Attention students completing your academic programs in the winter session: the OPT application process requires careful timing, particularly due to the unique schedule of winter course completion. Somireddy Law Group is committed to ensuring you are well-informed to avoid pitfalls that may jeopardize your OPT application success.
Winter Session Considerations:
- Early Planning: If you complete your courses in the winter, start planning your OPT application early to account for holiday season delays and reduced university staffing.
- 90 Days Before Program End: You can apply for OPT up to 90 days before your program’s end date.
- 60 Days After Program End: USCIS must receive your OPT application no later than 60 days after your program’s end date.
- 30-Day Window: You must file your OPT application within 30 days of your DSO updating your SEVIS record with the OPT recommendation within 90 days before and 60 days after time period. Do not wait until spring; your 30-day window begins immediately after program completion.
- Misguided Advice: Some students have been informed that missing the 30-day window can be rectified with a new I-20 form, allowing another 30 days to apply. This is incorrect and has led to denials. Once your DSO enters the recommendation into SEVIS, the clock starts ticking.
Winter Completion Example: If your program’s end date is December 15, 2023:
- Begin applying for OPT as early as September 16, 2023.
- USCIS must receive your OPT application no later than February 13, 2024.
- All applications must be submitted within 30 days of your DSO’s OPT recommendation in SEVIS.
- Winter Break Impact: Be mindful that university offices, including the international students’ office, may have limited hours during the winter break. Ensure your OPT recommendation is entered into SEVIS before staff availability decreases.
Action Steps for Winter Completers:
- Verify Dates Early: Check with your DSO well in advance to know when they will enter your OPT recommendation into SEVIS.
- Holiday Schedule: Account for the holiday season in your application timeline.
- Legal Consultation: For individual circumstances or uncertainties, contact us at Somireddy Law Group for expert legal advice tailored to your situation.
It’s crucial for winter graduates to act swiftly and accurately in the OPT application process. By staying proactive and informed, you can navigate the process successfully and set the stage for your practical training experience in the United States.