F-1 student with Optional Practical Training
At the conclusion of a degree program, students in F-1 visa status may apply for one year of employment authorization called “Optional Practical Training.” While the employment may take place on or off-campus in any field related to their degree program, this year of training must be recommended by the international office at the university where the student is graduating, and must be approved by US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Upon approval the student receives an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The student remains in F-1 student status during this year of training. OPT may be extended an additional 17 months (total of 29 months) if the student currently has OPT authorization, has completed a degree in a qualifying science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) field, and has a job or job offer from an E-Verify employer. (The UW participates in the E-Verify program.) The EAD satisfies requirements for documenting identity and employment eligibility on Form I-9.
J-1 student with Academic Training
Graduates in the J-1 “student” category may be eligible for a period of employment authorization at the conclusion of their degree program called “Academic Training.” Academic Training must be authorized in writing by the Responsible Officer (RO) in the international office at the university where the student is graduating. Academic Training applications are not processed through USCIS, nor does the trainee recieve an EAD card. The official letter from the RO, along with evidence of valid J-1 status (DS-2019, I-94, and passport) satisfy I-9 employment eligibility requirements. Academic Training may be granted for a period up to 18 months. For postdoctoral training, the overall limit is 36 months.
Transitioning to an employment visa
Optional Practical Training (F-1 student) and Academic Training (J-1 student) provide temporary employment authorization. Before hiring a trainee, consult an advisor to determine whether options exist for the UW to provide visa sponsorship to continue the employment beyond the expiration of the training period.