Question: Do I qualify for Optional Practical Training (OPT)?
Answer: In general, foreign students qualify for Optional Practical Training (OPT) if they entered the United States as bona fide students and are pursuing a full course of study (most commonly in F-1 Visa Status). Students meeting these criteria are usually eligible for up to 12 months of OPT per educational level.
Some students may be eligible for an extension of the 12-month time limit, and you should contact an immigration attorney if you think you may qualify for an extension. Students who have participated in other work-study or curricular employment programs, however, may be ineligible for OPT.
OPT may be granted for any legitimate purpose other than to prepare the foreign national for permanent residence in the United States. Although OPT cannot be used to train a foreign national for a permanent U.S. position, it can be used to train a graduate for an employment position in an office abroad. It can also be used as a trial period to assess an alien’s skills.
Students interested in OPT should consult with their university or an immigration attorney to determine whether they are eligible for pre- or post-graduation OPT. Please keep in mind, however, that all OPT must generally be completed within 14 months of graduation.
Question: What does it mean that the F2A category is now current?
Answer: The Immigration and Nationality Act sets numerical limits on the number of visas that will be issued each year to categories of prospective immigrants. The F2A category is a family-based visa category that applies to spouses of lawful permanent residents and their unmarried children under 21 years of age.
Every month, the U.S. Department of State issues a bulleting that informs the public about how many visas are currently available since there are generally more potential immigrants than there are available visas. In recent memory, the F2A category has always had a long wait (often two to three years). The August 2013 visa bulleting, however, indicated that the F2A category is now current. The category is also current for September.
This means spouses of lawful permanent residents who are currently lawfully in the United States may immediately file the I-130 petition and I-485 Adjustment of Status application to get a green card. Both forms may be filed concurrently as long as the category stays current.
If a spouse or unmarried child under the age of 21 is currently residing outside of the United States, the individual is eligible to apply for Consular Processing if they have an approved I-130. Individuals without an approved I-130 petition may wish to file as soon as possible to take advantage of this recent change as it is unknown how long the F2A category will remain current. It is likely the category will experience some retrogression in the coming months.
Please consult an immigration attorney if you think you may be able to take advantage of this exciting opportunity.
Emil Dixon is the founder of the Davis Legal Center, a private law office located in Davis, California.