Stop Your OPT Clock Easily

international student opt Aug 03, 2022

Knowing this changes everything” - Idia, international student

Let’s talk about stopping the OPT clock. I’m joining you here from my house where the OPT clock is NOT ticking for my students because we have learned how to effectively stop it.

“The OPT clock” is this concept that once you graduate and have declared a OPT start date, you have 90 days to get a job. And if you use that time in your job hunt, and it runs out, you must leave the country.

That 90 day clock is cumulative. This means that if you get a job and use 10 days of the OPT grace period clock in the process for that job hunt, and then you lose that job or finish that job if it’s an internship, you have remaining 80 days to find the next job.

What happens for most international students? They approach graduation and job hunting in sequence - meaning they do one and then the other. They focus exclusively on graduation and grades and let the job hunt slide or wait until the end. They plan to graduate but don’t plan beyond that. That’s when the OPT clock tends to be an issue.

And if you are in the United States now, or considering coming to the United States, what I want most for you is to never have to ever experience the stress associated with the OPT grace period clock, meaning you get interviews and offers long before you graduate, long before this clock ever becomes an issue.

So what happens then if you have graduated, you have your OPT, or your EAD card is in hand, and this, this clock is ticking? What to do in order to be effective as a job hunter?

Well, the first thing to do I recommend is to stop the clock and you CAN stop that without finding the full-time job. And surprisingly few people know this. You can stop that by getting any kind of volunteer job and having an offer letter submitted for that volunteer work to your university. That volunteer work could also occur via any campus department.

Once your university receives that offer letter, your SEVIS record will be updated through the system that the university plugs into and your OPT grace period clock will stop. And then you can go about conducting the hunt for the job that you do want to have.

Now, I'm not an attorney, and I'm not giving you legal advice. And there could be some caveats to this general process here. However, that's generally how it works. And of course, students in my program are gonna be able to benefit from all kinds of resources to make sure that they've stopped the clock in the appropriate way, if that is the issue when I’m meeting them for the first time.

But generally speaking, ANY volunteer job will stop the OPT clock as long as the organization can offer an offer letter. And then you can go about conducting a job hunt in such a way where you have the time where you can really lead a structured search with some sort of focus, because the case of feeling like you have no time is extremely stressful. You lose the ability to focus. You tend to try to find “just any job”, and you can imagine that that might be actually a little bit more difficult than finding a job that you love, because finding “just any job” means you might not be engaged with what that job does, and it can be harder for you to sell yourself to that employer when you lack specific focus and interest, compared to the individual who is specifically preparing for this type of role and who does have focus. So two steps to take: stop that OPT clock through a volunteer opportunity and then conduct that proper job hunt.

Now, my 12 week career accelerator is designed exactly for international students who face the prospect of an OPT start date. If their OPT clock is ticking, we get that stopped. We find the right opportunity and then move into the formal job hunting phase, where you do have the time.

Whether you work with a coach or not, give yourself the gift of that time, stop the OPT clock. And if you need to, you can use that time on the OPT - part of the 12 months - to conduct your job hunt and start working.

So, for example, in the case of my student, Alvin, Alvin was a master's in finance student at a university here in the Midwest. And he took probably 2 months out of his OPT to find his job and work with me. He got his offer at JP Morgan in New York city, working as an analyst on the portfolio side with the wealth management team there.

So yes, it took Alvin some time. He had to figure it out during his OPT period, but here's the thing: he had the time. He was able to stop the OPT clock and conduct a focus job hunt. So, now you know: you can stop the OPT clock. You can go out and get a volunteer job and submit that offer letter to your university to stop the clock.

Thanks for reading. Please join my channel, like, and subscribe so I can send you more awesome content. And thank you to all of you who have been sending me these questions and requesting specialized videos. I've been able to act on that. And it's such a privilege to be able to do that.


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