. The Berkeley International Office can only confirm STEM OPT extension eligibility for employees who graduated from UC Berkeley. Berkeley International Office's STEM OPT webpage includes instructional materials and information regarding the 24-Month STEM OPT Extension.

What is the Form I-983? Who should fill it out? How do I complete it?

F-1 students requesting a 24-Month STEM OPT Extension must complete a Form I-983 Training Plan with their employer. The F-1 OPT student and their employer must complete and sign Form I-983 and submit pages 1-5 to the student's F-1 program sponsor. The I-983 must clearly articulate the STEM OPT learning objectives and affirm the employer's commitment to helping the F-1 OPT student achieve those objectives.

Please refer these students to their home institutions for initial information and advising on the STEM OPT extension obligations and the Form I-983. UC Berkeley students can find information on the BIO STEM OPT webpage, including a detailed tutorial specific to UC Berkeley students.

At UC Berkeley, we recognize that policies and procedures may vary by department or unit. We recommend that supervisors and department administrators review the Form I-983 instructions to determine who would be the most appropriate individual to complete the form and articulate the necessary information.

The Department of Homeland Security Study in the States STEM OPT Hub also includes instructions specific to employers.

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.

What is UC Berkeley's EIN Number? What is UC Berkeley's NAICS code?

UC Berkeley's EIN number is 946002123 and the NAICS code is 611310.

What is the number of full-time employees at UC Berkeley?

This information can be found on the UCOP website.