U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently

reminded F-1 students on Optional Practical Training (OPT) that

transferring to another school or beginning study at another

educational level (for example, beginning a master's program

after completing a bachelor's degree) automatically terminates

their OPT as well as their corresponding employment authorization

document (EAD).

Although authorization to engage in OPT ends upon transferring

to a different school or changing educational level, students in

F-1 status will not be otherwise affected as long as they comply

with all requirements for maintaining their student status, USCIS

said. These requirements include not working with a terminated EAD,

because termination means that students are no longer authorized to

work in the United States. Working in the United States without

authorization “has serious immigration consequences, including

removal from the country and bars on reentry. Furthermore,

remaining in the United States in violation of lawful nonimmigrant

status could lead to an accrual of unlawful presence which includes

another set of penalties under the Immigration and Nationality

Act,” USCIS warned.

Currently, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE)

Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) informs USCIS of the

termination date, and the OPT termination is automatic under

current regulations, USCIS noted. USCIS said it has updated its

systems and will begin to enter the EAD termination date into these

systems after being notified by SEVP. USCIS will notify affected

students and provide them with an opportunity to correct any errors

in the record via their designated school official.

The OPT program grew 400% from 2008 to 2016, according to a Pew

Research Center analysis of U.S. Immigration and Customs

Enforcement data. Students from India made up the largest portion

of OPT permit holders during the period analyzed, with 441,400

permit holders, a 30% share of the total number. Students from

China came second at 313,500 (21%), followed by South Koreans at

90,800 (6%).

The USCIS announcement is at https://bit.ly/2IsCNFP. The Pew

Research Center report is at

http://www.pewglobal.org/2018/05/10/number-of-foreign-college-students-staying-and-working-in-u-s-after-graduation-surges/#fn-40543-2.

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