Noemi Collado is a CU Boulder graduate who is currently gaining practical training while on STEM OPT. ISSS reached out to Noemi to ask about the type of training she is doing and how Post-Completion OPT has helped her gain practical training in her major field of study (Chemical Engineering). ISSS is excited to spotlight Noemi’s experience and advice for other F-1 students who might be planning to apply for Post-Completion OPT and STEM OPT.
Noemi is working as a Research Associate in Process Engineering at American Air Liquide Inc. When asked about the type of projects Noemi is working on, she said, “I work on different research projects related to Process Engineering both for external requests and for the technology development of the company. Since I'm working on research, this OPT experience allows me to keep learning in my field every day.”
ISSS supports students before their OPT journey by providing step by step instructions for seeking OPT authorization, reviewing their application materials, and issuing the I-20 that recommends OPT. Before applying for OPT, Noemi wishes she knew more about the deadlines and conditions needed to apply (e.g. last research date, graduation date, semester enrollment, etc.).
When seeking OPT authorization and applying for her current position, Noemi stated, “The application, interview, and hiring process for me as an OPT student was very easy because my manager and the company were both very familiar with the OPT process.” ISSS wants to remind students that the Career Services Office at CU Boulder is a valuable connection for students in their career pursuits.
Noemi’s advice to a student applying for OPT is, “Get a lot of information, make sure you understand all the deadlines and conditions, and don't be afraid to ask for help! Also, I would recommend that you don’t listen to friend’s/colleague’s advice related to the OPT application and deadlines since each situation is different and sometimes it can lead to confusion.” ISSS is here to help support each of our F-1 students who wish to pursue OPT. Students can and should take advantage of ISSS resources, workshops, and advising opportunities to understand the application process, reporting requirements, and status maintenance requirements associated with an OPT authorization.
Noemi wants others who are applying for OPT to know, “My OPT experience wasn't conventional. I had many complications but I'm glad that ISSS helped me a lot. In my case, a change/mistake in my enrollment made my deadline to apply for OPT move way sooner, which caused me to apply literally less than a week before the deadline to apply for OPT. Once my OPT was accepted I was very lucky, because I got my Employment Authorization Document (EAD) in less than a month - which from what I've heard is not normal either.”
F-1 students are eligible to apply for post-completion OPT after they have completed all degree requirements or after completion of all coursework (excluding thesis or dissertation credits). The first day that F-1 students can apply for OPT is 90 days before the last day of enrollment in the final semester. The last day F-1 students can apply is 60 days after the last day of enrollment.
As students transition from F-1 status based on enrollment to F-1 status based on practical training (OPT and STEM OPT), their concerns often shift as well. ISSS asked Noemi what concerns she has as a student on OPT and she stated, “I'm lucky to be at a company that helps me a lot and gives me options when my OPT expires, which would be my biggest concern. When you go to career fairs, don't be afraid to ask the company about H1B sponsorship and what options you have after your OPT ends. I’ve seen that many people are shy to ask that, but it’s very important to address and discuss with the company.” Many international students in F-1 status have questions about what comes next after their OPT authorization comes to an end. Unfortunately, ISSS advisors are not immigration attorneys so we are limited in the advice we can give to help guide students through this transition. Most often, ISSS will direct you to work with your employer or an immigration attorney to discuss your options.
ISSS is proud of our students who are engaging in practical training. If you’d like to be featured in our OPT Spotlight Series in the future, please fill out this survey.