USCIS Taking Steps to Improve Integrity of F-1 and OPT Programs
USCIS aims to improve the integrity of the F-1 and Optional Practical Training (OPT) programs by implementing an updated process that ensures consistency between Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) and USCIS systems and informs students of the potential consequences of working with a terminated employment authorization document (EAD).
Under current regulations, F-1 students in the United States on OPT face automatic termination of their OPT if they transfer to another school or begin studying at another educational level. In addition, a student’s corresponding EAD will be automatically terminated as well.
While transfer to another school or commencement of study at another educational level automatically terminates OPT authorization, F-1 students who continue to comply with all requirements to maintain their status will not otherwise be affected. One such requirement is not working with a terminated EAD, since a terminated EAD results in a lack of authorization to work in the United States. Failing to comply with this and other requirements carries significant penalties such as removal or bars on reentry to the U.S. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, there is an additional set of penalties for those remaining in the U.S. in violation of lawful nonimmigrant status who accrue unlawful presence.
Under the new process, USCIS will enter the EAD termination date after notification from SEVP and notify students. This will give affected students the opportunity to correct any errors in their records through their designated school official (DSO). USCIS intends for these steps to ultimately strengthen and promote the integrity of the F-1 and OPT programs.
If you have questions on the F-1 visa category or an OPT program, be sure to contact Berardi Immigration Law today to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys!