Ways F-1 international students on the OPT program can maintain status and remain legally in the United States.

RND4IMPACT INC.
2 min readDec 27, 2022

F-1 international students on Optional Practical Training (OPT) can maintain their legal status in the United States by engaging in authorized employment or volunteering for a nonprofit organization. Maintaining legal status is vital for F-1 students on OPT, as it allows them to continue to study and work in the United States while they gain practical experience in their field of study.

To maintain status while on OPT, F-1 students must follow specific guidelines set by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). These guidelines include:

1. The student must be actively engaged in authorized employment or volunteering for a nonprofit organization related to their field of study.

2. The student must report any employment or volunteer status changes to their Designated School Official (DSO) and update their SEVIS record.

3. The student must maintain a valid F-1 visa and be in good academic standing at school.

4. The student must not work more than 20 hours per week during classes unless they have received permission from their DSO to engage in full-time employment.

5. The student must not engage in unauthorized employment or violate the terms of their OPT.

F-1 students on OPT can engage in either paid or unpaid employment or volunteer for a nonprofit organization. Paid employment can include:

- Working for a U.S. employer.

- Participating in an internship or co-op program.

- Engaging in self-employment related to the student’s field of study.

Unpaid employment or volunteering must meet specific guidelines, including being related to the student’s field of study and not providing any financial benefit to the employer or nonprofit organization.

In addition to maintaining their status through employment or volunteering, F-1 students on OPT must also follow other regulations related to their visa status. This can include maintaining a valid passport, reporting any changes in their personal information to their DSO, and not engaging in activities that would violate the terms of their visa.

Overall, F-1 international students on OPT can maintain their legal status in the United States by engaging in authorized employment or volunteering for a nonprofit organization and following the guidelines set by the USCIS.

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RND4IMPACT INC.

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