All OPT employment, including post-completion OPT, must be in a job that is related to the student’s degree program and commensurate with the degree level. For students who are not on a STEM extension, this employment may include:
- Paid employment: Students may work part time (at least 20 hours per week when on post-completion OPT) or full time.
- Multiple employers: Students may work for more than one employer, but all employment must be related to the student’s degree program and for pre-completion OPT cannot exceed the allowed per week cumulative hours.
- Short-term multiple employers (performing artists): Students, such as musicians and other performing artists may work for multiple short termemployers (gigs). The student should maintain a list of all gigs, dates, and duration. If requested by DHS, students must be prepared to provide evidence showing a list of all gigs.
- Work for hire: This is also commonly referred to as 1099 employment where an individual performs a service based on a contractual relationship rather than an employment relationship. If requested by DHS, students must be prepared to provide evidence showing the duration of the contract periods and the name and address of the contracting company.
- Self-employed business owner: Students on OPT may start a business and be self-employed. In this situation, the student must work full time. The student must be able to prove that he or she has the proper business licenses and is actively engaged in a business related to the student’s degreeprogram.
- Employment through an agency: Students on post-completion OPT must be able to provide evidence showing they worked an average of at least 20 hours per week while employed by the agency.
- Unpaid employment: Students may work as volunteers or unpaid interns, where this does not violate any labor laws. The work must be at least 20 hours per week for students on post-completion OPT. These students must be able to provide evidence from the employer that the student worked at least 20 hours per week during the period of employment.