FAQs about F-1 OPT Work Authorization Verification
Many F-1 students selected under the H-1B lottery have an expiring or expired Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Our clients are asking us how to verify their work authorization.
We have created these FAQs to guide you through the process.
How do I verify work authorization for a student under F-1 status and OPT?The following document establishes a student’s identity and employment authorization for Form I-9:
Unexpired OPT EAD (Employment Authorization Document).
How do I verify a student under F-1 status and OPT Cap-Gap?If a student is in F-1 OPT status when you file a cap-subject H-1B petition with an October 1 start date,
they will receive an automatic cap-gap extension of both their F-1 student status and their OPT work
authorization. If the H-1B petition is selected and remains pending or is approved, the student will remain
authorized to work as an F-1 student with OPT EAD through September 30.
The following documents establish identity and employment authorization for Form I-9 purposes for
students under OPT cap-gap: Expired OPT EAD and Form I-20 endorsed by the student’s designated school
official (DSO) reflecting the cap-gap extension.
These documents are acceptable through September 30 of the year in which the employer filed the H1B petition unless the H-1B petition is rejected, not selected, denied, revoked or withdrawn before October
If a student is in F-1 status when you file an H-1B petition with an October 1 start date, but the student
does not have a current OPT EAD, the student will receive a cap-gap extension of their F-1 status, but will
not be authorized to work until USCIS approves the H-1B petition and the H-1B status begins.
How do I verify a student under F-1 status and STEM OPT?The EAD issued to a student with F-1 STEM OPT states “STU: STEM OPT ONLY.” The following documents
establish a student’s identity and employment authorization for Form I-9: Unexpired STEM OPT EAD, or for
certain students, an expired OPT EAD presented with Form I-20 endorsed by the student’s DSO
recommending a STEM extension.
The expired EAD with an endorsed Form I-20 for STEM OPT is acceptable until USCIS makes a decision
on the student’s application, but for not more than180 days from the OPT EAD expiration date. Employment
authorization must be re-verified after 180 days from the date the EAD expires to continue employment.