F-1 and J-1 Student Trainees
F-1 student with Optional Practical Training
At the conclusion of a degree program, students in F-1 visa status may be eligible to apply for one year of employment authorization called Optional Practical Training (“OPT”). 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 students office at the university where the student is graduating, and must be approved by US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Upon approval the trainee receives an Employment Authorization Document (“EAD”), which satisfies requirements for documenting identity and employment eligibility on Form I-9. The student remains in F-1 student status for the duration of OPT and will have a 60-day grace period when it ends.
OPT may be extended for an additional 24 months (for a total of 36 months) if the trainee 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.) STEM OPT employment requires that the trainee and employer complete and sign a Form I-983 Training Plan. The employer must make a number of attestations on this document, including but not limited to (1) that the trainee will not replace a full-time or part-time temporary or permanent U.S. worker and (2) that the terms and conditions of the STEM OPT opportunity, including compensation and benefits, are commensurate with similarly-situated U.S. workers. The trainee then provides the training plan to their international students office and proceeds with applying for STEM OPT employment authorization.
Please note that tenure-track employment is fundamentally inconsistent with OPT. If a UW unit is considering offering a tenure-track or permanent appointment to an F-1 student trainee, that student should be moved to an H-1B as soon as possible. Please contact ISO if you have questions about hiring a trainee for a permanent appointment.
Frequently Asked Questions regarding the I-983 Training Plan
Please note that this information is only applicable for UW campus units.
Q: Who should fill out the I-983 Training Plan?
A: The trainee should fill out Section 1 (“Student Information”). The supervisor should fill out Section 2 (“Employer Information”). The trainee and supervisor should fill out Section 5 (“Training Plan for STEM OPT Students”) together.
Q: Who should sign the Training Plan?
A: The trainee should sign at the bottom of page 1. An employer official with signatory authority (i.e. someone at the Department Chair level or above) should sign at the bottom of pages 2 and 4, and on each Evaluation on Student Progress.
Q: What is the UW’s Employer Identification Number?
Q: How many full-time employees does the UW have in the U.S.?
Q: What is the UW’s NAICS Code?
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 receive 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.