The University of Wisconsin-Platteville has been certified by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) to accept non-immigrant (e.g., international) students. The Primary Designated School Official (PDSO) at UW-Platteville, who is authorized to deal with immigration related issues for F-1 students, and the Responsible Officer (RO), who is authorized to deal with immigration issues for J-1 students and scholars, is the Assistant Director, Swati Kukreja.
Resources for Prospective and Current International Students
This Study in the States website provides information on how to study in the United States and how to maintain your visa status.
Maintaining Legal Status
As an F or J visa holder, it is your responsibility to know and abide by these U.S. immigration regulations.
A visa is a document issued by a consular officer at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad, and placed in a passport (issued by the travelers country), that indicates the traveler is eligible to seek entry into the United States, for a specific purpose. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) operates U.S. embassies and consulates around the world and is responsible for issuing U.S. visas.
SEVIS: Student and Exchange Visitor Information System
- SEVIS is an internet-based system that allows schools and the Department of Homeland Security to record and exchange information about the immigration status of F-1 international students and J-1 exchange visitors.
- Information is recorded, housed, and transmitted electronically throughout the students academic career and during an exchange visitors time in the US
- U.S. Embassies, Consulates and other U.S. government agencies, as well as UW-Platteville, have access to this information.
SEVIS 901 Fee
Click here to pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee.
For a video tutorial (instructions) on how to pay the SEVIS I-901 Fee, please click here.
When the visitors arrive in U.S., a Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer will scan traveler's passports and create an electronic record of arrival called a form I-94. If you need a physical copy of your I-94 to apply for a driver’s license, state ID or social security card then you can print a copy of your I-94 by accessing the CBP website at https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94. You will need to type in your name, date of birth, passport number, country of issuance, date of entry and class of admission to access your I-94 electronically.
For more detailed instructions about printing out your form I-94 for the UW-Platteville ISSS office, please click here.
U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is responsible for controlling entry of people into the US and for monitoring people while in the US as well as enforcing federal law. The United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are all components of DHS. USCIS, ICE, and CBP were formerly known as the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The title Immigration and Naturalization Service may still appear on some official documents and forms.
Form I-20 Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant (F-1) Student Status for full-time academic study. This is a DHS form, issued by UW-Platteville after all requirements for admission have been successfully completed. This form is a required document for an F-visa interview. Form DS-2019 Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status (J-1). This is a DOS form, issued by UW-Platteville after all requirements for admission have been successfully completed. This form is a required document for a J-visa interview. Form I-94 Form I-94 is the Arrival & Departure Record of F and J student visa holders and is proof of legal entry into the United States.
OPT/Optional Practical Training
Optional Practical Training (OPT) is temporary employment that is directly related to your major field of study. If you want to work off-campus as an F-1 student, one way to do so is to be approved for OPT. You cannot begin work on OPT until you receive your approval in the form of an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and it is within the dates listed on your EAD.
The information contained on this page is for general information purposes only. Due to frequent government updates, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s International Programs Office may make additions, deletions, or modifications to the contents on this page at any time without prior notice.
The directions provided here are meant to help you in completing your application but should not be considered legal advice. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ultimately provides the decision on your OPT application. It is your responsibility, as the OPT applicant, to ensure that your OPT application is accurate and complete before you submit it to the US government.
Incomplete applications could result in a delay in processing time or denial. The International Programs Office in no event shall be held liable for any delay, denial, or mistake on your OPT application.
Who can apply for OPT?
- You must have been a full-time student for at least one academic year in the United States. Enrollment at ELI or another English language school is not considered as part of the one academic year requirement.
- You must currently be in F-1 status.
- You do not need to have a job offer in order to apply for OPT.
- You must be in good academic standing and be making normal progress toward finishing your degree.
- You must not have used more than 12 months of OPT in the past at your current degree level.
- If you complete your academic program and travel internationally before applying for OPT, the International Programs Office is not able to provide you with an OPT recommended I-20, which is a necessary part of your OPT application.
- If you are finished with your academic program, you can still apply for OPT as long as the government receives your application within 60 days of the date you finished your studies, and you have not left the U.S. since completing your program.
Learn more about OPT eligibility requirements here.
When should you apply?
If you have been a full-time student for more than one academic year in the U.S. and are currently in F-1 status, you may apply for pre-completion OPT up to 90 days before you want your OPT to begin.
If you are in F-1 status and have been a full-time student for less than one academic year, you may apply for pre-completion OPT up to 90 days before you will have completed one academic year. However, your OPT cannot begin until you have completed the full academic year.
How long does your OPT last?
You can get a maximum of 12 months of OPT for each degree level you complete. If you are studying within certain fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), you may be eligible for a STEM OPT extension.
Students on post-completion OPT must report your job information within 90 days of being on OPT. If you don't report your employment or don’t find a job within that time, your OPT will automatically end.
When can you use OPT?
You can use your OPT during the following:
- Before you finish your studies (this is called Pre-Completion OPT)
- After you finish your studies (this is called Post-Completion OPT)
- Combination of the two, as long as the total amount of OPT does not exceed 12 months
Please note, if you apply for and are approved for Pre-Completion OPT, any time you are approved for (regardless of whether you actually find a job) deducts from the total 12 months of OPT you have at your current degree level. If you get approved for Pre-Completion OPT and don’t use it, it still deducts. Be prudent and intentional when applying for your OPT.
Pre-Completion OPT that is 20 hours or less per week will be deducted at half the rate. For example, if you work four months for 20 hours or less per week for Pre-Completion OPT, you will have two months deducted from your 12-month total. Therefore, you would then have ten months of OPT to use before or after graduation.
How long is the OPT approval process?
It takes around four-to-six (4-6) months to get approved for OPT. It’s important to plan ahead.
Here are some milestones in the OPT process:
- Your academic department signs off on a request form. This can take between one-to-two (1-2) weeks.
- The International Programs Office prepares your new I-20. This can take up to one (1) week.
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services evaluates your application. This can take up to five (5) months. To get an estimate, check the U.S. government processing times. You must select “I-765” for form type.
What is the OPT application process?
STEP 1: Determine who in your academic department can confirm your academic progress and completion date.
You will need to provide the name and UW-Platteville email address of your academic advisor or faculty advisor in your academic department to fill out the OPT Faculty Recommendation Form in order to apply for OPT.
STEP 2: Submit a request to the UW-Platteville International Programs Office for an I-20, recommending you for OPT. Learn about the I-20 and get instructions here.
In order to submit your request successfully, you will need to send scanned copies of your documents to email@example.com. You will need copies of the following documents:
- I-94 record
- Passport photo and biography page
- Previous employment authorization document (EAD), if you’ve previously been authorized for work in the U.S.
Once the International Programs Office receives both your request for an I-20 and the electronic confirmation from your academic department, it takes seven (7) business days to process your request. We will send an email to your UW-Platteville email address when your new I-20 is ready.
STEP 3: Get your new I-20, once you receive an email from the International Programs Office.
Once you have received an updated I-20 with the OPT recommendation, make sure to sign your new I-20 and send a copy to the International Programs Office for our records.
***Do not proceed to the next step until you have received your updated I-20 with the OPT recommendation issued by the International Programs Office.***
STEP 4: File your OPT application.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services currently accepts OPT applications through filing the online I-765.
STEP 5: Assemble and review your OPT application.
Once you have assembled your OPT application, if filing your application online, then come to one of the application review Question and Answer (Q&A) sessions at the International Programs Office to review what a complete OPT application needs to include.
Incomplete or incorrect applications can cause serious delays. If you have questions about your application, schedule a meeting with your International Programs Office advisor.
STEP 6: Submit your OPT application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must receive your application within 30 days of the date your I-20 was issued.
If you missed this deadline to submit your OPT application to the U.S. government, request an updated OPT recommended I-20 from your International Programs Office advisor. If you are applying for OPT online: review our guidance on filing the online I-765.
If you decide not to apply for or use your OPT, you must notify the International Programs Office. If you fail to notify us, your ability to work in the U.S. in the future could be denied.
STEP 7: Confirm your application was received and track your application status.
Once you submit your application, you will receive electronic and paper receipts from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services within 60 days. It can take three to five (3-5) months to process your OPT application. You can check the processing times here.
Be sure to check your status and let us know the status in the International Programs Office.
STEP 8: Set up informed delivery with the U.S. Postal Service.
Once U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services sends you any information regarding your application, they will send official notification to you through the U.S. Postal Service.
Informed delivery allows you to digitally preview your mail and manage your packages scheduled to arrive soon. Learn more about how to set up your informed delivery account.
STEP 9: Review your Employment Authorization Document and Social Security number.
Contact the International Programs Office if you notice any mistakes on your Employment Authorization Document. Please note: you must confirm that the start and end dates of your Pre-completion OPT are accurate as soon as your Pre-completion OPT is approved.
If you don't already have a Social Security number and did not apply for one when you completed the I-765, remember that you must have one to get paid. If you completed the Social Security related questions on your I-765 form, you should receive your Social Security card within a month of your OPT approval.
What is premium processing?
Premium processing is available for OPT applications. Premium processing is a way for you to pay extra money to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services so that they will expedite processing your application.
If applicants pay $1500 to request premium processing for their OPT or STEM OPT application, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will review, within 30 calendar days, Form I-765 for F-1 students seeking OPT or STEM OPT extensions. This is separate, and in addition to, the $410 application fee for the OPT application, itself.
Please keep in mind that this does not mean the application will automatically be approved within 30 calendar days. Instead, it means the application will be reviewed within 30 calendar days. Find details on how to request premium processing here.
Learn more about items to consider when seeking employment during the OPT process, including starting your own business and working remotely.
Are you starting your own business?
If you're an F-1 student on OPT, you may be able to become a self-employed business owner in limited circumstances. Unfortunately, this type of advising is beyond our area of expertise. So, if you're serious about getting a business started, discuss your plans with an immigration attorney who works with a corporate attorney.
See international students and entrepreneurship for more information about your options while you are in F-1 status. You can also find information on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Entrepreneur Visa Guide which itemizes U.S. visa options beyond F-1 and J-1 status.
Because starting your own business constitutes work, you must have employment authorization prior to starting your own business. Students in F-1 status must qualify and apply for OPT if they plan to start a business. The business must relate to your program of study and can occur either before or after the completion of your program of study.
Do you work remotely?
Any employment done within the United States must have employment authorization. This includes work you may be doing remotely either for a company within the U.S. or outside of the U.S. Learn more about these regulations here.
How many hours can you work per week?
Fall or Spring Semester
You can get authorized for Pre-completion OPT on a part-time basis only (20 hours or less per week) during the fall or spring semester while engaged in course work.
During holiday periods (such as the summer and winter breaks) you can be authorized on either a part-time or full-time basis (anything more than 20 hours per week).
If you do not plan to use your Post-completion OPT, traveling outside of the U.S. after graduation is not possible. If you are an F-1 student, you have 60 days to remain in the U.S. after completing your degree. This period of time is meant for you to make plans to leave the U.S. You can travel within the U.S., but if you leave and reenter, you may not return as an F-1 student. Please contact your International Programs Office advisor if you have questions.
Can you travel while on OPT?
If you are an international student on Post-completion OPT, who will be traveling outside of the U.S. soon and need to reenter the U.S., you can avoid a long wait in the airport immigration office by having the following documents with you:
- Passport: An unexpired passport valid at least six (6) months into the future.
- I-20 or DS 2019: An unexpired I-20 or DS-2019 with a travel signature less than six (6) months old. If you need to get a new signature on your I-20 or DS-2019, contact the International Programs Office. For F-1 students, be sure you have your printed I-20 with you. Do not rely on an electronic document.
- F-1 or J-1 Visa Stamp: An unexpired F-1 or J-1 visa stamp valid for further entries into the U.S. (Citizens of Canada do not need an entry visa). Remember, your visa can expire while you are in the U.S., but you must renew your student visa before you reenter the U.S. from an international trip if it will no longer be valid at the time of your reentry. Get more information about applying for a visa here.
- Employment Authorization Document or Employment Authorization Letter: An Employment Authorization Document issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for F-1 students on practical training.
- SEVIS Fee Receipt: Proof that you have paid the SEVIS fee. Get your SEVIS fee receipt here.
- F-1 Students - Letter of Employment (if applicable): Letter can include job title, job description, and begin and end dates (must fall within the practical training period), and a statement verifying that your employer knows you are traveling and expects you to return to complete your job. Please note: If you exceed the limits on unemployment while outside the U.S., you will not be eligible to re-enter the U.S. in F-1status.
How can you get a new travel signature?
Getting a travel signature from an advisor is easy. For current students, your travel signature is valid for one (1) year (unless the end date on your I-20 or DS-2019 is sooner). For those on Post-completion OPT, it is valid for six (6) months.
The travel signature is on page 2 of your most recent I-20. If the signature on your I-20 will expire before you reenter the U.S., you need to get a new signature. The International Programs Office may take up to five (5) business days to complete your request. Please remember, the U.S. government determines your eligibility to enter the U.S. Be prepared and have the necessary travel documents with you.
To update your travel signature, please complete the Travel Signature Request form and the International Programs Office will email you with your updated document with an electronic travel signature. Although the International Programs Office cannot guarantee expedited processing, you can contact the International Programs Office by phone to inform us of an urgent travel request.
What if you are traveling and lost or forgot your I-20?
If you must reenter the U.S. in less than a week and are unable to receive an I-20/DS-2019 from the International Programs Office, respectfully request that the officer at the U.S. immigration crossing allows you to enter with Form I-515A.
This gives you a 30-day admission as an F-1 or J-1 student and requires you to report to the International Programs Office within that timeframe to secure the required travel signature.
To qualify for the Form I-515A, you must have a valid passport, valid F-1 or J-1 visa, and your most recently issued I-20 or DS-2019. The officer may allow you to enter without your I-20 or DS-2019 at the officer’s discretion).
STEM OPT Extension
F-1 students who are currently authorized for OPT employment based on completion of a Bachelor’s, Master’s or Ph.D. degree in a Science, Technology, Engineering or Math (STEM) field, as defined by DHS, may be eligible for a 24-month extension of OPT.
- Student is currently authorized for post-completion OPT and is working for a U.S. employer in a job directly related to their field of study at the time of application.
- The major degree that was the basis for the student's current period of OPT is a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree listed on the current STEM Designated Degree Program List.
- Student has had fewer than 90 days of unemployment while on OPT.
- Student is employed by or has a job offer from an employer registered with "E-Verify."
There is a lifetime limit of two periods of STEM OPT; each occurring after a higher degree level has been obtained. A STEM degree obtained at a U.S. university prior to the student's current degree may be the basis for a STEM extension under certain circumstances.
To use a prior degree to qualify for the STEM OPT extension:
- Student's most recent degree must be from an accredited SEVP certified school.
- Student must have received the prior, qualifying STEM degree (at the bachelor’s level or higher) within 10 years preceding the date of application for the STEM OPT extension.
- The qualifying STEM degree needs to be on DHS’s STEM List at the time the student submits their application for STEM OPT extension
When To Apply
A qualifying STEM degree holder may file the STEM OPT extension application up to 90 days before the current OPT end date. The STEM OPT extension application must be received by USCIS within 60 days of the date UW-Platteville issues the new I-20 recommending the extension.
In general, a STEM OPT extension application will take three to five months to be approved. However, a student's work authorization is extended for up to 180 days while the extension application is pending.
Note that employment must conform to STEM conditions while the application is pending, including the requirement that the student work only for an E-Verify employer for which the Form I-983 was submitted.
In Spring 2022, the USCIS issued a new rule allowing students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields to request a 24-month extension of post-completion Optional Practical Training. Recent graduates in the STEM fields are now eligible to remain sponsored in UW-Platteville Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) system for up to 3 years after graduation. During this 3-year period of time University of Wisconsin - Platteville will continue to maintain and update the SEVIS record to meet federal reporting requirements for recent graduates engaged in STEM including the services below:
- Review of eligibility for work authorization using the Form I-983 for new STEM employment or changes of employers
- Provide guidance and support for the I-765 government application process
- Review of mandatory reporting documentation at the 6, 12, 18, and 24-month mark
- Updates to name, address, employer information, and employment dates
- Addition of dependent spouses and children to record
- Correction requests for data feed challenges
- Cap-gap extension for pending H1-B applicants
- Maintaining evidence of I-983s submitted during the 24-month extension
- Support with Requests for Evidence (RFE) from the USCIS
- Counseling students and employers on eligibility, process, and maintenance of status during the 24-month period
- Monitor OPT alerts and email students with compliance issues
- Provide students support with their SEVP Portal
- Reset SEVP Portal Accounts when students are locked out of the accounts
Effective Spring 2023 a fee of $200 is charged at the point of initial application for the 12-month post-completion OPT program to cover services associated with the 12-month post-completion OPT program including required reporting, counseling, and record updates for the post-completion OPT period (12 months).
Effective Spring 2023 a fee of $400 is charged at the point of initial application for the 24-month extension of OPT and processing for two annual reviews. These fees will cover the costs of providing the services listed above during the 24-month extension period of Optional Practical Training and are nonrefundable.
How to Apply and Reporting Requirements
- Complete and sign the Form I-983. The STEM OPT program requires employers to complete and sign Form I-983 training plan for the STEM OPT student they hire.
- Review and sign the student's annual self-evaluation. The student must submit the first self-evaluation within 12 months of the STEM OPT start date, and a second, final self-evaluation by the STEM OPT end date. The student submits the 12-month and final evaluations no later than 10 days following the conclusion of the applicable reporting period.
- Report material changes to an existing Form I-983. Change of Employer ID Number, reduction in student compensation not related to a reduction in hours worked, any significant decrease in hours that a student works, changes to the employer's responsibilities or student's learning objectives as documented on Form I-983, etc.
- Report student loss of employment. The employer must agree to report within 48 hours the termination or departure of a STEM OPT employee to UW-Platteville International Student Services office by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org if the termination or departure is prior to the end of the authorized period of STEM OPT. An employer shall consider a worker to have departed when employment is terminated or if the student has not reported for work for a period of 5 consecutive business days without the consent of the employer, whichever occurs first. The employer should provide the student's name and the date the student's employment ended.
- Employment must be paid and would be subject to wage protection.
For more details about reporting requirements for employers of STEM OPT students, please click here.
Under STEM OPT Extension, students are allowed an additional 60 days of unemployment, for a maximum of 150 days of unemployment (90 days during the initial period of post-completion OPT plus an additional 60 days during the STEM OPT extension period).
Employer Site Visits
Please click here for more information on site visits by the Department of Homeland Security to employer locations that train STEM OPT students.
Why STEM OPT is Good for Small Business
Life After Graduation
Congratulations on graduating! What comes next? Find out what your employment options are, what you need to travel back into the US if you're staying on to work.
How long you can stay in the US
If you decide to work within the US, you can stay here for as long as your work authorization remains valid. If you choose to instead leave the US without working:
- F-1 students can stay in the US for up to 60 days after completing studies.
Options for students who are graduating
- If you're an F-1 student and want to work, you must apply for OPT ideally 3 months prior to completing your studies.
- If you are planning to do another academic program, apply for a new I-20 or DS-2019 at another school within the US, you might have to fill the Transfer Out form.
- If you do not plan to pursue any of the options above and will depart the US during your grace period, submit the F1 Departure form and UW-Platteville will close your immigration record.
I am in F-1 status and will be completing my academic program/post-completion OPT/STEM OPT soon. I am concerned that I will not be able to leave the United States before my 60 days grace period ends. What options exist for me?
If you are not interested in pursuing any of the options listed above, we encourage you to schedule a zoom meeting with Advisor to discuss whether changing from F-1 to another status in the United States may be a viable option for you.
Please contact IPO at email@example.com.
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